Monday, January 9, 2012

Palace final weekend

And so it went. The final weekend of the storied Palace Cinemas in downtown Windsor. It was slightly lonesome Saturday evening showing up for the 9.40 pm Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Not as many people as one might have hoped were there to commemorate 90 years of the theatre screening movies downtown, although staff said there had been a steady stream of well-wishers talking in their last movies at the cineplex all weekend.....Three movies were on offer. The fourth cinema had already been decommissioned, with a startling view of dismantled seats and piles of seat cushions, giant speakers removed from behind-the-screen, and a mostly sheared off silver screen itself, torn by an exacto knife, said a staffer. (The screen wasn't needed since newer digital cinemas use different material for screens.) Seats were on sale for $15 a pop, and about $400 worth had been sold over the past day. A nice touch was that staff was handing out passes for films at the Lakeshore Cinemas in Tecumseh, also owned by Imagine Cinemas of Windsor. The Palace closed Sunday to make way for the building’s gutting and renovation to become the new home of The Windsor Star, part of a multi-faceted downtown redevelopment scheme.....Patrons showing up at the box office were mostly upset and sentimental about the Palace closing. Windsor actor Leslie McCurdy, who was found talking with a friend near the box office, said it was a shame. “Vibrant cities need vibrant downtowns,” she said, adding that when she travels she loves to stay downtown and be near entertainment venues. “The best little movie theatre is closing up,” she said wistfully. Patrick Pakula, a U of W student, made a point of coming down on the final weekend. “The Palace Cinemas has been a staple in downtown Windsor for a long time,” he said. Matt LeBlanc of Windsor said he had just heard about the closure and came down for "one last hurrah." He likened the theatre's closing to, “a kick in the head.”.....Projectionist Mike Micelli (photo above reserving seats purchased by customers) is the third generation of his family to work at the Palace. His granddad managed the old classic Palace before its renovation in the mid-1980s. His father was an usher. He said the closure “came out of nowhere” and “I feel like I’m getting shoved out.” He said the staff of about 10 is close knit and hope to keep contact after the theatre closed. A wall to write final messages was a nice touch though staff conceded it will probably just be demolished when the renovation gets underway.

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