YBOR CITY, Florida. The owners of a small cinema in Ybor City hope to attract moviegoers from across the bay to their 38-seat theater.
What do you need to know
- The owners of Screen Door, a small cinema in Ybor City, hope to attract moviegoers from across the bay to their 38-seat cinema.
- The Microcinema House will soon receive donated seats from Los Angeles, increasing capacity to approximately 55 seats.
- Right now, theaters are showing a different movie every Thursday through Sunday night.
A film for movie buffs like Warren Cockerham is an experience like no other.
“The tactility of it, if it breaks, you know, it’s all part of it for me,” he said.
Cockerham is a film and media production coordinator and professor at the University of Tampa.
He says he has loved cinema and filmmaking all his life.
“I never really turned down that,” Cockerham said. “I always kept making films and kept showing films.”
But when he lives outside of big movie centers like New York and Los Angeles, some obscure films he loves, or ones that aren’t big box office hits, rarely make it to places like the Bay Area.
Cockerham said it was because of reality that he and his partners, Sean O’Brien and Ann-Eliza Taylor, had the idea to change that.
“They don’t see it anywhere else, and it’s very bad,” he said.
Just as life finds an outlet in Jurassic Park, Cockerham and his partners have found a way to turn a small space in Ybor City into a premier microcinema called Screen Door.
It now only has 38 seats, but according to Cockerham, projection and sound quality are among the best.
He says that means they can show both popular films and classics from a bygone era.
“They gave us a blank slate and said we could do whatever we wanted with it,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he had long dreamed of opening the screen door and finally got the chance to welcome guests over Halloween weekend to watch classic horror movies.
He said he never imagined being on the opposite side of a popcorn and drinks stand, even if that stand is currently in a closet.
“It’s one of those things where I’ve always been a big movie fan, but actually I work in theater now, but it’s great that this is my theatre,” O’Brien said.
But it doesn’t look like movie theaters are booming economically right now.
O’Brien says that even with the challenges cinemas are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, their approach to niche films — along with collaborating with local music and film artists to showcase their work in their space — makes them think they have a viable product that could last a while in Ybor City.
“We’re just going to be a community theater that actually serves the entire community,” he said.
That’s why when the previews start and O’Brien can stand at the back of the room and Cockerham controls the projector, they can’t help but feel like they’ve achieved just that.
“I think if there’s a community around it, then there’s a reason we need to exist,” Cockerham said.
Screen Door will soon receive donated seats from Los Angeles, which will increase capacity to around 55 seats.
There are screenings right now that show a different movie every Thursday to Sunday night.