Progress at the Parkway

Like its former sibling the Cerrito Theater, Oakland’s Parkway Theater is making strides toward reopening in 2009. Potential new operator Motion Picture Heritage and Oakland’s Redevelopment Agency are still on board, said past and likely future Parkway programmer Will Viharo, and he’ll be meeting directly with the latter next week.

The biggest roadblock to a successful resolution, said Viharo, is the condition of the 85-year-old theater. A preliminary inspection revealed a number of issues that could be costly to repair, such as a roof that’s been leaking for years. While the city doesn’t typically provide subsidies to private businesses and is admittedly cash-strapped, perhaps the Parkway’s growing status as a city landmark and regional destination could help it garner support in that respect.

Either way, Viharo, who has close ties with MPH and has been serving as their local liaison, has high hopes for what they’ll bring to the theater should the deal go through. “The plan is to be back better than ever,” he said — and that means retaining much of what so charmed past guests. “If the doors open and we’ve got a couch and some beer, people will be happy.” Programming-wise, he hopes to make the Parkway a “cinephile destination,” meaning the movies alone should be good enough to bring people through the doors. A renovated theater with couches, beer, and great flicks: now that’s a Parkway we can get behind.


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