Miami Beach is about to get a piece of the city's thriving indie cinema scene. The award-winning O Cinema will open a third location in North Beach this fall.
The third art-house, community-focused cinema was approved unanimously this morning by the city of Miami Beach mayor and city commissioners, who voted for O to take over management of the Byron Carlyle Theater. O Cinema's Kareem Tabsch told New Times the city's quick work on the process was a pleasant surprise.
"We've been in discussion with the city of Miami Beach for a few months now," Tabsch said. "It's a theater we've always loved, I have to say. The current administration and staff work really well; the support and dedication has been outstanding. I didn't think it would happen this quickly."
The Byron Carlyle Theater first opened as a movie theater in 1968. When the theater closed in 2001 it was purchased and renovated by the city. Over the last decade it operated primarily as a rental venue and live-theater space for a variety of arts groups, most recently Broward's Stage Door Theatre. Tabsch is thrilled O gets to take part renewing arts and culture in the area.
"What I'm most excited about is bringing movies to the neighborhood," Tabsch said. "North Beach is a wonderful part of the city, full of wonderful restaurants, really walkable streets; there's always something going on. There's such new focus on revitalizing North Beach. To be part of that is terribly exciting."
Revamped in the early 2000s, the Bryon retains 35mm film projection from the old days, meaning the only real renovation O Cinema must contribute is digital projection. Located a few blocks off Collins Avenue on 71st Street, between Byron and Carlyle Avenues, the Byron Carlyle Theater will be rebranded as O Cinema Miami Beach and operate seven days a week on a year-round basis. The theater is a single-screen auditorium with seating for 304 moviegoers.
"It's a great space," Tabsch said. "It's 300 feet, two levels. It's a great, old, beautiful theater that's been underutilized for over a decade. To be able to inject it with new life is going to be great for the neighborhood."
Tabsch says O Cinema Miami Beach will follow the path of the Wynwood and Miami Shores locations, bringing in films that should be seen by Miami audiences and programming films based on community response.
"North Beach is one of the largest populations of the Argentinean community in Miami, the largest Brazilian community are located within that area, so I'm sure that is going to inform some of our programming. There's so many wonderful films that are coming from Argentina, Brazil, all of Latin America, that I think are undershown in the city.. It's going to be a little bit of everything. What people tell us they want to see is what we'll be bringing them."
O Cinema Miami Beach has will open sometime this fall. The Byron is "in glorious shape" inside from its previous restoration, Tabsch says, so installing digital projection is the next task in the takeover.
"We'll be announcing some films very, very soon," he said. "We have some major retrospectives in the works that will be happening there. There's a lot of exciting things happening in this space. People who want to find out more when we open should visit our Facebook page and join our email list to keep updated."
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Miami Beach is already home to one art-house cinema, Miami Beach Cinematheque, located in the former city hall building in South Beach.
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