By Nicholas Forgione
If 2020 were a disaster movie, an obvious cliche would be the end of a long-standing movie-house in America’s Beach City.
In fall of 2020, Revere’s Showcase Cinema de Lux — closed due to pandemic restrictions — announced that its doors would not reopen and that the property would change hands. While the area has other movie-houses, (including some owned by Showcase), the end of Revere’s Showcase is the end of an era.
From its location near Revere’s Northgate Shopping Center, on the border of Malden’s Ward 8 along Route 1, Showcase Cinema was the backdrop for, and part of, the stories of area residents for more than five decades.
The end of the Revere’s Showcase Cinema reflects the conflict between sentiment and practicality. Earlier this year, National Amusements Inc., the owner of Showcase Cinemas, reached an agreement with real estate firm NorthBridge Partners for the sale of the theater; the property will be leased to Amazon.
Jonathan, a former resident of Malden who worked at Showcase in the 1990s, recalls “lots of fun memories.” Jonathan concedes to being “saddened” at an emotional level. And, he is no fan of Amazon. But he concedes the space needs to be used.
“Ninety percent of the movies I saw as a kid were there,” says Richard. Though Richard has since left Malden, Showcase was still a part of his life. Shortly before the pandemic shut down the Showcase (and the rest of Massachusetts), Richard and his consort, Laura, attended a Bolshoi Ballet Ballet Company show, projected onto a screen at the Showcase. “It was the last thing that I saw in a movie theater,” Richard says.
Richard is reluctant to admit to an episode from his youth (that this reporter participated in). In late 1994, Richard and this reporter planned to see the (much hyped) Disney film “The Lion King.”
As we were standing in line, we noticed that tickets had sold out.
We improvised, and bought tickets to an R-rated movie (“City Hall”) that started at around the same time. En route to the viewing room, we took a wrong turn, and went to see “The Lion King.” Based on the number of people standing in the back, and sitting in the aisles, (in flagrant violation of fire codes), we were not the only grown-ups who “traded up” for the Disney movie.
Lloyd, a former resident of Malden, notes that “the circle of life is not just in nature, but in the business world.” When he was growing up in Ward 7, the Revere theater “was the only place to see a movie.”
However, not everyone is sorry to see the show end.
“Good riddance.” As local curmudgeon Chris sees it, the Showcase curtain call is comeuppance for years of exorbitant popcorn and ticket prices.
He also notes, “that place was nothing but trouble for the last 10 to 15 years.” Chris is also glad to see the end of the annual spring Revere carnival, held outdoors in the space that will be occupied in the future by an Amazon warehouse.
Even those who are happy to see the show end are mindful of why it is ending. “I’m sorry that it took a pandemic to do that,” said Chris. And those whose sorrow is rooted in nostalgia see the costs to people now. “I am sorry to see people losing their jobs,” laments Lloyd. “I am sorry that COVID killed it.”
Revere Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto sees both sides. In practical terms, Zambuto recognizes that Amazon will “generate a lot of revenue for the city.” But, he also recognizes that the cinema was “an institution” in Revere. “It is what it is.”
Last names in this story have been withheld at their requests. Nicholas Forgione has still not seen the movie “City Hall.”