Another classic Seattle movie screen appears to be going dark. Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theater will be closing at the end of the month, the Capitol Hill Seattle blog reports.
The theater has called the old Masonic Temple at E. Pine St. and Harvard home for 30 years, and is a major outlet for the Seattle International Film Festival.
The building is owned by Seattle Central Community College, which confirmed Monday the Landmark Theatre chain declined to renew its lease on the building and would move out by the end of June.
“No decision has been made on what will happen to the theater space next,” a spokesperson told CHS.
Landmark has operated a handful of art-houses around the Seattle area for years, but has faced significant financial struggles. The Mark Cuban-backed chain failed to find a buyer when it was put up for sale several years ago.
The Egyptian is one of the last single screen theater’s in Seattle, and the economics are “darn difficult” to make work, said KIRO Radio film critic Tom Tangney.
Theater attendance continues to decline with the ongoing growth of on-demand offerings.
“A lot of theaters are shutting down because people don’t go out to theaters,” Tangney said.
Landmark sold its Metro Cinemas in the University District to Sundance Cinemas, which officially reopens next month with “reserved seating, big comfy seats with tablettes, stadium seating, brand new digital projection, a new full bar serving drinks and bistro fare.”
The Sundance Cinemas are far from alone. Several theaters in the area feature full-service dining, enhanced seats and other amenities that offer the experience of a fine restaurant with the comforts of home.
“They’re trying to figure out what’s going to attract people like the Ken Schram’s of the world to actually go out and see a movie outside their own home.”
In addition to showing films, Seattle Central also uses the 1915-era building for other school-related activities. Tangney said there’s some hope in the film community the school can partner with SIFF or another organization to allow the Egyptian to continue operating as a movie theater.
SIFF bought the old Uptown Cinemas on lower Queen Anne and continues operating it as a three-screen movie theater showing mostly independent and foreign films.
The continued closure of iconic Seattle screens seems inevitable, but is still sad for many.
“I think it feels like we’re losing something from our youth,” said KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank nostalgically.
“The problem is the economic model doesn’t work anymore. So be it,” said Tangney.