Rumors of closing rile cinema patrons

The Oak Street Cinema's closing could hinder surrounding businesses' profits.

As rumors surrounding the closing of Stadium Village’s Oak Street Cinema circulate the University area, community members are already preparing for the loss.

Andrew Uzendoski, a 2006 University alumnus and server at The Lotus Restaurant next door to the cinema, said the theater closing would likely translate to a decrease in the restaurant’s business.

Uzendoski said he has already seen a drastic commercial makeover of the block, and worries The Lotus could be the next to go.

“Working here, it seems like every six months this place could go out of business,” he said.

But for Uzendoski, the closing of the Oak Street Cinema would mean more than just losing customers.

He has many fond memories of the Oak Street Cinema: coming to Minneapolis for the first time to see an international movie, attending the annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival and having class in the theater during the 2004 University strike.

He said he views the projected closing of the theater as the loss of the final “community pillar” that transcends the generational gap.

“That’s one last thing the next generation can’t share,” he said. “What can we share now?”

Now that the theater may close, Uzendoski said it could be his cue to leave the community soon as well.

“I’m really glad I was here when it was here, but I don’t know what this place is going to look like when it’s gone,” he said.

Phuong Huyng, an employee at the Jasmine Orchid restaurant across the street from the cinema, said a lot of the restaurant’s business comes from moviegoers.

“Whenever there’s a movie, it helps us a lot,” she said.

Huyng said the international movies bring in crowds from outside of the area that often fill the restaurant before a showing.

“So if the movie’s gone, you lose that percentage from outside the community,” she said.

Michael Montag, a cultural studies and comparative literature and studies in cinema and media culture senior, said he used to visit the Oak Street Cinema at least once a week, but recently that has changed.

“I would say within the last year I frequented the Oak Street hardly at all – maybe a handful of times,” he said. “They’re showing less and less things now.”

When he did go, Montag said he rarely saw an audience that filled more than a quarter of the theater.

“It’s very difficult for a business like the Oak Street to even succeed at any level if there aren’t people who are going to support them on a regular basis,” he said.

Montag said it would be disappointing to see his favorite movie theater close.

“I think if it does close down completely, it will just represent, if nothing else, the tragedy of small-time cinema,” he said.

Amy Daubenspeck, a child psychology junior and former box office attendant at the Oak Street Cinema, said she would miss the “artsy and cultured” crowd that she met working there.

Daubenspeck said she will try to see a few more shows and possibly volunteer for spring events, if they still happen.

“I’ll be working at the film festival, I hope,” she said.