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Spotlight: Coolidge Corner Theatre

by Danielle Bozzone

Photography by Michaela Johnston

While it may not be the oldest movie theatre in the country, the Coolidge Corner Theatre often feels like it could be.. The screening rooms make you feel as though the curtain could rise at any moment to reveal a Broadway cast. The opulence of the theatre itself is pleasantly complemented through the movies it shows and the attitude of the employees.

After almost closing down in the late ’80s, the theatre was saved by a group of people so passionate about film that they were motivated to preserve the theatre at all costs. After years of legal battles and petitioning, in 1989 Boston real estate mogul Harold Brown provided the funds needed to save the building, buying the entire building for 2.6 million dollars, and leased it for 99 years to The Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation.

Still running today as a non-profit, the theatre functions more like a shrine to film than a as business. From the luxe theatre spaces to the way they screen their selected films, the theatre prioritizes showing you a filmmaker’s work the way it was meant to be viewed. The Coolidge Corner Theatre is one of the few theatres in the Boston area that still shows movies on film.

Greer Glassman (CAS ’17), an employee of the theatre, said, “It's such a privilege to get to experience [film projection] first hand, not just as an employee, but as a viewer and lover of cinema. Unlike digital projection, the aesthetics of film are that of nostalgia.The color palette and overall viewing experience feels more engaging and sentimental.”

While the film screenings are undeniably special there are some screenings of recent films, such as Boyhood and the upcoming Snowden, that are presented in a digital format. However, the—often themed—film screenings bring out movie fanatics by the hundreds. This Halloween season, the theatre is highlighting horror classics all month long with titles like The Amityville Horror on 16mm film, and The Exorcist and Poltergeist on 35mm film.

The main attraction, however, is the theatre’s annual Halloween Horror Marathon featuring Scream and Scream 2 as well as two secret films not revealed until they appear on the screen in front of you. This marathon is part of their popular “After Midnite” series of screenings that pays homage to the beginnings of cult cinema.

“Some of my parents’ favorite memories growing up were going down to the town theatre late at night and watching these crazy cult movies,” said Veronica Russell (CAS ’17).“I’m really grateful that I can do the same thing because everyone there is genuinely so passionate film in general, but also about these weird movies. It’s overall a great atmosphere.”

If horror movies or classics, aren’t your thing there is something at the Coolidge Corner Theatre for everyone. From concerts, both live and on film, to kid-friendly flicks, the Theatre showcases everything the entirety of cinema has to offer.

“Even though I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the movies that they show, I really like going because it is so beautiful and it’s nice to have something so unique so close by,” said Marsha Kubyshko (CAS ’17). It’s definitely a great alternative to typical movie viewing.”

No matter your personal taste in genre, it is undoubtedly a worthwhile experience to see a movie on film, often as the director wanted it to be seen, while we still can.

Glassman added, “Sometimes we get in certain film reels that have their own stories, they've been run through projectors in other countries, over decades and have been viewed, in some cases by their respective directors. It's a treasure to have that come through our theatre, and to be a tiny part of a cinematic viewing history, as corny as it may sound.”

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