The historic Academy Theater in Montavilla, a neighborhood favorite since 2006, began operating as a “first-run” theater in March. The decision by owners Heyward Stewart, Julie Stewart and Ty Dupuis wasn’t reached lightly.
For many years the Academy Theater enjoyed a thriving following as one of the few remaining second-run theaters in Portland. Then COVID-19 hit and they were forced to be closed for more than a year. The pandemic also caused a seismic shift in the way movie studios began handling the release of new content.
First, major movie studios began distributing new releases through online streaming services, then last summer, they began releasing movies to theaters at the same time they made DVD and Video on Demand (VOD) releases available.
The latter meant that by the time content finally reached second-run theaters like the Academy, demand for the movies was nearly non-existent.
Even with a change in January when the studios agreed to begin waiting 45 days from the initial theatrical release before making content available on DVD and VOD, it was a move that was only helpful to first-run theaters.
Along with a shift to first-run offerings, the Academy Theater has raised ticket prices. The increase is just the third since they opened in 2006. Tickets for adults are now $9 and $6.50 for seniors and children. Matinee pricing is still being discussed.
Even with these changes, owner Hayward Stewart offers a reassuring message, saying, “Our wonderful staff, beautiful interior and great food and beverage offerings will remain the same.”
The owners are hopeful that the change will put the theater on track toward a more predictable and stable business model and allow them to take advantage of new trends in the theatrical release market.
Movie schedules and information can be found at academytheaterpdx.com or by calling 503.252.0500.