Nine months after closing its doors due to a legal battle with the landlord over building maintenance, the Uptown Stage and Screen is officially shutting down for good.
Theatre owner Blake O’Brien says the legal dispute with landlord Strategic Group was resolved “satisfactorily,” however the theatre cannot afford to remain in business.
“It was a business call. We just decided that we couldn’t do it anymore,” says O’Brien. He says box office returns have been declining “precipitously,” and the challenges presented with operating an arthouse theatre in Calgary just became too much for the theatre to bear.
Calgarians “like to get out and frolic in the outdoors. It’s a highly affluent community... people can afford a home theatre setup and afford to pay for streaming downloads and all that kind of thing,” says O’Brien.
He says the theatre’s attempts to keep people downtown, such as for late afternoon matinees, drew a few patrons but simply not enough to make ends meet.
“I’m hoping there’ll be an opportunity for the public to get in and reminisce, maybe take some pictures or something like that. We’re going to keep people posted via Facebook and our website,” he says.
The Uptown has been in the historic Barron Building on Eighth Avenue S.W. for nearly 20 years. Building owner Strategic Group is now advertising rental opportunities in the building. Despite issues between the Uptown and Strategic over maintenance, Strategic’s website says, “the building’s windows, elevators, electrical systems and HVAC units will all be upgraded to improve the performance and efficiency of the overall structure.... When all is said and done, the Barron Building will have over 100,000 square feet of an office space “palate” where thriving, cutting edge, and stylish tenants can do more than just rent cubicle space — they can be a part of Calgary’s history.”