This post is going to be short, sweet, and personal, but a few weeks ago I found out that the closest movie theater to me -- which happens to be the main one I've been going to since I was a kid -- is closing for good; this weekend, as a matter of fact.
It's just a generic Showcase Cinemas; not a fancy independently operated theater or anything like that, but I'm disappointed just the same. For starters, it was incredibly convenient for me to get to -- just 15 minutes away on the regular back roads in the town next to mine. The ticket prices have always been cheaper than nearby competing chains. And I loved the fact that there was always plenty of parking up close to the entrance because it wasn't a busy theater...but unfortunately that's also the same reason why it's closing. Attendance had dropped off in recent years as people have been going to a newer Loews theater in a shopping center a bit up the highway. But I'm going to miss this theater.
I saw everything there from The Empire Strikes Back to E.T., Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, James Bond movies, and all of the Indiana Jones ones. In fact, my first vivid movie memory happened there when my brother took me to see Jaws in 1976. I was only three and a half years old but what I remember most other than the movie itself (which I loved; I wasn't scared at all) were all of the Jaws toys and promotional items being sold in the lobby, something that doesn't happen today. (My brother bought me an orange rubber toy shark that I put in my backyard wading pool the next day.)
In high school, it was where my friends and I would go on half days followed (or preceded by) lunch at Denny's next door.
|Construction of the original 1-6 theater side in 1964. Photo credit: James V. Roy at pbase.com|
Then, in 2008, the original 1-6 side was shut down and stadium seating was added to all of the theaters on the newer side (another reason why I loved it, because my legs and knees suffer in a more cramped Showcase in another town that has really outdated seating.) They also improved the sound system and size of the screens.
The last film I saw there was The Peanuts Movie (two thumbs way up, by the way) and there was a substantial crowd in the theater, including men with their kids, which was surprising given the Pats were playing that afternoon. But not long ago an older woman from my church that's friendly with my mother and her friends told us the last time she went to see a movie there, she was only person in attendance. She felt creeped out about being alone in a dark theater and left. The ticket attendee told her more people were favoring the Loews.
And it's not that I have anything against Loews; the one people are flocking to features big reclining seats, something I definitely appreciate. But it costs more, and the theaters themselves are smaller, and I'm not thrilled at the idea of driving on the highway to get there. The other Showcase is pretty big and has plenty of parking, but like I mentioned they really need to update the actual theaters and make them bigger and more comfortable. And I guess it's just the stab of knowing another place from childhood is soon to be gone, joining the likes of the local five-and-dime store and a favorite restaurant my parents and I went to often that disappeared years ago.
I'll be curious to know what will become of both buildings eventually; will they be knocked down and something new built in their place(s)? Probably likely...but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that perhaps a different movie chain will look into taking them over and resurrecting them so that they can compete with the others nearby.
Either way, the screens go dark -- for now -- this Sunday. :(