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After 30 years, Narrows Theater is closing

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Jan. 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm with No Comments »
January 28, 2013 3:02 pm

It’s curtains for another Tacoma-area movie theater.

The Galaxy Narrows Theater will play its last film Thursday night.

Theater personnel confirmed today the multiplex, 8-screen theater at 2208 Mildred St. W. in University Place will join a handful of chain theaters that have closed their doors in the Tacoma area in the last decade.

Executives of the Sherman Oaks, Calif., movie chain, Galaxy Theaters LLC, didn’t return calls Monday.

Galaxy took over the theater, which was an AMC theater from its opening in 1983 until 2009, some three years ago.

Galaxy’s sole Pierce County theater now is the Uptown Cinema in Gig Harbor.  The Narrows theater’s closure will leave the central Tacoma area with only two theaters, the independent single-screen Blue Mouse in the Proctor business district and the four-screen non-profit art house, the Grand Cinema near downtown.

In 1990, eight theaters with 36 screens were showing movies within Tacoma’s corporate limits.  Besides the two independent theaters, none remains.

Another Galaxy Theater, the Central on Pine Street, was converted to a church in 2010.  The 8-screen Lincoln Plaza near the Tacoma Mall is now a health club.  The Tacoma Mall Twin was razed and a doughnut shop was built on its site. The Tacoma West and Tacoma South multiplexes were closed and converted to other uses.

For Tacomans looking for mainstream movies,  the nearest chain theaters are the Regal Lakewood off south 84th Street and the AMC Lakewood Town Centre in that suburban shopping center.

The Grand and the Blue Mouse have begun changing their mix of movies to show more mainstream releases. The Grand, for instance, is now showing “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Lincoln,” both nominated for numerous awards.  The Blue Mouse is showing the James Bond thriller “Skyfall.”

Even those two theaters have struggled to evolve with the introduction of new technology.  The Blue Mouse recently completed a successful campaign to re-equip its theater for digital projection. Studios soon won’t be distributing movies on film but instead will use digital versions of their movies in theaters.

The Grand has raised enough funds to convert one of its theaters to digital and is working to raise more money for converting its three other auditoriums.

While developers in the last decade have shown interest in building new stadium-style theaters in Tacoma, only one chain, Century, has made a commitment to a new theater in the state’s third-largest city.

Century has signed a deal with the developers of a mixed use residential and retail complex near Point Defiance Park called Point Ruston to build a new nine-screen cinema. Construction of that movie complex could begin as soon as this summer.

The theater’s closure is another blow to the strip mall where the movie house is located. Another longtime business in that same center, the Keg steakhouse, closed Jan. 19.


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