In the throws of the latest winter chill comes a piece of news that warms our hearts. The historic River Oaks Theatre, which closed its curtains almost a full year ago, is coming back in action as an arthouse and independent showcase!
Built in 1939, the River Oaks Theatre was a go-to for movie buffs. Its traditional art-deco design and tasteful film selection, made it a community favorite among cinephiles. However, amid the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, including its mandated hiatus two years ago, its parent company Landmark Theatres struggled with property owners Weingarten Realty to come to terms on a rent agreement – all the way to the bitter end.
Since last March, the theatre has remained closed. On Wednesday, however, a new hope came with the announcement that Sugarland’s Star Cinema Grill would be using the cinema to screen arthouse and independent films.
“Give a big Houston welcome to River Oaks Theater, Inc., an affiliate of Star Cinema Grill, who will be operating the beloved and historic River Oaks Theatre,” River Oaks Shopping Center wrote in an Instagram post.
“They plan to preserve the theater’s history and Art Deco design, as well as its name, River Oaks Theater, while also enhancing the cinema experience with a focus on unmatched hospitality, high-quality food and beverages with a restaurant and bar inside, flawless presentation, and other cutting-edge theater amenities. We can’t wait to invite you to their opening later this year.”
As mentioned in the statement, the cinema plans to reopen later this year, although no specific date has been mentioned.
In celebration of the historic reprise of River Oaks, Mayor Sylvester Turner himself held a conference at the theatre:
“What a great day for the city of Houston,” Turner said. “The River Oaks Theater is open again and will be preserved for future generations.”
Star Cinema Grill operates eight modern multiplexes scattered about Houston’s suburbs. While typical program consists of the latest blockbuster hits – Marvel, Disney, etc. – Vice President of Development, Jason Ostrow, plans to retain the essence of River Oaks Theatre:
“Star Cinema Grill is more of the business side, and this will be more of the passion side.”
Star Cinema Grill CEO and President, Omar Khan – a local Houstonian – is said to have had a special affinity for the historical theater:
“The plan is to keep the soul of the theater,” he said.