Art films unlikely in Columbia

September 16, 1999|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

No one knows how it got started, but a rumor sprang up a few years ago that Columbia's first movie theater, the 25-year-old, three-screen General Cinema Columbia City 3 on Lake Kittamaqundi, would be turned into a cinema house showing art films.

Instead of delivering the latest Hollywood blockbuster, the aging movie house would present independent and foreign films, more intimate artistic fare that would appeal to an older, more refined crowd who hungered for an alternative cinematic experience.

Unfortunately for art-house aficionados, their wish won't be coming true soon.

Despite calls and letters to General Cinema's headquarters in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and to the Rouse Co. (which owns the waterfront property on which the theater stands) urging the theater company to change the programming, Howard County residents will have to drive to Baltimore or Washington to see the latest foreign or small film.

Many say it would have been the perfect time to convert the theater. With a megaplex movie theater (another General Cinema-Rouse Co. partnership) coming to The Mall in Columbia in the next few years, a small art-house cinema across the street would have been a solution.

The theater "is still getting a fair number of hit films and is still going strong," said Brian Callaghan, communications director for General Cinema Theatres Inc. "We showed `The Sixth Sense' there, and it did really well."

As long as mainstream movies continue to do well at the lakefront theater, the likelihood that it will become an art house is smallCallaghan said.

Pub Date: 9/16/99

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