Villa Theatre

202 S. Central Avenue,
Malta, MT 59538

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Villa Theatre exterior

The Villa Theatre is located in the downtown section of Malta, serving a population of over 8,000 in the county.

The Villa Theatre opened on June 30, 1955 with 500 seats (450 in the orchestra and 50 in the balcony), and has a corner entrance with a three sided marquee and small vertical.

In late-2013 fundraising was continuing to purchase a digital projector, but the Villa Theatre appears to have closed by 2014.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2010 at 2:53 am

The recent opening of the Villa Theatre was reported in Boxoffice of August 20, 1955. Though plans for a larger theater at Malta had been announced in Boxoffice as early as 1946, the long-delayed project as built was scaled down. The owners/operators, Carl and Irene Veseth, had operated Malta’s Palace Theatre since 1922, and that house was closed when the Villa opened.

This article about the Villa Theatre was published in Boxoffice of March 3, 1958, when the theater had been in operation for more than two years. There is a floor plan of the building, as well as photos of the exterior, the rather plain auditorium, and the very stylish little lobby. The article says that the seats in the Villa, 450 in the orchestra and 50 loges, were all spaced on 40-inch centers, which was quite generous for 1955. I guess Montana had a lot of tall cowboys who liked to stretch out.

Carl Veseth had bought the land for the theater in 1928, but ground was not broken for the project until September, 1954. A 1946 Boxoffice item had said that Veseth had hired Salt Lake City architect Paul Evans to design an 800-seat theater for Malta, but the Villa as finally built was a 500-seat house designed by the Portland firm of Lathrop, Gillam & Percy, who had in 1950 done the preliminary design for another version of the Villa which was never built. It would have had over 1,500 seats, accommodating about 75% of the town’s population.

Two years after the Villa opened, the Veseths opened the Valli Drive-In at Malta, a 280-car operation. At this time they also still operated a theater at Harlem, Montana. They had once operated the Liberty Theatre at Chester, Montana, as well.

Carl Veseth died in 1975, and in 1977 the June 13 issue of Boxoffice reported that Irene Veseth had sold the Villa Theatre and the Valli Drive-In to her brother, who sported the delightful name R. C. Pancake. There was a Leslie Pancake who operated the Shasta Theatre at Central Valley, California, in the 1940s, and a Stanley Pancake who once operated a theater in Harlem, Montana in 1939. They all just had to have been related.

MovieOffers on October 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Are they still open? Their listed phone number 406-654-2750 has been disconnected.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Not a bad looking theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm

There are no current listings for this theater at any of the movie web sites, and the house doesn’t appear in the Great Falls Tribune’s movie listings. It must have been closed.

Here is a fresh link to the article about the Villa Theatre in Boxoffice, March 3, 1958.

TLSLOEWS on February 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for the boxoffice link Joe V.Nice looking theatre.

Susan on May 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm

There was a Richard Canfield “Dick” Pancake, raised in Malta, MT. He might be “R.C. Pancake”. Leslie George Pancake owned and operated the Cinema Inn theatre in Shasta Lake. I found a reference to a remodel done to the theatre in 1968.

TheColtonsMom on November 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

This theater is not closed! We are fundraising to save it. It has already upgraded to digital sound & has half the money for the remaining digital upgrades needed. To donate contact First Security Bank (406) 654-2221 or mail a check to them at PO box 730 Malta Montana 59538. Checks should be payable to Villa Digital Fund. Thanks to all who help!

Chris1982 on July 30, 2014 at 3:11 am

The theatres phone number is no longer in service.

Chris1982 on August 20, 2014 at 1:13 am

I don’t see how a theatre could still be open without a phone. YELP lists the theatre as closed.

dallasmovietheaters on May 14, 2019 at 7:29 pm

The local paper lists June 30, 1955 as the opening date of the theatre

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