‘Business as usual’ at Capitol Hill’s Harvard Exit

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

There’s a faint smattering of applause as Spike Jonze’s name appears on the closing credits following the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Her.”

The lights un-dim and much of the half-full theater rises to its feet. A few people remain seated and chat, while others pass under the decade’s old balcony into the 1920s waiting room with a flickering electric fireplace. An usher bids a simple adieu and the the night is over.

While there is certainly no grand difference in the above-mentioned movie experience compared to most others, catching a flick at Harvard Exit will never be mistaken for stadium seating at a Marcus theater.

If someone asks if you saw Her, the answer will be, “yeah,” “no” or, “yeah, we watched it at Harvard Exit” — the neighborhood’s sole remaining chain theater since The Egyptian closed in June of last year.

“It’s vintage,” said Jeanne Heuving, a Wallingford resident who good-humoredly sat through a pair of echoing phone sex scenes with her mother.

As one of the first “art” theaters in Seattle, Harvard Exit primarily focuses on independent film and foreign language cinema.

Landmark Theatres, a art house chain, has operated the business since 1979 and Chris Principio, Landmark’s senior regional publicist, says it is “business as usual.”

Lauren Kleiman, director of publicity, says there is a “long-standing expectation” for strong art films on Capitol Hill and that the community has shown its support for the business since The Egyptian’s demise.

“It’s not that we wanted one to beget the other, but sometimes it is, thankfully, a response that people realize they need to support the local theaters,” Kleiman said.

Kleiman noted that Harvard Exit saw a “great run” with the movie “Her,” which she hopes will make a strong pairing with screenings of all of the Oscar nominated live action and animated short films, which began Friday.

Kleiman said the new construction on Capitol Hill has had no negative impact on the theater and that Landmark is “looking forward to continued success on Capitol Hill.”

As for the Egyptian, the iconic single-screen theatre will be one of the venues used during this year’s Seattle International Film Festival from May 15 – June 8, according to Jeff Keever, director of auxiliary services Seattle Central Community College. The long-term plans, though, remain unknown. Keever said there are still interested parties in the 99-year-old building and that the college is currently in “a negotiation phase,” but that, “it is a long process.” In October, CHS reported that there was one familiar bidder for the theater — SIFF.

The Harvard Exit is located at 807 E Roy. Tickets and more here.
Upcoming openings at Harvard Exit:
One Chance – tentatively scheduled to open March 21
The Lunchbox — opens March 28 or later
Jodorowsky’s Dune — opens April 11 or later

3 thoughts on “‘Business as usual’ at Capitol Hill’s Harvard Exit

  1. Such a lovely place. Every time I leave not only do I think about the movie just seen, I think about the experience of having seen it in such a beautiful, historic building.

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