New Movie Theater Coming to Downtown Cincinnati

Cincinnati World Cinema rents the space that once housed The Movies repertory cinema and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

click to enlarge Sign at the entrance to the old Movies/Cincinnati Shakespeare downtown site. - PHOTO: Provided
PHOTO: Provided
Sign at the entrance to the old Movies/Cincinnati Shakespeare downtown site.

A startling and exciting new sign has appeared on the door of the entrance to the old Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St. in the Garfield Tower Apartments building: It says "Coming Soon... Cincinnati World Cinema."

And Tim Swallow, who long has run Cincinnati World Cinema and shown indie films, Oscar shorts, foreign movies, documentaries and other films at various locations — including Memorial Hall and the Cincinnati Art Museum — confirmed today that he intends to use the space as a permanent home, a film center/cinema.

"That is correct," he said. "The exact format, the opening date, the amenities are still to be worked out. We just signed the lease, so there's not a lot to share with you yet."

The space has significant symbolic meaning because in the 1980s it was home to the beloved The Movies repertory cinema. Its programs were common sights on refrigerators of movie lovers. Before that, it was known as The Place, a boutique-sized theater built in the days (late 1960s and early 1970s) when small first-run houses were popular in downtown as an alternative to the grand movie palaces. 

Cincinnati Shakespeare had been in the space for almost two decades before it relocated to its own new building in Over-the-Rhine. Swallow said the only thing remaining from the movie days are the seats, and some of those had been removed. He does, however, have his own projection equipment and screen.

While he still has much to figure out (including a name) for the cinema, he said he does plan to incorporate as a nonprofit in Ohio and to sell memberships. He also wants other alternative film presenters in town to be able to use the theater for their presentations. He still plans to use Memorial Hall when showing his annual Oscar-nominated shorts presentations, as demand is greater than the new space will be able to hold. Capacity will be 162 people, he said.

"We haven't really had a film center in Cincinnati for a long time," he said.

Swallow had earlier announced his intention to partner on developing the Showboat Majestic as a venue that could present films. He said he is no longer involved in that.

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