Grandview residents “shocked” at local theatre’s closing

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The Drexel Grandview theatre is set to close its door at the end of September. It's popular for its independent and foreign films.(Photo: Mandie Trimble)
The Drexel Grandview theatre is set to close its door at the end of September. It's popular for its independent and foreign films.(Photo: Mandie Trimble)

It’s a dying breed – the single screen movie theater. They are disappearing fast, unable to compete with the fancy new multi-plexes with their digital surround sound and stadium seating with cup holders. The latest victim is the historical Drexel Grandview theatre. It is set to close at the end of the month. WOSU found neighbors shocked to hear their beloved movie house is closing its doors.

“It’s a huge loss. I’m shocked.”

Gary Weaver got the news as he sat outside Stauf’s coffee shop – just down the street from the Drexel Grandview. He was reading the paper but had not gotten to the article about the closing at the end of the month.

“How can we stop this from happening? We don’t need another big box store up here. We need the independent restaurants and movies to stay in Columbus. That’s what makes Columbus unique from other cities,” Weaver said.

And Richard Morrow, who joined Weaver for coffee, feels the same way.

“It’s awful. I’m in shock because it’s one of maybe two theatres that show independent films. And we go here quite often. And if this closes there’s only one left that I know of maybe the one in Clintonville, but maybe not that one because it’s mainstream movies,” Morrow commented.

The Drexel Grandview is known for showing independent and foreign films. Right now the theatre’s billboard says it’s showing a Sundance Film Festival Winner – Man on Wire.

Man on Wire is a documentary about a Frenchman who secretly strung a tight rope across the World Trade Center towers and walked across them, without a net or harness, back in 1974.

Brent Shepard and his wife, who is a French teacher, said they’ve watched many films, especially French ones, at the Drexel.

“We enjoy being able to walk to see a movie. We do date nights during the week and many a date night has been coming to the Drexel for a movie. So, personally, we’re going to miss it,” Shepard said.

For some Drexel Grandview moviegoers the theatre does more than bring them good films, it brings back memories of a time when they had few worries.

Anne Gerdes, was trying to carry on a conversation with her girlfriend, sipping hot coffee with one hand and struggling to contain an energetic toddler with the other. She became teary-eyed when she heard the news of the closing.

“Oh, I remember going there probably when I was 13 or 14 for some of my first movie experiences. Going to see Annie, I don’t even remember, Ghostbusters,” Gerdes said.

The theater also brings back Gary Weaver’s childhood memories.

“It reminds me of when I was a kid. The Lincoln Theatre in Port Angeles, Washington I used to go, a little tiny small-town theatre. It just brings back the memories of being a kid again in an old-fashioned theatre instead of these huge theatres. Now granted the big theatres are nice but once in a while you want to get in touch with your childhood because it was fun back then. And it’s, it’s a shame,” Weaver said. The Drexel Grandview originally opened in 1928. It’s one of only a few single screen cinemas in the county and around the country for that matter. Owner and manager, Jeff Frank, said that’s part of the problem. Frank said it’s difficult to make any money from one screen. And he said costs have increased over the last several years prompting him to finally decide to close.

“In this economic climate and the way the movie business has changed we just feel that it’s not possible to make ends meet with a single screen theatre. So even though we think the theatre was supported we feel that economically we just weren’t making it, we needed to get, we needed there to be more screens there in order to make it work financially for us,” he said.

Frank said he did try to purchase the building in order to add more said a deal could not be reached.

Frank plans a grand closing on September 27th. After that he said his focus will be on his Drexel theater in Bexley.