Downtown Regal Theater gets a makeover

New venue opening this fall aims to offer increased indie movie scene

The Regal Cinema on the Downtown Mall is set for a facelift in the fall of 2014, when the Violet Crown Charlottesville Cinema takes over its residence at the corner of 2nd and Main Street.

New owner Bill Banowsky said this remodeling will be a vast improvement from the current theater.

“Rather than being the worst seats in the auditorium, as front row seats typically are, our front row seats will be the most desirable seats in the auditorium,” Banowsky said.

The new theater will feature a restaurant and bar carrying local beers, ciders and craft cocktails. All food will be locally obtained and prepared on-site in an effort to engage the local community, Banowsky said. Seating will accommodate both dining and viewing experiences, with small tables for customers to place their food while watching a movie.

As for the theater’s film selection, the Violet Crown plans to offer a range from independent and art-house fare as well as widely-released movies that Banowsky says will appeal to a sophisticated audience. The films will offer the indie culture vibe absent from the University community since August 2013 when Vinegar Hill closed its doors.

Banowsky said Charlottesville is the ideal location for “a progressive market with a well-educated, well-read and affluent population.”

Aside from regularly showing more independent cinema, the theater will also be a main venue for the Virginia Film Festival. The theater will partner with the VFF committee to premiere special showings year-round.

“Our primary mission is to bring quality films to Charlottesville and to do so in an environment that supports the films we show,” Banowsky said.

Students seem to share this enthusiasm for the renovation.

“Vinegar Hill was such a unique venue and I know a lot of people were sad that it closed,” said Student Arts Committee Chair Stephanie Lebolt, a fourth-year College student. “As a college student, I’m usually hesitant to spend the time and money to go the movie theater when there is so much I can watch online and on Netflix. But a theater that offers unique and quirky films is something I’d make time to go to. I think independent films are so important to this country, and I’m really glad to hear Charlottesville is renewing that commitment.”

Published March 3, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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