Film society president to open art house to fill lacking ‘neighborhood theatre feel’ as smaller theaters close

Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With fewer COVID-19 restrictions, more people are checking out the scene at our local movie theaters.

Finding a theater to go to is a little harder than before. The pandemic seriously hurt the movie industry. Thousands closed their doors for good.

In Charlotte alone, at least three theaters shut down that feeling of walking down the hallway into the theatre and eating your popcorn before the previews are even over. Those theaters are Manor Theatre, Studio Movie Grill in the EpiCentre and the Regal Ballantyne Village.

That movie experience is what many were missing, but COVID-19 took that experience away from some wanting to visit smaller theatres showing different films.

Welcome back we missed you is plastered on the side of Phillips Place Cinema in SouthPark. Those five simple words are the first things moviegoers see at this movie theatre in Charlotte.

”I’m happy to see some movies and help the industry,” says one avid moviegoer.

While some movie buffs rushed to the big screen, other casual movie fans are just happy to see something to do again.

”Even though I didn’t go before the fact that it’s available now I’m excited about and I want to see Cruella,” says another.

That is one movie showing on the big screen, but some movies, like foreign and classic films, will not be screened in Charlotte nearly as much. The Manor Theatre, one of the premiere art house theatres in Charlotte, closed its doors for good during the pandemic.

It might be joined by another theatre soon. According to our media partners are the Charlotte Observer, Phillips Place Cinema might become office space soon. An article says plans show an office space where the theatre sits now, but a company email says the lease does not end until 2025.

”I think it was a great blow to the community,” says Brad Ritter, who heads Charlotte Film Society.

The Manor was the third unique Charlotte movie theater to shut down recently. He says this means some sense of community left with it.

”Community theatre attracts more of a neighborhood feel to it,” says Ritter. “It makes you feel like you’re home and I think that’s one of the strengths of a smaller theatre.”

But Ritter thinks the future of movies is still bright with summer bringing bigger blockbusters.

”I think that will incline people to go start seeing more movies. And the art house films will go through the same thing where there are gonna be more options out there,” he says.

And as far as filling the gap for those art house films, Ritter’s got his own solution—Independent Picture House, a non-profit movie theatre housed in NoDa.

”People will be more excited when we do open,” he remarks.

Ritter says Independent Picture House is supposed to open around the end of this year. He is hopeful that people will be able to once again enjoy the movie experience COVID 19 once took from them.

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