Cinema of the City: The Manor Theatre
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 23:09
This is the first in the series of stories about movie theaters of Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas.
Many indie and lesser-known films get lost because they aren’t shown at main stream movie theaters. The Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill, luckily, gives these films a place to play.
The Manor Theatre has four theatres and is currently playing five movies: the Master, Arbitrage, Trouble with the Curve, Robot and Frank and Beasts of the Southern Wild. The theater has an interesting process of choosing their films.
“We have a booker in Los Angeles named Jeffrey Jacobs and he attends these films and passes his ideas along. [Owner] Rick Stern has the final say,” said Geoff Sanderson, general manager of the theater.
The Manor Theatre, located at 1729 Murray Ave., has been around for nearly 100 years, celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, according to Julia Johnson, shift manager at the theater.
In preparation for the 90th anniversary, the theatre underwent a renovation that started in March and held a grand re-opening May 24th. The renovations created an atmosphere of a lounge. The lobby has tables and couches where people can sit and discuss films. The concession stand is up against the wall with everything to offer from popcorn to chicken tenders. The ceiling has a chandelier hanging in the center which was modeled from the original, according to Johnson. The focal point is a 1920’s-esque bar that was also installed. It has the ambiance of an old Hollywood film, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Casablanca.
To add to the ambiance, they play an eclectic collection of music.
“We use Pandora. All of the managers choose different stations,” Sanderson said.
The music genres range from slow indie music to soul.
“I think soul music is the best for this atmosphere” Johnson said.
The film variety brings patrons of all ages to the theater.
“During the week, usually senior citizens come in,” Sanderson said. “On the weekdays, it is usually people from the community. During the weekend it is more of a different crowd. The weekend crowd is usually in their twenties. Also, the new bar has attracted a younger audience.”
Johnson agrees that the theater attracts a wide array of adults.
“I have never seen anyone under 16 years old come into the theatre. It is definitely an adult-oriented theatre,” Johnson said.
Gerry Farbman, 81 of Pittsburgh, went to see Arbitrage on Monday afternoon.
“I like this place because it shows films that are not shown at other theatres,” Farbman said. “I have been coming here for 20-some years.”
Both Johnson and Sanderson enjoy the theater and their jobs.
“I really like movies. I get to see free movies. Also, I like Theatres and the atmosphere they give and I love hearing people talking about the movies they just saw,” said Sanderson.
Johnson has a similar sentiment.
“I love-love-love movies. I am a book work and a movie buff. I love sitting around and talking about movies all day” said Johnson.
The theatre hosts many different events, like [tell us about other past ones]. This weekend, author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky will hold a Q&A before a screening of the film at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Sanderson also has other events in the works.
“Besides the Q&A, I am pulling together a Halloween Horror film event,” Sanderson said. “Every Saturday, in the month of October at midnight I want to show a horror movie. It is not set in stone, but I am planning on showing Rosemary’s Baby, the Exorcist, and the Night of the Living Dead,”
The theater’s slogan is more than fit. “Where the Good Movies Play.”