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Harvard Square’s Loews Theater to close in July

‘RockyHorror’ ran for 28 years

ESSDRAS M SUAREZ/GLOBE STAFF

The theater drew in fans of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and hosted performances by some big names.

The AMC Loews Theater in Harvard Square, where fans of the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” have come to see their favorite film every week for 28 years, is closing, a spokesman said Thursday.

The closure would leave The Brattle Theatre, which shows cutting-edge, foreign, and art-house films, as the last movie theater in Harvard Square, said Denise Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

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Jillson said that because of its age and smaller size, the theater on Church Street doesn’t fit the mold of the more conventional, large movie theaters tthat are popular today.

A theater has been at the Church Street location since 1925.

She said the business association is excited about the possibilities of what could move into the space, but with AMC closing the theater, she doubts another movie theater would move in.

“If they choose not to be here, given the size of their company and the kind of resources they have, it’s unlikely that someone else would be able to do it effectively, unless you sort of change the concept completely,” Jillson said.

Sarah Burks, a preservation planner for the Cambridge Historical Commission, said the theater was built in 1925 as the University Theater with an entrance on Massachusetts Avenue.

Later the building was called the Harvard Square Theater and the marquee was moved to Church Street side of the building in 1982.

The theater housed performances by some of the biggest names in music in the 1970s, from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, to Iggy Pop and The Clash, according to Gavin Kleespies, the executive director of the Cambridge Historical Society.

Kleespies said a review by music critic Jon Landau of a Bruce Springsteen performance at the theater in 1974 helped launch the then relatively unknown rocker to national fame.

AMC has run the theater since the company purchased Loews in 2006, said AMC Theatres spokesman Ryan Noonan.

Noonan said in an e-mailed statement to the Globe on Thursday that the company has decided to sell the location, formally called the AMC Loews Harvard Square 5, and will close the theater at the end of business July 8.

“We continually strive to upgrade the quality of our theatre circuit by adding new screens and by disposing of older screens through closures and sales,” Noonan said.

The theater on Church Street has been the destination of costume-clad moviegoers for the past 28 years to see the midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” every Saturday.

Some fans of the film cross-dress as brides, while others don corsets and fishnets.

“It’s an event,” said John Geoffrian, a 40-year-old actor and director who lives in Cambridge. “It’s one of those cult things that keeps on going.”

The building falls within a Harvard Square conservation district, and as a result the Historical Commission would regulate any changes to the exterior of the building.

But the commission would not regulate the future use of the building, Burks said.

Ned Hinkle, the creative director at The Brattle Theatre, said he can remember seeing “Taxi Driver” at the theater on Church Street many years ago and said the theater has long been known for its double features.

Hinkle said the closing of the AMC theater, though sudden, does not come as a surprise, however.

“It’s been rumored on and off for years,” he said.

Geoffrian said that it is a shame that many of the older movie theaters are closing, and he described the theater on Church Street asa cultural institution.

“I think it’s a part of the family of the city,” Geoffrian said. “I hate to see it go.”

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.
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