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Inside the Icon: Ken Cinema

The city’s last remaining single-screen theater has been a landmark for old-school movie glamour, classic flicks, and Rocky Horror fun


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Photo by Paul Body

Visit the Icon

Ken Cinema
4061 Adams Avenue, Kensington

Open Sesame

The family-owned building was constructed in 1947 to bring quality foreign films to the city. It now also screens indie movies and restored classics. This month, look for Labyrinth on March 10, Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 Romeo and Juliet on March 12, and Reservoir Dogs on March 15.

 

Midnight Masses

The Ken is famous for its midnight Saturday screenings of cult favorites like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Room (this month on March 18 and 11, respectively), and other offbeat events, like a Sound of Music sing-along. Not a night owl? Some films replay on Sunday mornings.

 

New Lease on Life

In 2014 the theater seemed ready to shutter after a new deal with Landmark Theatres—which has operated the Ken since 1975—seemed unlikely. Fans took to social media to voice their fear of losing the community institution. Ultimately, the Ken renegotiated an agreement and when the lease was renewed, the theater played a weekend of classics to celebrate, including Singin’ in the Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

Celebrity Status

Val Kilmer appeared at the Ken in December to promote Citizen Twain, while Tommy Wiseau from The Room visited in January and hosted a post-screening Q&A.

 

Room with a View

The theater once had a soundproof crying room with its own speakers for parents with fussy children, and a viewing room that allowed smokers to puff away while watching the flick through a window.

 

A Showstopper

Anyone can rent the marquee during non-operational hours. In 2008, Anthony La Rue proposed to his then-girlfriend Shannon Turner via marquee, which read, “Shannon Will You Marry Me.” Patrons noticed the unique signage and were itching to know the answer. Before the 7 p.m. screening, the manager revealed, “She said ‘yes.’”

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