As Art Houses Struggle, Port Theatre Roars Back

Categories: Film
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This week's Weekly feature story is about the struggle to survive for Southern California theaters that run art, indie and foreign films. Included in "The State of the Art House" are the experiences of Edwards University in Irvine, the Art Theatre in Long Beach and the Regency Lido in Newport Beach.

Across town from the Lido is the Port Theatre, which opened in 1950 and was operated as an art house by Landmark Theatres from 1989 to 1998. Corona del Mar's movie palace closed shortly after due to safety concerns.

In a rare bit of good news on the cinema front comes word the Port may reopen by the end of the year.

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Photo by Flickr user John *Ell
Roaring back.

That revelation is contained in Newport Beach City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner's latest newsletter (hat tip to Corona del Mar Today). The longtime community leader (and environmentalist) recently toured the theater with its owner.

She writes:

When I was in high school, one of my friends whose father was an architect wouldn't let him go to the Port Theater because he felt it was seismically unsound. Well, if an earthquake hits, and I'm anywhere near there, I'm ducking into the Port. One reason it hasn't come along as quickly as many had hoped is that they have done major retrofitting with big steel beams and trusses, not an easy job in an existing building, but now most of that is completed, and they anticipate being open this year.



Gardner was informed the new Port will have more of an upscale vibe that includes in-seat dining--much like what UltraStar Cinemas is doing in Anaheim. Not that you'd catch the councilwoman at either.

I'm crabby enough about the movie-going public with their cell phones and chatter. Add food service, and I'd just as soon watch in on my TV.

One group that must be un-crabby about this are organizers of the annual Newport Beach Film Festival. They have been working with Irvine Co. officials to come up with a Plan B after losing the screens at Fashion Island to a major remodel. The fest would surely love to have the Port in the fold this April, not that it's possible.
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