the saga continues

River Oaks Theatre's saga ends as ownership announces imminent shutter

River Oaks Theatre's saga ends as ownership announces imminent shutter

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The fate of the cinema still hangs in the balance as talks continue. Photo courtesy of River Oaks Theatre

UPDATE — March 19; 1:20 pm: A spokesperson for Landmark Theatres tells CultureMap that after lengthy negotiations, no deal was reached, leaving Landmark "no choice but to vacate." This headline has been updating to reflect the news.

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The end is drawing near for Houston’s most beloved cinematic landmark. The River Oaks Theatre is set to close on March 31 due to unpaid lease obligations caused by the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, as CultureMap previously reported.

But now, though talks initially had stalled, a spokesperson for Landmark Theatres, which owns the River Oaks Theatre, confirms that both sides are actively negotiating to keep the cherished theater open.

Landmark released the following statement late March 18:

After many months of waiting for a response, negotiations are underway. We are making progress, however, Weingarten insists that during a substantial period of the extension term that Landmark pay the same rent prior to the pandemic.

The pre-covid rent reflects a different world that does not address the realities of today or the foreseeable future.
Landmark has also offered to pay an additional percentage rent to allow Weingarten to come close to the pre-covid rent.

We are hopeful Weingarten accepts our most recent offer otherwise we have no choice but to close next week.

Meanwhile, Weingarten offered this statement to CultureMap:

Weingarten Realty has been in communication with Landmark over the past couple of days. We have offered to forgive the rent past due during the time the theater was forced to close and we are willing to work out a 24 month repayment plan for the balance. We look forward to their response.

Thus, the fate of a beloved filmic institution — which dates back to 1939 and is the site of Saturday Rocky Horror Show performances and myriad art and international screenings — is still a cliffhanger.

CultureMap will update this story as it develops.