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Oaks Cinema to be renovated

Thursday, February 21, 2002

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

Three business owners from Oakmont have purchased the town's movie theater, the Oaks Cinema, and are planning renovations. But it will remain a single-screen theater featuring mostly second-run films, the theater's new manager says.

The Oaks, which opened in the 1940s, was acquired in early January by Meg L. Burkardt, Marc A. Serrao and Cynthia J. Yount. The previous owners were the Dhanani family of Monroeville.

"The three of us are friends," says Burkardt, an Oakmont lawyer. "We all grew up in the area, we went to the theater as kids. We were always sort of interested and we let the owner know. We were interested to see the theater remain as a theater" rather than be transformed into another type of business.

The first order of business is to restore the marquee and install a new concession area in the lobby.

The theater's new manager, Jared Earley, was a manager of the Harris Theater and also performed other duties for Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

He is booking more screenings at the theater than previously, including daily matinees. The current feature is "The Lord of the Rings." He is also scheduling late-night shows of more offbeat fare, such as Richard Linklater's animated feature "Waking Life."

"We're trying to get people in the city more aware of the theater," Earley says. For now, "We're just getting to know our patrons. We want to find out what people want to see, what they like or dislike. We're throwing the bait out there to see if people come for the late-night shows."

While he doesn't anticipate turning the theater into an art-film venue, he is planning second-run bookings of limited-release fare, including "Amelie" and "The Royal Tenenbaums."

The theater, at 310 Allegheny River Blvd., seats 412 people.

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