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Boyd Will Stay Closed Through 2011

Rain damage deprives owner of busiest season; a repurposing of theater might be considered.

The Boyd Theatre, closed since May because of water damage, will remain closed through the end of 2011, its owner announced today.

In the meantime, repairs to the 90-year-old downtown landmark will continue with an eye on re-opening next year – perhaps with some different programming than its traditional slate of first-run movies.

The cinema was forced to close its doors just before Memorial Day after days of heavy rain caused leaks to the inside of the auditorium.

“With the freakish monsoon-like rain that hit the area in the spring, we saw damage in locations where we have never seen water before,” said Joyce Heydt, the owner, through a news release. “I knew we needed to nip this problem in the bud before we could even think about addressing the cosmetic damage.”

But the extensive building repairs means the loss of the summer movie blockbuster season, the time of year when the theater makes the most money. Reopening for the fall, when cinema business drops, makes little economic sense, said Rob Hopkins, a spokesman for the theater.

Though the Christmas season can also be a busy time at the movies, it is too short to sustain theater operations for the slow times of year, he added. “The summer is what makes or breaks the business,” Hopkins said.

In the news release, Heydt said she “looks forward to using the time to make some minor modifications to the theater and concentrating on the retail and office space in the building.“

“My family has been showing movies for over fifty years, and the motto of ‘the show must go on’ is one we have always lived by,” said Heydt. “We just need to make sure everything is done right.”

At the same time, Heydt put out what Hopkins described as an “open call” to community members to step forward and approach her with ideas about making modifications to convert the theater to a performing arts venue or some other use.

Hopkins said community and business leaders have in recent years – and since the theater’s temporary closing – have approached Heydt about making some changes. While building renovations are continuing, now is a good time to have those conversations, he said.

“We will certainly entertain any of those options, while keeping focused on the task at hand,” Heydt said in the news release.

Heydt and her late husband, Harold, bought the in 1970. At the time, they also owned the Nile Theatre, which was located less than a block away, and the 19th Street Theatre in Allentown.

The theater opened in September 1921 as the Kurtz Theatre, built by two local businessmen who also ran a cabinetry and furniture manufacturing business. Following a series of ownership changes, the building was acquired by Philadelphia based A.R. Boyd Enterprises and was renamed the Boyd Theatre in 1934. A fire destroyed the front portion of the building in 1966 and the following year the façade, lobby and marquee were replaced with more modern design elements.

Despite the advent of mall-based multiplexes, the news release said the theater has thrived these years because it has continued to “run first-run films at . The theater was one of the first in the region to embrace Dolby Stereo Sound.”

“The loyal customers of the Boyd are what really makes the theatre,” Heydt said in the news release. “Many families come to see every movie we play and I look forward to serving them again.”

Mary Anne Looby July 15, 2011 at 04:26 PM
So sorry to hear that! My husband and I had our first date at the Boyd in 1968. We saw the Graduate. Very risque for its time! We don't go to movies very often, but if there is something playing at the Boyd that we want to see, we make it a point to go there. Not big on the multiplexes, too noisy! The Boyd, though rough around the edges, stil evokes the memories of the big old time movie theaters of the mid century.

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