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Friday, March 28, 2014

No, the Mission Theater Isn't Going First Run—But It Is Turning Back into a Movie Theater

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

There've been rumors around town that McMenamins' Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan)—which used to be a church before it became Oregon's first theater pub, showing second-run movies in addition to hosting live performances—is becoming a first-run theater. This would make sense, following McMenamins' recent renovation of the Bagdad Theater, which transformed that venue from a second-run theater into a first-run theater. But the rumors aren't quite true.

"The Mission is going to get an upgrade," says Lars Raleigh, McMenamins chief operations officer. "We already have digital projection, but we are upgrading sound, screen size, and seating." (That's good news; the Mission is a great, unique space, but as a place to watch movies in, always feels slightly awkward.) Raleigh adds that the current plan for the Mission is to shift away from its current use as "a rental and special event space" and toward a full-time movie theater, with expectations that the programming will consist of "mostly second-run" films.

(This booking change explains why Back Fence PDX, formerly housed at the Mission, is shifting to the Hollywood Theatre [4122 NE Sandy] for future events. The Hollywood, while continuing to focus on movies both old and new, has begun branching out more and more into performance events.)

Noting that the Bagdad's renovation has been "well received," Raleigh explains that bar/restaurant/theater/hotel chain McMenamins is taking a second look at all of its theaters. "We are upgrading all of our theaters as we can," he says. "We will bring the movies back to [Forest Grove's] Grand Lodge. There may be some programming changes at our other theaters as we look at our first-run options." One theater that will stay the same, though, is the Kennedy School: "We looked at doing first run at Kennedy, but that place does well with current format and we like the flexibility that the current format offers."

Raleigh also noted that Greg Wood—the owner of the Roseway Theater (7229 NE Sandy), and one of the people responsible for the Bagdad's renovation—will continue to work with McMenamins when it comes to programming their theaters.

Current plans are for the Mission to kick back into gear as a full-time, second-run movie theater in mid-May or early June.

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