The Senator Theatre is playing Pearl Harbor after all.
Just two months after moving heaven and Earth in an unsuccessful attempt to get the presumed summer blockbuster to open in his theater, Senator owner Tom Kiefaber finally has gotten the film's distributors to see the light.
The engagement began yesterday, and will last for at least a week, depending on the size of the audience the film attracts. The next film booked for the art deco movie palace at York Road and Belvedere Avenue is Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now Redux, scheduled to open Aug. 10.
"All along, people have been calling me, asking, `When are you going to get Pearl Harbor?' " Kiefaber said. "Regardless of whatever issues I have, Pearl Harbor is a perfect film to be shown on the big screen at the Senator."
Kiefaber's initial efforts to book the film had been thwarted by Massachusetts-based General Cinemas, which had placed Pearl Harbor in its Towson Commons theater, just a few miles north of the Senator. Because of the proximity of the two movie houses, General was able to block the Senator from showing it as well.
With Pearl Harbor no longer playing at Towson, the way was clear for its limited engagement at the Senator.
Things worked out fine for the Senator this time around - Shrek, which played there instead, brought the theater its biggest crowds of the year, while Pearl Harbor, despite opening big, has proven to be a disappointment. But Kiefaber's fight against these blocking practices continues.
As the National Trust for Historic Preservation noted when placing America's remaining movie palaces (such as the Senator) on its list of the 11 most endangered historic sites, efforts to limit what those theaters can show are the greatest danger to their continued viability.
"We still have a hard fight ahead of us," Kiefaber said.