Jefferson Theater stops $3 flix

The Jefferson Theater, which has been serving up cheap movies since at least the 1970s, is going out of business for at least a year while it undergoes renovation by its new owner, music mogul Coran Capshaw.

The theater has been owned for 14 years by the Hook's editor, who plans to

transfer title to Capshaw later this month.

An employee-managed facility, the Jefferson has occupied an unusual position in civic history. On the one hand, it has played host to special events including concerts by Ben Folds Five, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, and– way back in the day– an evening with the legendary Harry Houdini. However, it's also a $3-per-ticket movie theater open 363 days a year with second-run movies– a mix of art house and blockbuster– on two screens.

That last business wraps up this Thursday with three near classics: Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Fargo, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. For its final three weeks in operation, the Jefferson has been charging just a dollar for everything: tickets, popcorn, sodas, and candy.

Many cinema aficionados will mourn the end of discount movies, with one particular loss being the upstairs theater, which has been Charlottesville's only stadium seating screening room since its creation when the theater was twinned in late 1983. The upstairs cinema was the site of Roger Ebert's first-ever scene-by-scene analysis of a film for the Virginia Film Festival: Citizen Kane in 1992.

In an exclusive interview with this blog (gee– wonder how we managed that?!), outgoing owner Hawes Spencer says that film-lovers will probably be pleased to know that Capshaw, although best known for the music acumen that led him to manage Dave Matthews Band, co-found Bonnaroo, and create MusicToday, does plan to continue a film program at the Jefferson, even if his exact plans on that front have yet to be finalized.

"History will continue to live at the Jefferson," says Spencer, citing Capshaw's goal of preserving the historic beauty of the 1912 structure while bringing in more special events.

The final day of the films is this Thursday the 15th of June.


1 comment

There's an interesting discussion about this over at Waldo's blog.