Giving film a new home

Board of trustees approves cinema renovation plans Friday

POSTED AT 10:43 PM ON Sep. 22, 2008 


The University Theater will get a new look next March when renovations start to transform the decades-old stage into a cinema.

“This will allow Indiana to become a world leader in film studies,” said IU trustee Patrick A. Shoulders.

The board of trustees approved the project Friday following discussion, including comments from IU President Michael McRobbie and retired film professor James Naremore.

The cinema has been a pet project of McRobbie’s since he came to IU, Shoulders said.

“In his inaugural address, President McRobbie announced that we would renovate the theater,” Shoulders said.

At the meeting Friday, McRobbie said film should be seen as great art, comparable to opera and literature, and should be supported in earnest by the University. The renovation will also prove beneficial for film studies courses, McRobbie said.

“There are great film collections at IU,” said Greg Waller, chair of the Department of Communication and Culture, who sees the project as long overdue. “There’s no quality screening place on campus at all.”

The theater itself has not been used for shows in years.

“It’s fallen into disuse and disrepair,” Shoulders said. “It’ll be gorgeous again, chandeliers and all.”

Besides new seats, the new cinema will have the technology to play 16 and 35 mm film, as well as digital format, which Waller described as a major advantage.

“Anything international can be shown there,” he said, adding that a high-quality cinema will help not only IU, but Bloomington and the rest of southern Indiana as well. “It’ll be a great benefit.”

The University Theater is located in the old theatre building, between the IU Auditorium and the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center/Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on East Seventh Street and North Jordan Avenue.

“The plans are really for a cinema that will be probably as good as any cinema in the country, as any university in the country, as any museum in the country,” Waller said. “Plus, it’ll just be a beautiful space, anyway. It’s a beautiful theater that was built in the 1930s and it’s being renovated and updated at the same time.”


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