Topic: Loews Copley Place in Boston Closes
From: Monterey Park, CA
Registered: Jun 2003
posted February 01, 2005 08:46 PM
Loews closing leaves art-film fans in the dark
By Mary Jo Palumbo
Saturday, January 29, 2005
The closing of Loews Copley Place tomorrow leaves Boston with just two downtown movie houses - both showcasing mainstream Hollywood films - and far fewer screens than many cities, according to industry experts.
``For specialty films, Boston is going to be severely underscreened,'' said David Kleiler, former director of the Coolidge Corner Theatre. ``There's a good chance that films with limited distributions won't get screened at all in Boston because of this.''
The 11-screen Loews theater, located in Copley Place for 21 years, will be replaced with upscale Manhattan retailer Barneys New York.
To be blunt, Loews Copley Place wasn't anyone's favorite movie house. The theaters were tiny and cramped. The screens were small, and the seats weren't raked. The theater never had a clear identity, showing a combination of family fare, second-run movies and independent films.
``It was one of the least-loved theaters in the Boston area,'' said Kleiler. ``But it was the only game in town. That's the shame. People in the Back Bay and the South End are very film savvy, and there's nothing to replace it.''
Loews Boston Common, which opened in 2001 with 19 theaters, and the AMC Fenway 13 feature stadium seating, digital sound, big screens, much better sightlines and fancy concession stands. But those screens are devoted to box-office hits, and neither theater appears to be considering a programming change in the wake of the Copley's closing.
Loews management would say little about whether programming at the Boston Common venue will change as a result.
``It was not a matter of Loews deciding to close the theater,'' said Loews spokesman John McCauley. ``Our lease was up and the landlord rented the space to Barneys.
``We have another great theater downtown - the Loews Boston Common - that gives people bigger opportunities to see movies.''
AMC Fenway also aims to continue its mainstream Hollywood fare.
``We strive to provide a variety of films that appeal to a diverse audience and that will continue,'' said AMC spokeswoman Pam Blase. ``We will continue to operate with that same goal in mind.''
Not long ago, Boston cinema buffs could choose from several downtown movie houses showing a range of fare, including the Charles, the Cheri, the Paris, the Nickelodeon and the Exeter Street theaters.
But that's changed in the past decade.
``Boston has long been underscreened,'' Loews Cineplex Entertainment President Travis Reid told the Herald when Loews opened its Boston Common theaters in 2001.
Boston's 32 downtown screens compare with about 63 in downtown Washington, D.C., a city comparable in size to Boston.
What the city needs, according to longtime Boston film booker George Mansour, is a new facility for non-mainstream films. ``It would be great to have a state-of-the-art complex for art films in the heart of the South End,'' said Mansour.
``It would be a tremendous plus for people in the city.''
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