All the best movies play at the Crescent Theater. Before this Downtown Mobile treasure opened its doors in 2008, it seems like most Oscar-nominated films bypassed the Gulf Coast. The multiplexes were all about the largest and LOUDEST action flicks, or kids movies. Where could you go to find movies with dialogue? The future Best Picture nominees? Or little-known films that could pack a punch?
The Crescent changed the movies for Mobile and the Gulf Coast. Since they've opened, that's been our place to watch movies. We've seen great films like La La Land and The King's Speech and The Grand Budapest Hotel. And at the Crescent, my wife and I would sit down in cushy front row recliners (if we arrived early enough) with a couple of glasses of wine or beer, and then settle in to watch the show. It's an experience that's uniquely Mobile, and one that would be hard to lose.
But that appears to be exactly what may happen. On Wednesday, the Crescent Theater Film Society (which pays the rent on the building) announced the theater's closure:
This is where we all start finding ways to save it. Nobody wants this theater to close. It's not just a great place to see a movie; it's also a civic asset and a driver of the Downtown Mobile economy. Carol Hunter of the Downtown Mobile Alliance explained to al.com how the theater has changed our downtown:
"Before it opened, there was no happy hour scene, nobody downtown between 5:30 and 10:30 or 11," she said. "[The theater] was the first shoulder activity between daytime and nighttime. After [it] opened, people would get a drink, see a movie, eat dinner. It changed everything."
I spoke with Carol Hunter today at her office on Dauphin Street, and she doesn't seem to have given up. But the Crescent Theater Film Society doesn't have the money to keep paying the rent, and the current building owner would rather have theater operator Max Morey out of the picture (no pun intended).
Max is the face of the Crescent Theater -- the guy who often takes your money, usually introduces the film, and is considered by many to be an integral part of the Crescent Theater experience. And he owns the equipment. Thus, a Crescent Theater without Max may not be a theater at all. For his part, Max says that he's looking for a new location in the downtown area. And while that is a possibility, it would be ideal to keep the current building what it is today -- a beloved local movie theater and a place to see a great film.
But short on money and ideas, the Crescent Theater Film Society had to make the tough announcement on Wednesday. I can only hope that it brings a few good ideas to the forefront, and the Crescent Theater will live another day, to bring us the next great movie.
READ the story from Michelle Matthews at al.com; she explains this saga much better than I can.