Fans mourn loss of Annapolis theater

Eastport Art 2 showed independent, art movies

May 30, 2004|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When "The End" scrolls across the screens tomorrow night at the Crown Eastport Art 2 cinema, Annapolis moviegoers will bid farewell to the only local theater dedicated to arts and independent films.

Connecticut-based Crown Theatres recently announced that the Eastport Art 2's screens would go dark after tomorrow but that the "tradition will immediately continue" at the nine-screen Crown Harbour, which is getting a $1 million face lift this summer and fall.

Although it's possible that the neighborhood theater, at Eastport Shopping Village, could reopen under new management, local moviegoers are already bemoaning its closing.

"This is a loss to the community and to Eastport," says Lillian Brown of Severna Park, who frequented the theater with friends. "They kept really good movies and they kept them for a long time so you could get to see them, and the theater was cozy."

Were all these "little" films destined for short runs attended by only the most-dedicated movie buffs? Not at all. My Big Fat Greek Wedding ran for an entire summer to packed houses before the major movie houses woke up and showed it.

Before they were recognized with Academy Award nominations, New Zealand's Whale Rider and the Bill Murray film Lost in Translation were attracting crowds to the Eastport establishment.

The theater specialized in limited showings of foreign and independent films. It has also played host to the 2-year-old Annapolis Film Festival.

"The fact that there was nowhere else in the area to see foreign films except going to the Landmark Theaters in Bethesda or the Charles in Baltimore is too bad," said Ingrid Petzold of Annapolis.

Petzold and her husband, Henry, kept abreast of foreign releases and often suggested new titles to the management at Eastport, which would request them from its parent company.

Crown acquired the theater from Apex Cinemas in the late 1990s, according to a Crown spokeswoman. The theater had previously been owned by Washington-based Reel Entertainment, and before that by Durkee Enterprises, a local chain.

Said Petzold: "It seems very appropriate that one of the last movies to play at the Eastport theater is Bon Voyage."

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