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Small space, big ambition: Ogden’s Art House Cinema 502

OGDEN, Utah – Independent and foreign films have found their niche in northern Utah, even if it is a small one.

Art House Cinema 502, located at 158 25th Street in Ogden, takes its name from its number of square feet. The lobby is about the size of a suburban bathroom and the theater itself is..well, cozy. Movie-goers can choose from one of 26 seats staggered throughout the long narrow space and there’s room for a wheelchair as well.

What the location lacks in size, it makes up for in substance. The seats are vintage, but still comfortable, adding an instant sense of history to a place that’s only been in business about a year. The screen is certainly smaller than what you’d see at a megaplex, but surround sound helps to enhance the experience.

Art House Cinema 502 screens three films daily, with show times reliably staggered at 5, 7, and 9 p.m., with a 3 p.m. show added on weekends. Attendance fluctuates largely upon what’s playing. Screenings of “We Need to Talk About Kevin” were sell-outs, while other, lesser known titles sometimes struggle to draw an audience.

John and Julie Price of Huntsville took in “Family Portrait in Black and White” on a recent Friday night. They were the only ones in the theater.

“We had it all to ourselves,” Julie said. “We just loved it.”

They were thrilled with their “non-Hollywood” experience, along with its unique presentation and price.

“The admission is whatever you think it would be worth. You pay whatever you think, including the beverages and popcorn.” they commented.

Theater owners are trying the pricing tactic as an experiment, putting financial faith in film lovers.

Another option to satisfy customers (and to bring in revenue) is to rent the space. For a fee, individuals, groups or families can rent the theater for blocks of time to see their favorite films or even home movies in the intimate setting.

Ogden has a multi-screen, stadium-style theatre just a few blocks to the north to serve the masses. But those seeking a more “Uniquely Utah” adventure will appreciate the small cinema on 25th Street, where it blends in beautifully with its eclectic neighboring businesses.

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