Oxford Theatre in Halifax to close Sept. 13 after 80 years

Oxford Theatre in Halifax to close Sept. 13 after 80 years

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The Oxford Theatre, a cinematic icon in Halifax for 80 years, is closing its doors.

The owner, Cineplex of Toronto, announced Thursday the building that houses the theatre located at the corner of Quinpool Road and Oxford Street has been sold to a local business owned by the Nahas family, Nanco Group.

The historic movie theatre will go dark on Sept. 13.

“It was certainly not an easy decision to make. We share the community’s love for the theatre and respect the role that it has played in the city’s history,” said Sarah Van Lange, a spokesperson for Cineplex.

The Oxford Theatre in 1957. (Nova Scotia Archives)

When the theatre opened in 1937, it was billed as a glamorous movie palace and cost 30 cents to see a film.

In recent years, the Oxford screened movies that might not be shown in multiplex cinemas, such as foreign and indie films, and developed a loyal audience.

It also reran classic films such as The Graduate, Gone With the Wind and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Just before the theatre’s 75th anniversary, then-owner Empire Company Ltd. invested in a makeover that included renovating the auditorium.

Interior Oxford Theatre in Halifax

Just before its 75th anniversary, then-owner Empire Company Ltd. reseated the interior of the Oxford Theatre. (CBC)

In 2013, Empire, the parent company of grocery giant Sobeys, sold 24 of its Atlantic Canadian theatres, including the Oxford, to Cineplex. 

“Back in 1937, when the Oxford first opened, single-screen theatres were the norm but today there are multiplex cinemas that provide guests with choice and more amenities and more enhanced movie options,” Van Lange said.

“A single-screen theatre and one that requires extensive renovations and the installation of new technologies, it just no longer makes sense.”

Special week of screenings

As a farewell, a special week of programming featuring screenings of iconic films that have played at the Oxford over its eight decades is planned.

The screenings will run Sept. 8-13. They will feature fan favourites like Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Wizard of Oz, E.T., Grease and Titanic.

Tickets to all screenings will be $4.99, with proceeds going to the IWK Foundation. Some of the screenings had already sold out by Thursday morning.

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