Curtain falls on Halifax's iconic Oxford Theatre
Halifax moviegoers are mourning the loss of the city’s iconic Oxford Theatre as it closes its doors for good.
Cineplex announced last month that the building at the corner of Quinpool Road and Oxford Street has been sold to Nanco Group, a local business owned by the Nahas family.
In the lead-up to Wednesday’s closure, Cineplex hosted a special week of programming featuring screenings of iconic films that have played at The Oxford over its 80-year history. The screenings included classics like Casablanca, Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Grease.
The theatre went dark after a final screening of Titanic Wednesday evening. Singing in the Rain was shown prior to that.
Most of the special screenings sold out in advance, with moviegoers scrambling to catch one last flick at the historic single-screen theatre.
"Singing in the Rain was probably one of the first movies I ever saw here in the 50s, so when my daughter called to get tickets and this was the only one available, I said it's rather appropriate," said moviegoer Joan Lively.
Aimee Silver and her husband Jay were married at the theatre on Sept. 3, 2005. She says they live in the neighbourhood and will miss having date night at such a special place.
"My husband and I met for the first time, it was a group gathering, we all came out to see Being John Malcovich," says Silver.
The building’s new owner, Norman Nahas, has said they haven’t finalized plans for the building yet, and, so far, there are no plans to tear it down. Nahas says he will work to keep the Oxford’s legacy in the building's new plans, which will likely include commercial, retail and residential space.
The Oxford opened in 1937 and has been known for showing more independent and art-house films in recent years. Cineplex has said it will be transitioning those films to neighbouring Cineplex theatres, like Park Lane.
Wayne Carter of the Atlantic International Film Festival says there aren’t many single-screen theatres left in Canada.
"It is part of a bygone era,” Carter says, “where there was one large screen, a very small lobby and people sort of lined up outside."
The company has said employees of the Oxford also work at the Park Lane theatre, so the closure won’t impact staff.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.