Sunday, March 16, 2008

There is a nice write-up (When Omaha Met Cinema) in the................ New York Times about my little home town art house theater.

It opened at the end of July of 2007, and their first-ever showing was Seven Samurai. I was out of town, so I couldn't be there for that grand opening, in which Alexander Payne showed up and everything. But being that I was at a jazz festival, I didn't mind so much. Anyways, I've met Alex before, when he had his Nebraska premiere of About Schmidt in Lincoln.

The theater is situated in a fast-developing part of north downtown (the author of said article says it's in a "deserted" area, which is an exaggeration) which has so much potential, because it's between the campus of Creighton University not four blocks away, and the arena-convention center only three blocks away that is where much of our city's people gather for sporting events or concerts (like the first and second rounds of the Midwest regional next week). It is not a bad neighborhood at all, and in fact four new hotels have gone up a block away from the theater. And what's more, there is a chance that the College World Series may be moved to a new stadium to be constructed--a block away from the theater. Perhaps I can go to a ballgame one day, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, and see a movie afterwards while all the traffic is filing out. Wouldn't that be a great evening!

Of course also, as the Times article mentions, there's a new indie rock nightclub a few doors up called "Slowdown", which is operated by the Saddle Creek Records label--though not all acts necessarily have to have performed on their label, in order to play there. I haven't gone there, mainly because I'm not into that stuff, I guess, but if you like it, and are ever in the area, it's definitely a place to check out. It looks like a really neat place when I peer through the window.

Across the street is an empty lot--which I can only guess developers are on the verge of doing something with--but waiting on the stadium situation before making any decisions. And then there's talk of bringing back the streetcar to Omaha, which last was here in 1950 before it was put out of service, and a city planner I talked to said if that ever comes to fruition, the street the theater is situated on would probably be the route. And then just three blocks away maybe, directly south of the theater, will be a new condominium tower go up across the street from the Union Pacific headquarters building, and so there you'll have a community of residents looking for places to go evenings. So, I think they did good by the location they chose. They couldn't have done better. Location means everything, and setting up an art cinema is no small task in a midwest city, especially finding the most ideal location for it on top of the problems you'd think they'd have besides.

Several years ago, another attempt was made at putting an art cinema in Omaha, but the location was bad for it, so it failed within a couple months. It was in an old shopping center where they had a multiplex before. So some enterprising film buffs fixed the theaters up and made a go of it, but being that it's not near any university or the types of crowds they'd hope to attract to such a theater, it was doomed to fail. They even offered alcoholic drinks, but that didn't help. I remember one time watching a Japanese film on a weekend afternoon--I had the theater all to myself.

Well, if it interests you, I found a YouTube video from the Slowdown nightclub. Enjoy, if you will:

1 comment:

weepingsam said...

It's certainly a challenge these days to keep a small theater running. And frustrating, since films cost a lot of money, and need a fairly significant audience to make any of it back - especially as Film. DVD is a nice substitute, but sometimes that starts to cut into theater attendance... hopefully, though, DVDs can also build audiences for films in theaters - though it probably takes something more - director (or star or writer or critic) appearances and the like.... Still - a good location, a college, other places that draw people who might see films helps.