“Wichita,” a Western/thriller motion picture filmed in Kansas, will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, May 2, at the Crest Theater in Great Bend. Admission is $10 and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The movie is written and directed by Great Bend native Nicholas Barton, son of Richard and Lisa Barton.
As a Great Bend High School student, Barton used to tread the boards at the Crest for various local theatrical productions. Now, as co-owner of Prestigious Films in Wichita, Barton is excited that his first feature-length film will be shown at the same historic theater.
With a $500,000 budget, Barton says his Kansas crew was able to produce a professional movie that would have cost a California or New York production company several million dollars. Last week the company began screening the show in theaters throughout the Midwest, just as it is doing for one night only in Great Bend.
Barton said an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 independent films are made in the U.S. every year, but fewer than 300 land distribution offers. He expects “Wichita” will make the cut.
“We were getting distribution offers before we ever did a screening on it,” he said. “We’re working on a few theatrical deals.” DVDs and on-demand Internet viewing could be available by 2015.
Prestigious Films has already had success on the small screen. Barton began his freelance video career in 2008 as a producer for CMT and A&E. In 2009, he started Prestigious Films, and the production company has now produced over 50 music videos and more than 250 commercials, as well as infomercials and television shows.
With no big name stars and no bookings at major film festivals such as Sundance, “Wichita” is still generating a lot of buzz. When it opened at the Orpheum Theatre in Wichita, 1,100 people attended. But the movie has a lot more going for it than just hometown pride.
“We tried to make it as authentically realistic as we could,” Barton said. “It’s a dark, gritty kind of violent Western — not spaghetti-style.” The movie is set in 1882 Wichita, where the stories of a drifter, a bounty hunter and a fugitive from justice unfold.
“This movie keeps you guessing until the very last scene,” Barton said. Much of it was shot on location at historic Cowtown in Wichita, the ranch Barton and his wife Laura own, the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and other scenic landscapes in south-central and southeast Kansas.
The movie has not yet been rated by the MPAA, but is for mature audiences. Barton said he expects it will eventually be rated R.
There are already some reviews on the Internet Movie Data Base, where “Wichita” had an 8.7 rating (out of a possible 10). A movie trailer can be found on the movie’s website: wichita-movie.com.