You may remember last week, when we profiled a couple of former cinemas on Chestnut Street which have been turned into retail stores. In the heyday of moving picture houses, there were over fifty that were scattered across Center City, with concentrations on Chestnut and Market Streets. But as the years have gone by, their numbers have been whittled away, with demolition, conversion, and abandonment being the fate of virtually all of the theaters. With the closing of the Sameric (The Boyd) back in 2002, the Roxy was left as the lone Center City cinema showing first run movies.
According to reports that came out at the end of last week, however, the Roxy is set to shut down on or before November 7th. In the story linked above from Philly.com, John Ciccone, the owner of the building, suggests that he intends to shut the theater down for a massive renovation, and will reopen it in the future to show arthouse and repertory films, mixing in the occasional first run picture. Foobooz, meanwhile, reports on the possibility that Stephen Starr could look to take over the space for a dinner theater concept.
Embarrassingly, the closing of the Roxy, which first opened in 1975, will mean the end of mainstream, first run movies in Center City. While residents of every other major city have relatively easy access to a cinema showing the newest Final Destination or Batman installment, Center City residents must resort to travelling to West Philly, Pennsport, or <gasp> New Jersey to get their popcorn fix. How did it come to this? Why does it continue to be this way? Where can someone build a ten screen cinema in Center City?
Any ideas? Any suggestions? Any movies we should check out next time we’re in Cherry Hill?