Piper's Alley Movie Theater to Close its Doors After 20 years

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on May 26, 2011 3:40PM

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The Piper's Alley facade incorporated pieces of the Louis Sullivan-designed Garrick Theatre.
Rumblings bubbling up on twitter this morning seem to be true, tonight may be the last time for you to catch a movie at Piper's Alley Theatre. 20 years after Sony signed the original lease in the then-new mall at North and Wells, the theater's four screens will showcase their familiar art house fare from their digs behind Second City for the last time, at least under the AMC-Loews name. After Loews closed the McClurg Court Cinema and merged with AMC soon afterwards, it had long been assumed that Piper's was on borrowed time.

Despite a perpetually moribund vibe and a space somewhat past its prime, Piper's Alley remained consistent as a centrally-located venue for independent, art house and foreign cinema that gets squeezed out of the bigger Loews-AMC locations. The theater's very last films slated are Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre at 7:10 pm, The Conspirator at 7:30 pm, the Ed Helms/Rob Courddry comedic vehicle Cedar Rapids at 7:35 pm and documentary I Am at 7:45 pm.

We've seen so many great movies at Piper's Alley that it's hard to pick a favorite memory from the place, but we'll never forget watching The Blair Witch Project there, if only for the zombie-like demeanor of the spooked crowd filing out down those elevators together. We'll miss the theater, and the city will miss having those screens, but we hold out hope that a new tenant might make a fresh start at the location.