Independent filmmakers eye new life for Bellevue theater

Rob Collins and Stephen don’t just want to bring back movies to the theater, they want to turn it into a multi-use venue for the arts.
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 10:46 PM EDT
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CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - Two independent filmmakers want to revitalize the Marianne Theater in Bellevue.

The iconic theater hasn’t shown movies since the late ‘90s, but Rob Collins and Stephen Hodke want to change that.

They envision the theater preserved and revitalized as a safe haven for other independent artists in Northern Kentucky.

“I’ve always had the vision of having a movie premiere of my own here since I’m a filmmaker myself,” Collins said.

Collins and Hodke make movies together, but they’ve found it difficult to find local venues to show their work, part of the reason they want to bring the Marianne Theater back to life.

Hodke imagines a retractable screen so the theater could host band or standup performances.

But before that, the venue needs some work.

“A lot of it’s just cosmetic,” Hodke said. “It looks really bad when you walk in there. The carpets, the walls, the ceilings... the paint’s peeling. It looks like something out of a horror movie when you walk through there.”

The pair say they’re up to the task.

“Most of it’s stuff I can handle myself,” Hodke said. “I’ve been in construction since ‘98, and I can take a house down to a hole in the ground and rebuild it.”

The City of Bellevue will sell the theater to Hodke and Collins for $150,000, and the pair are eyeing grants and other backers to help cover the cost of renovations. But right now, they’re trying to raise just enough money as a down payment to get a loan from a bank for the purchase.

“We started fundraisers so that we can prove to the people that want to be a part of this project that there’s a big community behind us,” Hodke said.

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