Westport Struggles to Bring Back Local Theater

Photo courtesy of SXC

Photo courtesy of SXC

Jon Loeb ’11
A&E Editor

Photo courtesy of SXC

Forty years ago, Westport had five movie theaters in town. Four of these movie theaters were in the downtown area- one was owned by the local Joselloff family- and another was dedicated to foreign films.

Today, none of these movie theaters exist. There are theaters located in Norwalk, Fairfield, Wilton, and even Bridgeport; Westport’s five no longer stand. The disappearance of these theaters has had an almost irrevisable effect on Westport.

“The loss of the movie theaters snatched the life out of downtown,” Dan Woog, a Westport historian, said.

RTM member Jonathan Steinberg has started an unnamed group that is “seeking a movie theater in Wesport.”

Like Woog, Steinberg is saddened by the loss of the local theaters.

“It was an embarrassment of riches. We took it for granted,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg’s group, which is currently trying out names such as The Westport Film Community Without a Home, is trying to bring a theater back to Westport, and therefore bring back downtown nightlife.

“In terms of having alternative things to do in downtown, there isn’t much,” Stienberg said.

According to Steinberg, “Everyone agreed on the movie theater idea.” But, getting one is another story.

Building and operating the theater may cost millions. For the time being, Steinberg wants to start off simple, yet is not putting the idea of a real movie theater away.

“For now we could use Town Hall as a theater. No one uses it during the weekends,” Steinberg said.

Woog also agrees that getting a movie theater would take years and millions.

“You need a site, money to operate, and the right films to fill the seats. This will be something for the Freshman to look forward to,” said Woog.

Students are excited at the prospect of a movie theater, and believe that downtown isn’t much of a hang out spot.

“There is no real place to go downtown [at night]. So instead many kids just party or stay at home,” said Jeff Loselle 10’.

The movie group doesn’t just want to bring back a theater. It also wants to make it more then just a normal movie experience.

“The viewers could hear something from an expert, and then have a discussion with them about the film. People need to have a reason to go out to a theater, rather than watch the movie at home on a DVD.”