News — 21 April 2011 » Written by
Yes, we’ve heard, the Ritz Theaters are up for auction…

Philadelphia Inquirer film critic Carrie Rickey reported yesterday on the possible sale of our area’s three Landmark-owned Ritz Theaters.  Here’s a quote:

“In a Landmark sale, the worst-case scenario for local moviegoers is that the buyers of the Ritz turn those houses into showcases for mainstream Hollywood fare.  Where would we see the next Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?  Where would we see the next King’s Speech?  The best-case scenario is that owners sensitive to this market and to exposing viewers to the widest possible selection of art and alt fare would buy the chain.”

The actual worst-case scenario is that one or two of the theaters are converted into parking lots for Old City tourists, which is entirely possible.  I have to wonder if Ms. Rickey even cares considering her taste in film these days (not to mention the two examples of “alt fare” mentioned above).  In any case, the landscape of our city’s outlets for sub-mainstream cinema may, according to the article, already be in decline:

“What most concerns me is that at this time when the world is most globalized, the foreign offerings at our movie theaters are shrinking, and a Landmark sale might accelerate this trend.

From 2004 to 2009, the proportion of foreign films shown in the Philadelphia area dropped from 20 per cent to 12 per cent of the total offerings, mirroring the long-term national trend.”

Where in the world did those figures come from?  I’d take the time to do the math myself, but these films on my coffee table aren’t going to review themselves.

Also, since philly.com could use the above theater image from Google image search then I figured I could use it too.  Credit goes to Filmhash.

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About Author

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He's served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

(4) Readers Comments

  1. Honestly, the best case scenario would be having someone that genuinely cares about indie film buy the theaters. There wasn’t a single Philadelphia showing of Best Worst Movie or Mystery Team, and that seems to happen frequently with certain smaller indie films.

  2. Agreed. And although Cinema 16:9 did show a Best Worst Movie/Troll 2 double-feature for at least a week or two, Lansdowne can feel like quite a trek from Center City and is nearly impossible to reach without a car.

  3. Thanks for linking back for the image!

    The Ritz is absolutely one of my favorite places to go to the movies in the city, and I think just providing a venue for real, actual adults to see films without the hordes of hyperactive teens invading the multiplex is a blessing in itself. I hope this sale doesn’t affect the kinds of films they screen.

  4. Just a note: the lack of foreign films screened in Philadelphia is one of the key reasons that the majority of the programming for the Philadelphia Film Festival (approximately 61%) is foreign. There are so many great foreign films (as well as great domestic films like Best Worst Movie and Mystery Team as noted above) that deserve to be seen properly, in a theater, and on 35mm wherever possible. PFS strives to make that happen, both in the annual Festival as well as year-round.

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