On Opening Day, Parkville Location Pleases The Regulars
By JENNA CARLESSO
July 23, 2010
HARTFORD — — In nearly 40 years of operation, Cinema City developed a loyal following among art film lovers from all over New England.
So fans of the Brainard Road theater were relieved to hear that while the original movie house was closing, it would be reborn as a new wing of the Bow Tie Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater in the city's Parkville neighborhood. The new wing opened Friday, one day after the old theater closed.
"You could see things there you couldn't see anyplace else," Susan Janiak, a West Hartford resident, said of the beloved old theater. Janiak arrived at its new location on New Park Avenue Friday to see the first screening of "The Kids Are All Right," at 11:40 a.m.
"The films matter to me," she said. "As long as they had the kind of films they had before, I knew I would keep coming back."
Shortly before noon Friday, Cinema City at the Palace began to fill with customers, several of whom referred to themselves as "regulars" of the old Cinema City. Alvin Taylor of Bloomfield said he liked the new surroundings.
"I wasn't bothered by it as long as they continued to stay open," he said. "It's a good location, a little more modern."
Terri Page of West Hartford said she was excited about the enhanced amenities, including stadium seating, a new café, digital stereo sound and more parking. The new location has five screens, one more than the old Cinema City.
"I'm thrilled. Coming from West Hartford, it's closer for me," she said.
Cinema City brought along some of its history. On one wall, framed photographs of the old movie house hang above the same café tables and chairs. Nearby, guests can write reviews on the "You Be The Critic Board," just as they could at the Brainard Road theater. Joseph Masher, Bow Tie Cinema's chief operating officer, said there are plans to bring over more artifacts.
Customers of the old cinema probably will recognize the faces behind the concession and ticket booths — all employees were asked to work at the new location.
"While Cinema City was cool and fun, it was also really old," said Ben Moss, owner of Bow Tie Cinemas, Cinema City's parent company. "It wasn't suited to bring it up to the modern standard. While we are sad that [the old] Cinema City will no longer be a part of the Hartford community, we're thrilled to be able to move it over to here."
Masher said the company didn't want to alienate its loyal customers.
"It's the highest-grossing art house between New York and Boston," Masher said. "I'm confident that tradition will continue at Cinema City at the Palace."
Customers arrived in droves Thursday for the final showing at the original Cinema City, which opened in 1972. By 2:30 p.m., the parking lot was beginning to fill up. About 400 people watched two free films Thursday evening.
"We hate to see it go. They have such great films," said Betsy Lundy, who has been traveling from Longmeadow, Mass., to see movies at Cinema City for the past three years.
Disappointed, too, was Marc Longenecker of Cromwell, who said he and his friends "have a real addiction" to movies, particularly art films.
"When Hollywood releases are as terrible as they've been all summer, this is where you see the good movies," he said. Longenecker said he plans to go to the new location.
The Brainard Road property was sold to the Metropolitan District Commission for $2 million. The MDC said it plans to demolish the theater and use the land for an expansion of its water pollution control facility.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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