I got word on Friday that this week will be the last week of operation for the Varsity II Theater in Ames. The Cinemark Corporation had been wanting to close the theater down for quite some time, but they were stuck in a lease. Unfortunately for fans of thoughtful, intelligent films, Cinemark was able to negotiate an early termination of their lease and will be closing down the Varsity forever on Thursday night.
This is a sad day. I know that frequently when I have attended movies at this theater there was little more than me and my companions there, but I think this theater could have made it. The Fleur Cinema in Des Moines seems to flourish showing similar movies to the Varsity and it doesn’t have the built in audience of Art, Independent, Foreign and Documentary Film fans that the Varsity’s close proximity to a major college campus gives them.
It never seemed like Cinemark was interested in making the Varsity work. I know from firsthand experience what it is like to run a business for a person that is doing everything they can possibly do to make that business fail. When it happened to me, it ended with a meeting where my staff and I were served burnt pretzels and burnt hot chocolate.
I hope, if nothing else, that the staff of the Varsity was given properly prepared food when their theater was lead to the chopping block.
I will remember fondly that I saw some of my all-time favorite films at the Varsity. It is the theater where I saw Once, Hustle and Flow, Born into Brothels, Young at Heart, Son of Rambow, Napoleon Dynamite, Fight Club, Insomnia, Akeelah and the Bee and The Queen.
Not everything I ever saw at the Varsity was great. Some movies were quite dreadful, but it was always interesting.
It might seem like losing two movie screens in Ames isn’t going to reduce the amount of movie options in Ames, by much. But when you look at the type of movies that will be lost, the amount of movie options in Ames just hit an all-time low.
I will be going to the Varsity for one last time on Monday night to say goodbye to an old friend.