In another welcoming sign of an uptick in the local leisure economy, two South Florida movie theaters that closed last March are reopening over Memorial Day weekend. The most famous of these, the Historic Gateway Theatre, had been a staple in East Fort Lauderdale for some seven decades, gaining notoriety in 1960 as the site of the world premiere of the locally shot comedy “Where the Boys Are.”
Over the decades, the four-screen theater maintained its independent and retro charm, while providing audiences an eclectic mix of mainstream fare and more radical art-house cinema. I can attest to this: No matter where I had been living in South Florida, I would travel the three counties to see movies at the Gateway: It was the only theater around to screen the director’s cut of “Blade Runner,” Gaspar Noe’s controversial shocker “Irreversible,” and Ingmar Bergman’s swan song “Saraband,” to name just a few.
That’s why it was so crushing to drive by that unchanged marquee for much of 2020, still advertising “The Way Back,” the Ben Affleck sports drama it opened the week of the pandemic lockdown. But like the mighty phoenix, the Gateway will return this weekend, now under the auspices of Gregory Von Hausch and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, which already operates the county’s two most prominent indie theaters: Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale and Cinema Paradiso in Hollywood.
If the opening weekend’s selections are any indication, moviegoers can expect a return to the classic Gateway variety: In addition to commercial favorites “A Quiet Place Part II” and Disney’s “Cruella,” the Gateway will open “Port Authority,” a drama about a 20-year-old Midwesterner who alights in New York City and falls in love with a trans woman of color; and the critically acclaimed Saudi Arabian drama “The Perfect Candidate,” about a young female doctor who inadvertently runs for office in her local election, only to potentially shatter an unbreakable glass ceiling.
Von Hausch has said that upgrades are on the way, including a remodeled lobby, bar and restrooms, new outdoor lighting and a “re-imagined” walkway.
Also opening this Friday is DB Cinemas, the former site of the Cinepolis Cinema in Deerfield Beach, in the plaza at Powerline and Hillsboro. A new website recently sprang up to promote the opening, though online ticketing is not up yet, and no details are available yet as to the slate of movies. But if the ticket prices are any clue—$6-$7 for matinees, and $8 for evening screenings—we already love it.