The company that owns the Ritz at the Bourse movie theater complex at 400 Ranstead St. in Center City said the facility will close Jan. 31, and the final screenings will be Jan. 26.
“We regret to inform you that the Ritz at the Bourse is closing. Thank you for your continued patronage and we look forward to serving you at the Ritz East and the Ritz Five,” Cohen Media Group said in a statement issued Sunday. The company declined further comment.
The Old City theater, with its half-dozen screens, was opened by Ritz Theatre founder Ramon L. Posel in 1990. Ownership was transferred to Landmark Theatres in March 2007. The Landmark Theatres chain, including its three locations in Philadelphia, was sold to Cohen Media in December 2018. Landmark is co-owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who sold the chain for a reported sum of $70 million to $100 million.
Cohen Media acquired 56 Landmark theaters in 27 markets, including the Ritz Five, Ritz at the Bourse, and Ritz East. The Ritz location in Voorhees was sold to a separate entity.
Cohen Media was founded in 2008 by real estate developer Charles S. Cohen, who became a film producer. His work includes Frozen River, which garnered a 2009 best actress Oscar nomination for Melissa Leo and a number of nominations for her, and a few wins, for other awards; and The Salesman, which won the best foreign language film Oscar in 2016.
At the time of the acquisition, Cohen said, “I have been in the art house business for a long time as both a distributor and a producer, and I know better than most that these films need a special home and require the utmost care. Landmark is that home.”
Cohen purchased and renovated New York City’s Quad Cinema, but made few upgrades to his Philadelphia holdings, at a time when national chains like AMC and Regal were spending heavily to redo theaters, particularly in the Philadelphia market. Landmark had also been competing with the Philadelphia Film Society and its two facilities, the Philadelphia Film Center at Broad and Chestnut Streets and PFS Roxy Theater at 20th and Sansom Streets. AMC has also recently opened eight screens in the Fashion District, the former Gallery at Market East.
Independent distributors like Cohen have been hit hard by the rise in streaming services, which have competed in the independent art house space that draws people to theaters like the Ritz at the Bourse. In fact, when Cuban put Landmark up for sale, Netflix and Amazon were rumored to be among the interested parties. Netflix has purchased independent theaters in a few markets in order to give it more options for distribution — Netflix has frequently quarreled with major chains over its policy of mandating a limited theatrical run. Owning its own theaters gives it more flexibility.
Comcast plans to launch its Peacock streaming service this spring in hopes of luring cord-cutters.
There is no early word from Landmark about whether the Ritz at the Bourse is being marketed to potential distributors like Netflix. Netflix’s The Irishman is one of the seven titles currently playing there. Other titles are A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Pain and Glory, A Hidden Life, Honey Boy, The Lighthouse and What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael."
The Bourse was also home to Landmark’s “Midnight Madness” series — Friday midnight screenings of cult classics like The Room. There was no word on whether the series will be exported to the Ritz East or Ritz Five. And Sunday’s announcement did not indicate what would happen with the building.