Why Marcus Point Cinema is dying
With his reputation for the lowbrow, the star of The Hangover, and the recent hit film The Dark Knight Rises, Marcus point cinemas is in trouble.
Why has the iconic movie theatre in Fairfax, Virginia, been sold?
“He just keeps putting it on the market,” says its owner, David Hensley, who has been in the business for over 40 years.
“It just keeps going up and up.”
He doesn’t have a clear answer, and neither does the city of Fairfax, which has been struggling to come up with an answer for a decade.
What he does know is that the Fairfax Film District, which opened in 1976, is the only one left in the country that still plays movies in the classic cinema style.
Its main auditorium, the George Washington, is a three-story building that seats 50 people, a small fraction of the moviegoers that were in the 1940s and 1950s.
But the area surrounding the George has fallen into disrepair, and Fairfax’s downtown is shrinking, leaving only the Fairfax Theatre, which is a block away, and a couple of smaller theaters, like the one in Marietta.
The theatre has a reputation for being a family-friendly place, but that reputation has fallen apart as well.
The building is now home to a handful of movie theaters, which were once packed every weekend, but now sit empty.
When Fairfax moved into its downtown headquarters in 2014, it brought in new management to help restore the theatre.
The new owners hired a local architectural firm to design a new facility.
At first, it seemed like a success.
With the building in good shape, the new owners decided to keep the old auditorium.
Then things started to go awry.
And then they tried again.
It didn’t go well.
They had to start again.
This time, they hired a new company.
A third time, and again, the building was sold to another company.
And again, again, another company, the Fairfax Public Theater Company, which also runs the George’s iconic theatre.
Now, it seems the building is going to be demolished.
While Fairfax Public Theatre is the oldest of the theatres in Fairfax County, it has not been around for long.
The last movie there, 2001’s The Last Samurai, was shot in 1972, and is the last film the theatre plays.
It was purchased by the Fairfax County Arts Council in 2017 for $250,000.
After the Fairfax Entertainment Commission bought the building last year, it closed the theatre’s doors for good.
Hensley says that was a terrible decision for the theatre and for the city, but he still feels a responsibility to the community.
He knows the theatre is gone.
But he knows it can be revived, and that he is the one to do it.
In the meantime, he plans to start a new theatre on his property, where he hopes to reopen it in 2018.
That new theater will have a lot of seating and be better lit, and it will be open every night of the week.
If he succeeds, he believes Fairfax will be the last remaining cinema in Fairfax.
So, why is Fairfax struggling so badly?
Why is the Fairfax Arts Council so short-sighted?
Why are the city’s downtown buildings being built over old film houses that have been in disrepair for years?
And what happens if this is the end of Fairfax?
What happens to the Fairfax film district if Fairfax goes out of business?
The city will have to buy the Fairfax property and turn it into a museum.
That’s why they’re building a museum for the film district.
But what will happen to the historic Fairfax Public Cinema?
Will it be sold to someone else, like a movie house in another part of the country?
Will the Fairfax area be left without a place to go to watch movies?
Will they be left with the same problems that other parts of the city are facing?
How will the city help Fairfax’s film district survive, or at least keep it alive?
The Washington Post contacted Fairfax Public Film District and the Fairfax Planning and Zoning Commission for comment, but they did not respond to our inquiries.
Follow us on Twitter: @The_WashPost