Houston movie critics launch campaign to save River Oaks Theater

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Fans and patrons of the Landmark River Oaks Theater demonstrate against the potential closure of the historic cinema on Sunday, March 7, 2021 in Houston. Houston’s iconic landmark faces a real threat with its lease ending in late March, and Weingarten and Landmark Theaters have not come to an agreement on its fate.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

The Houston Film Critics Society launches its own efforts to save River Oaks, the cinema built in 1939 which is threatened by the fact that the lease between Landmark Theaters, which operates the theater, and Weingarten Realty, which owns the property, expires at the end of this month and no resolution is in sight.

The HFCS on Tuesday announced “Operation: Save Houston Cinema,” an effort “to rally public support for this remarkable monument” and preserve the essence of the theatrical experience, according to a statement.

“The River Oaks Theater is not just a fine example of classic cinema architecture,” HFCS President Doug Harris said in a statement. “It is a retreat, a temple, a kind of sanctuary. And it’s one of the few remaining showcases for independent and international films.

TEST: How a man came of age at the River Oaks Theater.

The initiative is to get as many people as possible to buy tickets for the theater, online or in person. The screening of “The Father” on Saturday night, a potential Oscar nominee starring Anthony Hopkins, is touted as “an ideal opportunity for those who are comfortable returning to theaters.”

Those who do not want to return to the theater can purchase gift cards to use at another time or to give as a gift. (The theater enforces mask and social distancing rules while the main auditorium downstairs will be limited to half its capacity.)

Landmark Theaters is also virtually screening the movie “Minari,” another potential Oscar nominee, offering another way to support the theater without having to enter.

“If it’s all about the money, then let the money do the talking,” Harris continued in the statement. “This theater means more to many Houstonians than any park, sanctuary, or statue, and no one is demanding to increase the ROI of trees. In such a large city, with the resources at our disposal, we cannot and must not lose another classical theater. “

For more information on “Le Père”, “Minari” or the gift cards, go to www.landmarktheatres.com/houston/river-oaks-theatre.

Members of the Houston Film Critics Society work as film journalists in print and television, radio, and online in Houston, San Antonio, and Southeast Texas.





  • Cary Darling

    Cary Darling joined the Houston Chronicle in 2017 where he writes on the arts, entertainment, and pop culture, with an emphasis on film and media. A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, he has served as a reporter or editor at the Orange County Register, the Miami Herald, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In addition, he has freelance work for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News.

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