Quantcast

Chris Hicks: Bummer there isn't a new theater at City Creek

Published: Friday, March 30 2012 12:08 a.m. MDT

A website devoted to selling high-rise (and high-priced) condos downtown (www.citycreekliving.com) touts all the amenities available now that the City Creek Center has opened, as well as those that are nearby but not actually in the center.

Although, if you were to read it without knowing any better, you might think there are movie theaters right there in City Creek. Here's a quote from the online brochure: "City Creek lies at the center of it all, from live theater to the movies. … So what suits your fancy? … Perhaps something from Spielberg?"

Well, you might be able to find something from Spielberg if you want to hike down to City Creek's biggest competitor, The Gateway.

I remember thinking when the City Creek project was announced five years ago how great it would be to have a movie house return to the heart of the downtown area.

But 'twas not to be.

Not that the movie theaters nearest City Creek are all that far away. If you're looking for independent, art or foreign-language films, you can walk a couple of blocks to the southeast and find the Broadway Centre Cinemas. Or if you prefer mainstream fare, you can head west and find a Megaplex multiplex at the Gateway.

I must confess, however, that I'm still a bit bummed that there is no movie theater somewhere in this new downtown complex.

When I began my Deseret News movie-reviewing career in 1978, I could leave the office five minutes before show time and still buy popcorn at any one of four theaters before the film started. The Utah Theater was on the west side of Main, and the Utah 3 was right across the street; the Broadway was on 300 South, just west of State Street; and across the way, on the corner of 300 South and State, was downtown's crown-jewel movie palace, the Centre Theatre, with more than 1,200 seats.

The Utah had two auditoriums, but the rest were single-screen theaters.

Then, when the Crossroads Plaza opened the three-auditorium Crossroads Cinemas in 1980, it was an embarrassment of riches for downtown moviegoers with a total of eight — count 'em, eight — screens within walking distance! (And for a while, we also had the two-screen Elks and the single-screen Midtown.)

Then again, perhaps I'm letting my nostalgia become a little too rose-colored.

Today, we have no less than 18 screens in the area — the Gateway with 12 and the Broadway with six. And, as the old joke goes, there's still nothing to watch.

Perhaps 18 screens in the vicinity are thought to be plenty, especially considering all the modern competition that comes from big-screen TVs at home and all those shrunken screens you can carry around.

And even if that doesn't play into the equation, can anyone blame the City Creek folks for not wanting a movie theater in their midst? First, it would want to remain open on Sundays. And second, there are the kind of movies that grace big screens these days.

It might be a bit unseemly to have such sleazefests as "Project X," "Friends With Kids" and "21 Jump Street" playing next to the Disney Store or Tiffany's.

In fact, the Disney Store is really the closest City Creek comes to having a movie venue. Have you been in there? In some ways, it's sort of a mini theater. (Or should that be a Minnie theater?) Clips from Disney animated classics are shown on an in-store screen and there are interactive components that might be considered the ultimate in a 3-D experience. And don't forget that store employees are referred to as "cast members."

Come to think of it, the entire City Creek Center is sort of like a movie; it's so well-groomed and spiffy and, well, new. It's like one of those light comedies where each character lives in a trendy loft and wears designer clothes and eats meals at fancy dinner parties catered by restaurants most of us can't afford.

That is, it seems like one of those movies until you stroll beyond the high-end stores and wander into an area of the marketplace that feels more like real life, more down-to-earth — that is to say, in your own price range. Say, the food court.

Anyway, City Creek really does dress up Salt Lake City in a way that's been lacking in downtown for far too many years.

And, of course, I understand the practical reasons for there being no movie theater in the mix.

All the same, I kind of miss seeing one there.

EMAIL: hicks@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS