A few weeks ago, we told you about the impending closing of the Roxy Theater at the 2023 Sansom St., on one of our favorite blocks in town. At the time, we lamented that the cinema’s closing would mark the end of a slow death spiral for mainstream, first run movies on the big screen in Center City, which began decades ago.
On Tuesday, we received a press release with wonderful news- the Roxy will be taken over in short order by the Philadelphia Film Society. According to Philly Mag, PFS will be doing various renovations to the interior of the building in the coming months, including new screens, new seats, and a new sound system. As far as plans for movies, PFS wants to make the Roxy go even farther than the Ritz theaters in terms of independent and arts pictures, with tentative plans to have a weekly Rocky Horror Picture Show event. With the possibility of alcohol sales further in the future, the reimagined Roxy could be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and would probably see far more customers than in its prior incarnation.
So why are we nervous?
Sure, the Roxy isn’t a multiplex and could never fill those needs anyway, but the end of its days as a mainstream first run theater represents the end of an era in Center City. Call us selfish or lazy, but we just don’t want to shlep to Delaware Ave. or Temple or West Philly to see Pitch Perfect. Is it too much to ask for a ten screen theater at the Gallery? Or on that vacant patch of land, currently the PHS pop-up garden, which used to be a theater but burned down? Or for the Pennsylvania Ave. Whole Foods to relocate, and for a cinema to spring up there?
Or should we just grin and bear it and hoof it?