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New independent film theater to open in Charlotte, filling void left by Manor Theatre closing

The nonprofit community cinema plans to screen diverse, foreign, arthouse and independent films.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte will soon have a new theater where independent films will be shown. 

The Independent Picture House is hosting its grand opening on June 24.

The nonprofit community cinema plans to screen diverse, foreign, arthouse and independent films.

It’s located in NoDa at 4237 Raleigh St., but Brad Ritter, president of the Charlotte Film Society, said he hopes to see the area where the cinema is located develop into its own identity to become known as the Trailhead Arts District.

Inside the doors of the Independent Picture House, it has all the makings of a movie theater from the candy to the popcorn, but the stories that will be told on the screens will be unique.

Credit: WCNC

“Art houses tend to have a communal feel to them,” Ritter said. “They’re the type of films you want to watch and then, you know, go out in the lobby and talk to your neighbors and discuss them.”

The Independent Picture House has three theaters of varying sizes and plans to show five or six movies a week.

It plans to screen foreign and independent films, which have been missing from the big screens in Charlotte since the Manor Theatre closed amid the pandemic in 2020.

RELATED: Regal Manor Theatre to permanently close after 73 years

Jay Morong, creative director for the Charlotte Film Society and a senior lecturer of theatre and film at UNC Charlotte, said mainstream Hollywood big-budget movies tend to have a formulaic process to the storytelling. He said there’s nothing wrong with that, but he believes there is immense value in the individual stories told by independent filmmakers.

“Independent film matters because the stories matter,” Morong said. “The stories that those artists are telling about their experiences, about their ideas, about their thoughts, about their beliefs are important.”

Now, independent films will once again have an audience in Charlotte inside the Independent Picture House.

The Charlotte Film Society raised more than $600,000 to open the Independent Picture House through GoFundMe campaigns, seat campaigns, selling T-shirts, and more.

“The community really got behind what we’re trying to do,” Ritter said. “We take that as them saying we want this community nonprofit cinema in Charlotte.”

Credit: WCNC

The picture house pays homage to the cinema houses of Charlotte's past, with images on the walls and in the bathrooms. It is even giving a new home to the Manor Theatre’s popcorn machine at its concession stand.

The stories told by independent films are ready to unfold on the big screens at the picture house. Morong said he hopes people walk away from the films they see at the Independent Picture House and it stimulates a conversation, either within themselves or with other people.  

“Art has value to our lives, and it’s, you know, important to teaching us how to be human so I hope that stays with them,” Morong said.

Tickets for the Grand Opening on June 24 are now on sale.

Contact Kendall Morris at kmorris2@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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