More than a year after the Showcase Cinemas inside Kenwood Towne Centre closed suddenly (which was preceded by the unfortunate shuttering of the plush, old-school Kenwood Twin across the street back in 1995), the local movie landscape gets a shot in the arm with the opening of the Kenwood Theatre (7815 Kenwood Road) on Friday.
Located in an extensively renovated space where Henredon Furniture once sat, the new endeavor will be run by Theatre Management Corporation (TMC), the same outfit that operates the area's art-house spots, the Esquire and Mariemont theaters. According to TMC President Gary Goldman, the Kenwood will offer a similar mix of independent fare and mainstream Hollywood features across its nine screens, which range from 50 to 300 in seating capacity.
Sure enough, the theater's first crop of openings this Friday includes two documentaries (Cool It and Last Train Home) from small indie distributors; another gem from independently minded Sony Pictures Classics (Stephen Frears' Tamara Drewe); and the latest in the Harry Potter juggernaut (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I), which will occupy three screens. (The three remaining screens won't open until Nov. 24.) How the arrival of a third art-house outlet will impact TMC’s overall booking philosophy remains to be seen, but in an ideal world that means even more independent releases make their way to our midlevel Midwestern market.
Unlike its two TMC cousins, the Kenwood will offer beer, wine, margaritas and other alcoholic concoctions, all of which can be drunk while watching your movie of choice (and which will be a sweet complement to Gaspar Noe's head-tripping Enter the Void — if it opens here). The Kenwood will also serve up an impressive array of food and coffee drinks — from specialty baked goods to snazzy cappuccinos to sushi from Embers — all of which adds up to what seems like an unprecedented paradise for local movie lovers.
Though the Kenwood is officially open for business Friday, the Grand Opening Gala, which benefits the Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission, takes place 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The gala's $100 ticket price includes entrance to the Hollywood auction hosted by Nick Clooney, hors d'oeuvres, a seated dinner and drinks. To reserve a spot, which are dwindling quickly, call 513-784-1744.