Houston now down to one indie venue

Indie film fans in Houston have been dealt a crushing blow. People looking to catch a movie at the Angelika theater on Sunday found that the doors were locked, and a notice on the door said that the theater’s lease had been terminated.

The question remains: Why did no one say anything? The Angelika was one of only two theaters in Houston dedicated to showing independent and foreign films, and they did it with class and style. True, River Oaks Theatre shows indie movies, but it has only three screens and its location is nowhere near as convenient as that of the Angelika.

According to an article by the Houston Chronicle on Aug. 30, no one knew that the Angelika was in danger of closing their doors; many patrons drove from as far as Beaumont, only to be turned away from the box office.

The theater closing its doors without a single warning is really disheartening for anyone who doesn’t want to see Hollywood’s (mostly) bland offerings. And it raises another question: If the Angelika, a theater that has been open for more than a decade — 13 years, to be precise — can simply close its doors one day without any provocation, what does that say about the strength of the other indie theaters? River Oaks came within inches of being demolished in 2006, and it took months of protesting and picket lines to get the developer who owns the land to change their mind.

There is a small glimmer of hope, though. It seems that Angelika Film Center, the company in charge of Angelika theaters in Dallas, Plano and New York City has already started to look for a new location in Houston. There is also a lawsuit already taking place between the landlord of Bayou Place (the Angelika’s previous location) and the theater owners.

As for now, however, film lovers will just have to cope with their loss — and let the Angelika know that they will not stand idly by while Houston’s film culture becomes standardized.

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