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July 13, 2013

Theater had a niche

NORMAN — News of the closing of the dollar movie theater in Norman’s Robinson Crossing seems to have struck a nerve with many Norman residents. The theater, the Robinson Crossing 6, was a low-cost way for families and folks on fixed incomes to see movies shortly after they made big screen premieres.

Starplex Cinema thanked its past employers and loyal customers with an online posting. It’s kind of the passing of an era in Norman and opens the door for someone else to fill that void. Other theaters have shut down and taken on new lives.

The Sooner Theatre, built in 1929, was one of four theaters on Main Street. They competed with the Oklahoma, the University and the Varsity.

The Sooner was the survivor downtown. It quit showing movies in 1975 and became home to pigeons for many years before a community group rescued it. It’s now a city-owned and operated performance venue run by a board of directors and talented staff.

The Sooner also uses a former theater space a block east for its rehearsals and kid camps. A few other theater spaces have been repurposed. The Boomer Theater on Campus Corner is home to retail and office space. The Hollywood Theater on McGee Drive was an event center, then part of the Pioneer Library system space. Two other downtown theater sites are office spaces and a third is a retail store site.

If another operator doesn’t pick up the Robinson Crossing theater space with a movie venue, look for a church to move in there. That’s a successful, easy conversion that has happened in many cities.

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