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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Row House Cinemas saves historic Hollywood Theater in Dormont

The iconic Hollywood Theater in Dormont has recently been brought back to life by Row House Cinema in an attempt to save the historical building. This time, frequent cinema-goers are hopeful that Rowhouse will be able to keep Hollywood open for a long time by hosting fun events and reuniting the Hollywood community once more.

The Hollywood Theater, located on Potomac Avenue in Dormont, has had a tumultuous history with many owners. The single-screen theater has been opened and closed numerous times ever since it was established in 1926. The Theater Historical Society of America bought the theater in 2018 in an attempt to save the theater from potential demolition. After that, different owners took care of Hollywood, but it ended up closing in early 2023 without a warning or explanation. 

Now that Row House Cinemas has bought the theater, they hope to restore the theater to its original glory. People will relive the magic of independent theater once more, and for many years to come. Programming will continue at the theater in Dormont until the theater closes at the beginning of 2024 for renovations to update the theater while also preserving it for generations to come. 

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont will also be used to screen films and host special events. Their open house is scheduled for October 1. On October 21, the theater will be hosting a Hocus Pocus Halloween Party in the early afternoon, and a double feature later that night. Donnie Darko and Southland Tales: Cannes Cut will be shown with the director Richard Kelly present and a special performance by Rebekah Del Rio. Zombiefest will be concluding the events for October.  

The last surviving theater in Dormont has had an impact on moviegoers and the LGBT+ community for years. The Row House Cinema served as a temporary performing space for the Junior Chamber of Commerce Players, who host monthly shadow casts of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and a variety of other cult classic films. The JCCP had used the Hollywood Theater for many years before the theater’s unexpected closing. Longtime performer and current president of the JCCP Sam Basset described the theater as an internal and essential part of the group and its success since the group was founded in the 70s.

“Hollywood is like a second home for me and a clubhouse of sorts for the cast. It’s a place where we feel loved, accepted, and appreciated.” 

For many, including Bassett, Rocky Horror Picture Show was the first piece of media that provided closeted queer people a sense of belonging. The shadow casts have been a safe, inclusive space for the queer community and THE JCCP to find themselves and to be themselves. The Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast by the JCCP has been a tradition for RHPS fans in Pittsburgh, especially for Stephen Chbosky, the author of Perks of Being a Wallflower and the screenwriter and director of its movie adaptation. Rocky Horror is an important part of the book, so Chbosky decided to film the JCCP shadow cast performance in the Hollywood Theater in the movie. 

The JCCP will continue to host their mostly Rocky Horror Shadow Casts at Hollywood, two dates a month for the rest of the year. They are going to be performing alongside Patricia Quinn and Barry Bostwick, lead actors from the 1975 movie, in October as part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show 48th Anniversary Spectacular Tour. The group is also hosting a Rock Horror Convention in Pittsburgh later next year. 

Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville is not going anywhere anytime soon. It will continue to screen a series of films every week that coincide with a different theme, in addition to its signature events: Cereal Cinemas, Secret Cinemas, a cult film festival titled Cult-o-Rama, and their famous Japanese Film Festival. Events at Row House Theater – Lawrenceville and Row House – Hollywood are prone to sell out due to the excitement surrounding the re-opening of the theater. 

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