The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year

Posted by on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 3:56 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CHELSEA THEATER'S WEBSITE
  • photo courtesy of the Chelsea Theater's website
Though the Chelsea Theater is a Chapel Hill institution, it has never made a big deal about itself. Tucked away in the Timberlyne strip mall, almost literally in the shadow of the Regal multiplex, the little-art-house-that-could has discreetly held its ground in a volatile cinema market for almost thirty years.

So it’s no surprise that the Chelsea recently slipped a major announcement onto the “News and Notes” page of its ancient website, where no one would ever think to look. Unless a buyer comes through, the theater’s long legacy looks likely to end when the calendar rolls over to 2018.

The post, titled “The Chelsea’s Future,” states that the theater is in the final year of its current five-year lease. “With only a handful of months to go,” it says, “we must make some serious choices about the future of the Chelsea Theater.”

Citing the advancing age of current owner Bruce Stone, a local art-house hero who formerly owned the Varsity on Franklin as well, the post says it “might be difficult” to commit to another lease. But the post also raises the prospect of finding a buyer to carry on the “quality, personalized, intimate movie-going experience that has been the hallmark of the Chelsea Theater.”

Such a move has a recent precedent in the Triangle: Durham’s even older Regulator Bookshop just announced that it was purchased by two employees, Elliot Berger and Wander Lorentz de Haas, who will take over in March when founders Tom Campbell and John Valentine retire.

Reached by the INDY, Stone declined to elaborate at this time. While the Chelsea has surely felt the pinch of new luxury cinemas such as Silverspot, which carry some of the same art-house fare but in a plush, modern setting, something would be irrevocably lost were the Chelsea to close. It’s tiny and a tad dingy, with small screens and rickety chairs in bare-bones theaters, cheap wine and real buttered popcorn at the concession stand, and a great coffee shop next door. In other words, it’s everything an old-school art house should be, unadorned by all the fripperies that pure cinephiles don't need.

We’re rooting for a buyer (paging Ambassador Cinemas). If the Regulator can do it, why not the Chelsea?

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Laura Jaramillo - I chose to read here to suss out what you do. The clean, spare style seems perfectly …

by growlybear on Movie Review: Sebastián Lelio's Hotly Anticipated Disobedience Is a Strangely Flat Look at Lesbian Love in a Hasidic Community (Arts)

Sounds like a great festival! I enjoyed hearing about it through your lens.

by Lisa Joy Tomey on “At the Festival, We’re All Family”: Reflections on the Ninth Annual African American Cultural Festival in Raleigh (Arts)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Laura Jaramillo - I chose to read here to suss out what you do. The clean, spare style seems perfectly …

by growlybear on Movie Review: Sebastián Lelio's Hotly Anticipated Disobedience Is a Strangely Flat Look at Lesbian Love in a Hasidic Community (Arts)

Sounds like a great festival! I enjoyed hearing about it through your lens.

by Lisa Joy Tomey on “At the Festival, We’re All Family”: Reflections on the Ninth Annual African American Cultural Festival in Raleigh (Arts)

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

You probably want to refrain from using ableist language.

by vidvis on ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not. (Arts)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation