The University District’s historic Varsity Theatre, formerly part of the Landmark chain and currently closed, has a new operator: Far Away Entertainment, a small local chain (established in 1997) that currently runs eight neighborhood cinemas around the state, will take over as of January 1. Jeff Brein, managing partner of Far Away, said this morning that the plan was to re-open the theater by January 29, but that date was tentative. “We’ll be walking in the doors on Friday morning to see what we have, and we’ll go from there,” he said, noting that the company plans to install digital equipment, but to retain at least one 35mm projector.
The Varsity, operating as a movie theater since 1940, was originally a single-screen venue, but a 1980s expansion added two additional screens upstairs. Brein said decisions are still being made as to what kind of programming the reopened Varsity will feature, but said it would likely be a blend of current film, special cultural and arts events (such as the satellite programs often shown at the chain’s other theaters), “and then whatever might be appropriate for the university and the neighborhood audiences.”
Brein noted that the Varsity will be Far Away’s third historic cinema (the others are the Admiral in West Seattle and the Lynwood on Bainbridge Island), and he’s excited about the opportunity to keep it running. “We don’t want to lose any more historic theaters in Seattle,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun programming it.”