The Seattle International Film Festival announced Saturday that it will be revitalizing Lower Queen Anne’s historic Uptown Theater, which shuttered its doors back in November after its partent company AMC opted to close the old theater house rather than invest in updates.
SIFF plans to reopen the neighborhood theater in October, as it transitions out of its current location in McCaw Hall, in conjunction with the Grand Opening of its own new SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center. SIFF says the new space will provide the organization with increased seating capacity and three additional screens, which will allow it more flexibility for year-round programming.
When the Uptown Theater closed last fall, many in the community were heartbroken to see the longstanding neighborhood cinema house, originally opened in 1926, fall by the wayside. We reached out to SIFF to see if the organization had any interest or intention of taking over the newly vacated space. At the time SIFF representatives told us they were not in a position to take over the theater.
“It really is unfortunate that Uptown theater is closing. I used to go there many times and even when I was growing up so personally it’s a shame that it is closing,” SIFF representative Tod Steward wrote to Queen Anne View back in November. “Maybe Paul Allen or someone like him would finance it to stay open…just like what he did with Cinerama.”
Fortunately for the Queen Anne community, the tides have changed since last fall. In addition to helping expand its year-round programming, SIFF says the reopening of the theater will give it the opportunity to establish first-class educational programs and solidify the future of the organizations and its programs.
Mayor Mike McGinn came out in support of the deal, stating, “SIFF is one of Seattle’s true treasures not only for the work they do in Film and Education, but for being a leader in our community and saving the Uptown Movie Theatre. The leadership that SIFF is demonstrating should not only be recognized but applauded.”
“On behalf of the Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce, we are especially pleased to endorse the acquisition of the Uptown Theater by the Seattle International Film Festival,” Chamber vice president Ann Pearce said in a statement. “We applaud their actions in preserving a valuable part of Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood and creating more opportunities for Queen Anne community businesses. Another wonderful forum for unique entertainment will now be available for residents and tourists alike to enjoy for years to come!”
“We couldn’t have scripted a better opportunity for our organization than to have SIFF Cinema Uptown and the new SIFF Film Center in such close proximity and located in such a vibrant part of the city. Seattle Center and Queen Anne are the perfect locations for us to expand in and we’re excited to be opening our doors in time for Seattle Center’s ‘Next 50’ celebration next year,” SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence said.
“We are thrilled to welcome SIFF as a new resident here, and we embrace its move to use the former Uptown Theater space as a SIFF screening venue. What a wonderful means to enlivening the neighborhood and further connecting Seattle Center to the Uptown area,” Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams said.