The Plight of Cleveland Movie Houses




As holiday movie season hits high gear, the old Parma Theatre will be open for business, with first-run flicks priced to move at around five bucks a person. That hasn’t been the case in recent months, when the nostalgic 1936 movie house would often go dark on weekday nights.

“We’ve been doing this on and off for years,” says the theater’s owner, Norman Barr, countering a recently published rumor elsewhere that the occasional shutterings are a harbinger of the Mayan apocalypse. “Sometimes people just don’t show up, so we close.”

Years of the same audience indifference over in Lakewood has given way to outrage and protest in recent months, as the beloved, dead Detroit Theatre walks its path to execution so that one additional McDonald’s might be shoehorned into the local landscape. Though the Lakewood theater owner’s pact with Ronald has yet to be etched in blood, the city has signed off on the plan.

And the owner in question: The very same Norman Barr.

No rube when it comes to playing the 21st-century cinema game, Barr has also been looking to unload his Parma theater for years. He would love to find someone to carry the torch — or a restoration group interested in sinking the necessary dough into sprucing up the old lady. Or even a controversial restaurant chain bent on subversively making our children waddle like greased penguins.

But despite the Parma theater’s prime location at the corner of Ridge and Snow roads, nobody’s biting so far. Plus, one theater worker adds, “There’s already a McDonald’s just down the street.”


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