Tampa Theater set to add microcinema

by Tatiana Torres

Between the Falk Theater and the Tampa Theater, Tampa is known for its tourist attractions in relation to theater. Soon, University of Tampa movie lovers will have a unique new place to enjoy a variety of films with the opening of Tampa Theatre’s new microcinema.

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Tampa Theatre went public with plans to create a microcinema or what Tampa Theater employees are calling “T2” in 2020. 

Built in 1926, the Tampa Theater is one of America’s most beloved community landmarks. People who choose to visit the Theater enjoy entertainment under a realistic night sky with twinkling stars, in a romantic courtyard.

“The addition of a second screen fundamentally changes our business model for the better,” Tampa Theatre president and CEO, John Bell said in a news release. 

The new micro movie theater, to transform a space adjacent to the majestic 1,200-seat “starlit” movie house that opened at 711 N. Franklin Street, will accommodate 40 to 50 guests and offer an intimate filmgoing experience unlike any other in the Tampa Bay Area.

“There is a reason that a single-screen cinema hasn’t been built in 60 years,” said Bell. “T2 will allow us to serve our community in new ways by doubling our ‘shelf space’ and giving us the kind of programming flexibility Tampa Theatre has never had before.”

Alexandra Ortiz, UT sophomore nursing major and movie lover, voiced her opinions about T2’s opening. “I think this is great for the Tampa community,” said Ortiz. “I will definitely be one of the first to visit the new microcinema.”

The theater features a wide range of independent, foreign, and documentary films on a daily basis. The Tampa Theater was chosen by LIFE magazine as one of “America’s 21 Wonders.” Today it hosts more than 600 events annually, including first-run and classic films, concerts by touring artists, community events, and more. 

Natalia Cruz, sophomore english and theater major, stated how this will not only be a great way for movie lovers to come together but will also create more job opportunities.

“This new microcinema could give jobs to creatives in the area, and I love how it is meant for a more intimate theatre-going experience, so you can truly feel the craft of the artwork,” said Cruz. I am very interested to see what’s in store with this new microcinema.” 

Yet, some involved in the film, theater and arts community worry that the opening of this microcinema will lessen the attraction of the Tampa Theater. 

Faviola Baéz, sophomore nursing major, expressed her excitement for the microcinema opening. “I consider myself a movie and theater lover and even though it’s going to be a microcinema, which is basically a small theater, I hope people will still visit and understand how Tampa Theater’s history adds to the Tampa community, in a way that unites the film, theater, and arts community,” she said. 

T2, designed by local architectural firm Kreher/Barna and Boston Light and Sound, is expected to cost $1.3 million and be funded in part by a $650,000 grant through Hillsborough County’s Capital Asset Preservation program and private donations.

“Our guiding principle with Tampa Theatre has always been faithful restoration and preservation of the historic building first, with compelling programming coming in a very close second,” Bell said. “But with T2, we have – for the first time – an opportunity to start with a blank piece of paper and design the ultimate screening room with top-of-the line technology and perfect sight lines. I want Tampa’s true cinephiles to consider it the best screening room in town.” 

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020, with an opening in early 2021.

Tatiana Torres can be reached at tatiana.torres@spartans.ut.edu

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