A local landmark has received high cinematic praise from a popular Instagram account.
Accidentally Wes Anderson (@accidentallywesanderson) is devoted to sharing single-frame photographs of architecture, objects, transportation and other mise en scène that capture the color story and sense of place typical of a Wes Anderson film (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The French Dispatch, et al).
Devoted to "the unique, the symmetrical, the atypical, the distinctive design and amazing architecture that inspires us all," the Accidentally Wes Anderson Instagram and its associated website feature images of snowy funiculars, pastel factories, luxe railcars and seaside destinations.
And now, Clifton's Esquire Theatre.
Over the weekend, the page shared a photo of the art house cinema's exterior, with a caption detailing the history of the Esquire — and the time it almost became a fast food chain location.
The theater, which was built in 1911 as the Clifton Opera House, originally showed performances and silent films (accompanied by live organ music), per the Esquire's website, before it moved onto "talkies" in 1927. It became a prominent art house theater before shuttering its doors in 1983.
Wendy's got wind of the closure and proposed a plan to turn the Esquire building into a fast food restaurant.
Residents were having none of that and the case to keep the theater eventually went to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Esquire Theatre reopened in 1990 as the cinema it is today.
The Accidentally Wes Anderson caption reads in part:
When Wendy’s discovered the Esquire sat unused, they jumped at the chance to bring square burgers and Frosty’s to the neighborhood — but they were in for a big surprise. Clifton residents weren’t interested in what was on Wendy’s menu, and instead, wanted to preserve the Esquire. A three-year development battle ensued, leading residents to band together in opposition of (the) developers.
Clifton won, and the Esquire was saved. Today, the Esquire remains the only independent theater in the U.S. to show first-run Hollywood films, and has been celebrated as a “film industry rarity” for it. As it turns out, if patrons are really craving a burger, there’s a Wendy’s about 5 minutes down the road. Though we think they’d probably prefer to snag a soda and popcorn from the concession stand instead.
And while at one point there may have been a chance you could run into actor Bill Murray on Ludlow Avenue — his son Luke was the assistant basketball coach at Xavier University from 2015-18 — and Hollywood frequently uses Cincinnati as a filming location, the Queen City has never made its way into an Anderson flick.
But highlighting the unique aesthetic and exterior of the Esquire for Accidentally Wes Anderson's 1.6 million followers? Almost as good.