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Are there any local theaters that show independent films?

John Staton

For the most part, the Cinematique film series (www.whqr.org/cinematique) at Thalian Hall (www.ThalianHall.com) is the main outlet in Wilmington to see independent and smaller films that don’t make it to the local multiplexes. Usually, these films don’t play here until well after their initial release, in some cases just before or even after they’re available on DVD.

Cinematique, which is a collaboration between Thalian Hall and public radio station WHQR, usually screens films in the hall’s main stage space. But while the main stage is being renovated, Cinematique is being held in the hall’s Archives Theater, or the refashioned studio theater.

Occasionally, Lumina Theater (www.UNCW.edu/Lumina) on the campus of UNCW will screen second-run independents that didn’t play Wilmington. (A recent example is the Coen Brothers film ‘A Simple Man.’)

Sometimes, the Broadway at the Beach cinemas in Myrtle Beach will get movies that don’t come here. (Recently, Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,’ which features the last performance of the late Heath Ledger, and ‘The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans,’ Werner Herzog’s follow-up to the 1992 cult classic directed by Abel Ferrara.)

There’s also The Cucalorus Film Festival (www.Cucalorus.org), which is held at various venues each November, and the Brown Coat Pub & Theatre (www.BrownCoatTheatre.com), which recently started a monthly series featuring independent films made in Wilmington.

The reason why more smaller or independent film don’t play in Wilmington appears to be an economic one. Southeastern North Carolina is a much smaller market than, say, Charlotte, The Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) or The Triad (Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem).

Individuals can petition the multiplexes for certain movies, but often, films are marketed in a way that prevent them from playing in Wilmington when they first open (we get very few ‘limited’ releases) if at all. Many small-budget films start out in large markets before gradually making their way to smaller ones, hoping for good reviews and word of mouth to make up for lack of an advertising budget. Often, maybe even usually, that road ends well before many of these films reach Wilmington.

There are some who argue that, with Wilmington’s status as a film town and its large college population and influx of summer visitors, it could support an independent cinema. Over the years, however, several investors have looked at starting a strictly independent ‘art house’ cinema in Wilmington, but so far with no results.

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3 Responses to “ Are there any local theaters that show independent films?”

  1. On March 20, 2010 at 8:34 am Debra Templeton wrote:

    That sounds great! I am planning on moving here soon and am a huge independent film buff.

  2. On April 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm Charlotte Davis wrote:

    The arts are an investment to attract businesses to locate here and tourists to visit. I think people have moved here, vacation here or go to school here from where they have enjoyed independent films. There is enough support to make it work.

  3. On April 14, 2010 at 10:59 am Kat wrote:

    There are several local film festivals that show independent films besides Cucalorus. The group, the Cape Fear Indepenedent Film Network, has a festival at the end of April in fact! (www.cfifn.org)

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