For years, film buffs living in Fort Worth might have had to drive to Dallas to see independent films on a big screen. But soon those long drives will be a thing of the past.
The Citizen Theater would be the first arthouse theater in Fort Worth, Amy McNutt, owner and operator, said.
There were similar theaters in the past that screened independent films, but the owners were unable to sustain their business and eventually had to close up shop, she said.
One problem with Fort Worth’s previous arthouse theaters was location, McNutt said.
During the 1990s, the historic Ridglea Theater screened independent films, but soon stopped due to a lack of success.
The Citizen would be built on Magnolia Avenue, and McNutt said she could not think of a better spot for the theater.
“It’s a unique neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why I think it will work here.”
The theater’s location is important to its success, said Joan McGettigan, associate professor of film, television and digital media.
But it is just as important for the owners of the theater to find and cultivate a regular audience, she said.
“There’s an audience for these types of films,” McGettigan said. “If you go to the Modern Art Museum, you see they get a pretty good audience when they screen documentaries and independent films.”
McNutt said she has always had a flare for business. She is co-owner of Spiral Diner & Bakery, which opened in 2002 and is located on Magnolia.
The restaurant serves vegan food and has enjoyed critical and commercial success.
Because of the diner’s success, McNutt decided to pursue her other dream: owning and operating an arthouse theater here in Fort Worth.
The idea came to McNutt years ago when she was studying film at UCLA. She said she was exposed to a much more diverse selection of films there than in her native Texas and loved going to the many arthouse theaters in Los Angeles.
She said she knew she wanted to bring the same experience to film fans living in Fort Worth.
“Every city should have [an arthouse theater],” she said. “I learned a lot about culture through films.”
The Citizen will screen new independent films selected from film festivals in Texas and elsewhere, McNutt said. Some of these screenings would feature question-and-answer sessions with directors, actors and others involved with the film.
In addition, the theater would screen repertory films, which are films that have already been released and are no longer in theaters.
“One night, we might do a Charlie Chaplin double-feature, and the next night we might screen something like ‘The King’s Speech,’” McNutt said. “With over 100 years of film history, there’s a lot to choose from.”
Nathan esina, a senior film, television and digital media and writing double major, said he was excited for The Citizen to open.
The opportunity to see more independent films is important to the study of film, he said.
“[Independent films] are generally doing more interesting things with filmmaking than the ones we have consistent access to,” he said.
Construction on the twin-screen theater begins in spring 2012 and is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. McNutt said she would spare no expense on the projection and sound systems so that viewers could have the best experience possible.
“We really want to foster the filmmaking community, and we want to show that film is an art form,” McNutt said.