Another landmark Salt Lake movie house is closing up shop this week. The Centre Theater at State Street and Broadway will play "Cocoon: The Return" through Tuesday evening as its final commercial run.

Then the Centre will briefly reopen the following week - on Feb. 2 - for a special one-night charity screening for the Salt Lake Valley Mental Health of Cecil B. DeMille's 1952 circus epic "The Greatest Show on Earth," starring Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton and James Stewart. Reservations for the fund-raiser may be made by calling 468-2360. Tickets are $25 each.The benefit screening will be the theater's last performance before the site is razed.

Cineplex Odeon Theaters has let its lease run out and there are plans to put an office tower and small shopping plaza on the corner, to include a six-screen movie house.

But it's hardly the same.

With the Centre gone there will be only two large single-auditorium theaters left in the valley - Mann's Villa Theater and Cineplex Odeon's Regency Theater.

And neither is as large as the Centre.

Smaller theaters can still gather some of that special magic that comes from sitting in a darkened room surrounded by strangers watching images flicker on a huge screen, but 1,000 people all sharing an emotion is certainly more invigorating than 500 or 200 or 20.

It's sad to see the Centre leave because that's one less such showplace in Salt Lake City. And because it perhaps marks the end of an era.

And it's just one step closer to all of Salt Lake's cardboard cutout crackerbox theaters being the rule rather than the exception.

If going out to a movie begins to seem too much like watching a video at home, people may just stop going out to a movie.