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Houston's landmark Greenway Theatre to close
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
The Greenway Theatre, which has screened films in the basement of Greenway Plaza for 35 years, will close at the end of this year.
Employees say Landmark Theatres lost its lease at 5 East Greenway Plaza. Landmark, a chain that specializes in independent and foreign films, has operated the Greenway since 1994.
A board designated for patrons' reviews of offered films has turned into a makeshift memorial as people protested the closing.
Written lamentations of "We will miss you" and "NO" in bold, penciled script were posted, along with a message from a self-described 30-year patron who simply offered: "We are sorry."
Less than a dozen patrons were found in the green-walled establishment Monday evening.
Ron Shefman said he started coming to the theater when it first opened. He expressed sadness at the news of the closing, recalling past visits.
"We're crushed. We come here all of the time — it doesn't have the craziness that other theaters have," Jill Gentsch said.
Just a few blocks away, a large national chain of theaters drew far more Monday evening moviegoers, causing traffic to stall on nearby streets.
But Gentsch and Shefman said they both prefer the subterranean cinema.
"The Greenway attracts a 'more mature' audience," Gentsch said.
Landmark informed theater employees Saturday, two days before Christmas, that they'd be laid off. A sign taped to the ticket booth announces the closing and refers all questions to Landmark's corporate office.
It also reads: "Hope you remember us fondly."
On Christmas Eve, representatives for both Landmark and its landlord, Crescent Real Estate Equities, were unavailable.
The three-screen Greenway is Houston's second-oldest movie theater, behind River Oaks Theatre.
When the Greenway opened in 1972, it was hailed as an important part of developer Kenneth Schnitzer's Greenway Plaza. The development's mix of uses —office space and retail with entertainment such as the theater and a basketball arena — was considered visionary.
The Greenway's last screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
Chronicle photographer James Nielsen contributed to this report.