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The Washington Post is reporting that the Phoenix Adlabs Union Station 9 in Washington D.C. will be closing its doors soon.
Opened in 1988 as part of the renovation of the station, the Union Station 9's theaters are named after the classic old movie palaces that once dotted the District --the Roxy, Palace, Orpheum, Penn and so on. But there was nothing classic about the look or experience of the Union Station multiplex, which, because of its location at the crossroads between the affluent and impoverished parts of town, became a symbol of the very different moviegoing cultures in this country.
Some patrons were appalled at how Union Station audiences cheered, jeered and otherwise made noise during the movie, while other patrons felt they were singled out for undue attention from security guards. The divide sometimes turned into a debate about race and class--not exactly what a movie theater operator is hoping for.
But it wasn't that socio-political split that led to the decision to shut down the theaters. Rather, as David Ball, president of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, put it in his testimony on the Hill, "The movie theaters are basically losing money. They don't draw the crowds." Ball says the new owners of the retail complex intend to put other shops in the space currently occupied by the theaters.
At the end of the article, the author challenges his readers to rise up in defense of the theater's reputation, but few messages left in reply opposed his viewpoints that the theater conditions were poor and the crowds were poorly controlled by theater management.
Upon hearing plans that the lease owner for Union Station plans on expanding the food court, Representative John Mica from Florida complained that he won't even go there any more to eat because of being hassled by panhandlers (Union Station is located less than a mile away from Capitol Hill). It would seem that the source of the theater's troubles extend far beyond the red velvet ropes.
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