Manor Art Cinema

1444 NE 26th Street,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305

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Opened in 1971 as the Manor Theatre, this sub-run theatre eventually became one of Broward County’s premiere arthouses. It saved many from making a trip to Miami and closed in 1987. Until recently, it operated as the 26th Street Theatre, a live theatrical venue, but is now once more closed.

Contributed by Al Alvarez

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

sporridge
sporridge on February 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

Carlos Cyrulnik: If you were in art film-starved Broward County during the early 1980s, you had him to thank for proving the local market would support imports ‘n’ indies.

Beginning with a revival of “Seven Beauties,” Cyrulnik gradually built up enough audience to warrant newer releases that would’ve once required a trip 40 miles south to Coral Gables or Coconut Grove. But even long-unavailable classics played to sold-out houses: Broward was so hungry for the likes of “La Dolce Vita” that some hardy souls (with sturdy soles) stood in the back all three hours.

In retrospect, the Manor Art Cinema witnessed the crossroads between the late work of arthouse mainstays (Kurosawa, Truffaut, Fassbinder) and the first rumblings of the American independent scene (“Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “The Road to Bountiful” both had extended engagements). The Manor Art was also kept busy at various times with a Thursday night discussion series, often tied in with the next booking, along with midnight adult movies on weekends and late Monday Chinese films (patronized in great numbers by restaurant workers on their regular evening off).

Although small in seat count, the Manor had a rectangular orientation that facilitated a decent (and curtained) wide screen. “Dersu Uzala” and “King of Hearts,” among others, were well served.

To accommodate additional films, Cyrulnik eventually assumed management of another former bargain cinema further west, the Towne in Plantation /theaters/12462/ Both theatres thrived for a few more years, until a shortage of must-see new releases led to the Art Towne’s demise in 1987. The Manor turned to revivals again in its final months, and closed the way it began, with “Seven Beauties.”

Longtime South Florida theatrical producer Brian C. Smith oversaw the Manor’s changeover to live performance, reopened as Off-Broadway at 26th Street. Coral Springs' Stage Door Theatre assumed management for a time, but what is now the Wilton Theatre has been shuttered in recent months — except for Tuesday-night auctions:

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(nice interior photo at present)

sporridge
sporridge on February 14, 2010 at 7:07 am

Correction: “The TRIP to Bountiful.”

Forgot to mention the Manor’s pre-art cinema life in the 1970s as a primarily neighborhood theater, sometimes first-run but mostly second-run bargain fare. I visited once at the time, with a school group watching “Fiddler on the Roof” in anticipation of our own class production… little knowing I would be back quite often a decade later.

Presaging the art cinema phase, a few crossover international hits enjoyed long runs at the Manor, especially “The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe.”

For all its success with “La Traviata,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” the Manor’s most successful booking was a revival of the X-rated “Caligula.” Brought back at least twice.

WhoWhatWhereWhyHow
WhoWhatWhereWhyHow on September 29, 2010 at 10:06 pm

The Thursday Night film discussion series held at the Manor Art Cinema and also at the Art Towne Cinema in Plantation, FL (also owned by the same owner, Carlos Cyrulnik) circa 1982-1985 was called “The Film Forum: An Examination of the Film Experience.”

The “Film Forum” was the creation of host, director, scholar Arch Angelus Sturaitis, an artist/writer originally from Canada who moderated a weekly discussion with headliner directors, actors, producers, movie critics and a wide range of experts expounding on the featured films being screened at the theatres.

South Florida premieres of “Say Amen Somebody”, “Siberiade”, “Gabriela”, “Heart Like a Wheel”, “Land of Look Behind”, Berlin Alexanerplatz", “Gaijin” among many, many other memorable Foreign/International films attracted unprecedented full house audiences of more than 300 patrons.

The Film Forum explored cinematographic, social and aesthetic issues inspired by themes of “Women in Film”, “Gay/Lesbian Cinema”, “Movies as a Medium of Social Conformity or Societal Dissent”, “New Wave Cinema from Germany, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Brazil”, “Idealized History: Period Piece Dramas and Epic Films”. Some of these themes became stand-alone enrichment Film/Communications courses taught by Arch Angelus Sturaitis at Broward Community College, Florida Atlantic University and by popular demand as special guest lectures at Nova Southeastern University and University of Miami.

The Film Forum with Arch Angelus Sturaitis was widely covered by the Press: Candice Russell of the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel; Bill Cosford of the Miami Herald; Skip Sheffield of the Boca Raton News; Jack Sturdy of the TWN, among others. Many radio and TV personalities also joined with these critics in the annual Oscar Gala Discussion at the Manor, a very popular program for the film crowd.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 30, 2010 at 5:38 am

Are you forgetting that the Cinematheque in Miami had been doing a similar program since the seventies and showed those same film films first?

WhoWhatWhereWhyHow
WhoWhatWhereWhyHow on October 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

The 80’s saw a very robust, competitive foreign film/art film market in the South Florida Tri-county area.

Distributors pitted exhibitors to bid for the opportunity to show these new releases first against different incentives, offerring for example exclusive screenings, test screenings, variable guarantees, advertising support, visiting artists, etc., for the different films.

The “Film Forum” created a promotional and educational venue via the Manor Art and Art Towne that exhibitors acknowledged attracted and fostered an important and valuable audience for these unique and sometimes difficult films, and for this reason, The Film Forum was often rewarded with many exclusive presentation opportunities.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on October 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

Update information for above. The theater is now the home to the Wilton Auction.

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