Downtown Huntington cinema closes doors [Huntington, W. Virginia]

[article via THS Director Dennis Wilhelm, Miami Beach, FL]

November 04, 2011 @ 11:30 PM
The Herald-Dispatch

The Cinema at 1021 4th Ave. closed its doors for good on Thursday.

The discount theater was the last of the Huntington locations for Greater Huntington Theater Corp., and it closed because of a lack of business, according to a press release from the company.

“First, we would like to thank all our customers who have supported the Cinema over the many years we have been in business,” the release said. “We have been carrying losses over the past several years in hopes we could turn things around and keep the Cinema open but that didn’t happen. We found that with the first run theaters keeping the movies longer and the shorter time before the DVDs are released, the discount movie theater business just doesn’t work.”

The Cinema had eight employees.

Greater Huntington Theater Corp., run by President Derek Hyman of Huntington, still operates three other theaters in the region: Park Place Stadium Cinema in Charleston, Fountain Place Cinema 8 in Logan, and Pierce Point Cinema 10 in Amelia, Ohio. But the Cinema wasn’t sustaining itself.

“There’s so much money you need to run a building like that, and with discounted prices, we didn’t manage to make enough to keep it open,” Hyman said in an interview Friday morning.

In 2006, the company closed the historic Keith-Albee as a movie theater, as well as the Camelot movie theater, citing competition from the Marquee Cinema at Pullman Square, which opened in late 2004.

The Cinema was kept alive as a discount theater featuring second-run movies. It offered a variety of specials to attract movie-goers, such as free movies for kids in the summertime — which drew crowds of local day care children — and “Flashback Mondays,” when they showed classic movies on the big screen, as well as offering “$2 Tuesdays.”

Its closing marks the end of an era for a company that got into the entertainment business in downtown Huntington in the 1920s.

“I’ve known I’d do this for a couple of months and I thought I was prepared, but it’s made me sad today,” Hyman said.

The Greater Huntington Theatre Corp. was opened by Derek’s grandfather, Abe Hyman, and great uncle Saul Hyman, who opened the ornate Keith-Albee Theatre in 1928. The theater corporation was handed down from Abe and Saul Hyman to Jack Hyman, who ran it until the 1990s, when Derek took over.

Along with the theaters downtown and its remaining current theaters, the business has had others as well, including the East Drive-In along U.S. 60 near the current site of HIMG. There also was Starlight in South Point.

The Cinema was once the Orpheum Theater, and it was in business years before the Keith-Albee opened in 1928, according to local historian Jim Casto.

“The Orpheum was built as a vaudeville theater,” he said. “When movies came along, it featured both movies and vaudeville acts. Ultimately, like the nation’s other theaters, it became strictly a movie house.”

Before it was turned into a multiplex, it seated more than 1,300 people, Casto said.

Anyone holding gift cards with balances, valid gift coupons or valid advance tickets for The Cinema can contact its corporate office at 304-523-0185 for a refund.


One Comment

  1. Film 70/71

    I loved the old downtown Huntington theatres. I especially regret the loss of a venue for small budget independent and foreign films that otherwise would not be shown in the Huntington area. It’s a shame there isn’t some way to coordinate film screenings at the local art museum as there is in larger cities in Ohio.

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