International film star Hugh Jackman thrilled throngs of fans in Iowa Falls Saturday at an event celebrating the re-opening of the Metropolitan Theater following a $500,000 renovation, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.
Jackman told reporters on the red carpet that it was his idea to do the event, after his agent -- Iowa Falls native Patrick Whitesell, as well as Whitesell's father, Jack -- told him that they bought the theater out of bankruptcy and were restoring the movie palace.
The venue, originally the Metropolitan Opera House, was built in 1899 and was converted to a movie house in the 1950s.
Patrick Whitesell says he spent many days of his youth in the 1970s seeing films at the Met.
"I wouldn't be in the business without that theater. That's a fact," Patrick Whitesell said on the red carpet.
Jackman also spoke from the city's band shell, saying, "Come to Iowa Falls to the theater at least once a week."
The actor posed for photos and signed autographs on the red carpet. Also, for the first time, his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, and the couple's two children, were along for the ride.
"I've never had my family with me on one of these, but it felt right here," Jackman said.
Jackman said he was overwhelmed by the reception by the locals in Iowa Falls.
"I gotta tell ya, I've never felt so welcome in any town," Jackman told KCCI.com. "I might be buying a place here -- watch out."
More than $20,000 in ticket sales were raised from the event, and the proceeds will go to benefit Ellsworth Municipal Hospital Foundation.