The case for a downtown movie theater

posted by Michael Zoldessy on August 7, 2008 at 7:54 am

ORLANDO, FL — It’s still up for debate whether Orlando will land a new theater downtown. One local writer thinks the city would be seriously neglecting its cultural landscape without one.

Passing by the still-empty multi-plex space in the downtown Premiere Trade Plaza development, I was struck by how cool it still would be if Orlando could land a downtown movie theater in that space, despite the developer’s setbacks, the general downturn in the economy and the specific fall-off in new theater construction.

Local curmudgeons, including some inside this very paper, have made griping threats about the deals the City of Orlando might yet make (and should not, in their view) to help the new owners of the structure get a theater in there. Some of these same curmudgeons have, in earlier columns, sung the praises of what having a downtown performing arts center will do for the Big O. And I would heartily agree with that. The impact of a new arena for the Orlando Magic pales in comparison to what a performing arts center will do for downtown.

But those poo-pooing City tax breaks and incentives for a movie theater are missing a big part of the equation. Film, and the counter-programming a downtown cinema would have to offer in order to compete, is a vital part of a downtown arts mix.

Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

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