In terms of movie-going entertainment, 2000 may well be the year that Payson is elevated from abject poverty to an embarrassment of riches.
Since March of 1998, when Payson's only movie house, the Payson Picture Show, stopped showing second- and third-run films, the town has been without a single shrine to Hollywood and artificially-buttered popcorn.
Between December 1999 and January 2000, however, the number of theater screens planned for Payson suddenly went from zero to 10.
In December, George Harrison, the owner of Payson Village Shopping Center and the Payson Center, announced plans to convert the vacant Wal-Mart building off Highway 260 into a 12,000-square-foot, four-screen theater.
A month later, the Kaibab Industries Board of Directors voted to proceed with the construction of Sawmill Crossing Shopping Center near the corner of Main Street and Beeline Highway an on-again, off-again project with a six-screen movie theater with stadium seating and state-of-the-art sound as its centerpiece attraction.
Construction on Kaibab's theater is slated to begin in April, with the opening tentatively set for the first part of November.
"We can't afford to miss out on the holiday movie season," Gordon Whiting, vice president of Kaibab's property management division, said. "The theater will be roughly 16,000 square feet, and we are building all six (screens) at once."
All this comes in the wake of several failed attempts by local entrepreneurs since the mid-1990s to bring Hollywood's projected glow to Payson. A few years ago, Gayle Tovey planned to build Payson Entertainment Center on North Beeline, which included a four-plex cinema. The project stalled, however, and the movie-theater idea died in 1998.
Will Payson now be able to support two movie theaters with a combined total of 10 movie screens?
Only time, progress, and the often underestimated power of popping popcorn will tell.