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Latter-day Saint temple may hurt Tooele drive-in theater experience, manager says

Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 23:58:54-04

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah — The location of a temple being built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is causing uncertainty for a business across the street.

On Wednesday, the church announced the Tooele Valley Utah Temple will be built in Erda, off Highway 36 and Erda Road.

But for 70 years, Motor Vu Theater’s single movie screen has shined bright through the rural landscape — just across the road from the temple site.

“In the Tooele Valley, you have a couple theaters and that’s about it,” theater manager Mike Booth said.

The theater is one of five drive-ins left in Utah trying to survive mega theaters and online streaming.

Located at Erda Lane and Highway 36, the family-owned business will soon be eclipsed by a three-story, 70,000 square foot Latter-day Saint temple built on church farmland.

Booth’s family didn’t even know about Wednesday’s announcement until they went online.

“Somebody messaged our site saying, ‘Oh crap, are we going to close?’” Booth said.

The concern is that the screen faces what will be a brightly-lit house of worship.

Too much ambient light, according to Booth, washes out their screen and could ruin the theater experience that has entertained families since 1949.

“We think that we can reach a compromise if there are any issues," Booth said.

Booth and his family are staying positive. They’re also considering amping up the projection bulb to counteract the temple lighting.

No matter what happens, the theater is prepared to persevere.

“It’s what we’ve done for the past 70 years, so nothing has closed us yet," Booth said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not return Fox 13's request for comment. The church has not yet announced on when the groundbreaking for the temple will happen.