The small theater shows niche movies for movie lovers in Tampa | Jobi Cool


YBOR CITY, Fla. – The owners of a small movie house in Ybor City are hoping to bring movie lovers from around the Bay Area to their 38-seat theater.


What you need to know

  • The owners of Screen Door, a small movie house in Ybor City, are hoping to bring movie lovers from around the Bay Area to their 38-seat theater.
  • Microcinema House will soon receive donated seats from Los Angeles which will increase the capacity to around 55 seats.
  • Now, every night from Thursday to Sunday, a different movie is being shown in the cinema hall

For cinema buffs like Warren Cockerham, a moving film reel is like no other.

“The efficiency of it, if it breaks, you know, all those things to me are part of it,” he said.

Cockerham is an associate professor of film and media production at the University of Tampa.

He said that he loved movies and movie making all his life.

“I never really gave up on it,” Cockerham said. “I was always shooting films and showing films.”

But living outside of big movie hubs like New York and Los Angeles, some of the more obscure films he likes, or movies that aren’t major box office hits, rarely make it to places like the Bay Area for screenings.

Cockerham said the reality was that he and his partners, Sean O’Brien and Ann-Eliza Taylor, considered changing it.

“They can’t see it anywhere and it’s too bad,” he said.

Just as life finds its way into Jurassic Park, Cockerham and his partners found a way to take a small space in Ybor City and transform it into a premier microcinema home called Screen Door.

Right now, it only has 38 seats but, according to Cockerham, the projection and audio quality are some of the best around.

He says this means they can screen classics from popular movies from a bygone era.

“They gave us a blank slate and said we’re good to do whatever we want with it,” O’Brien said.

According to O’Brien, he’s long dreamed of opening Screen Door and finally got the chance to welcome guests to watch some classic horror movies on Halloween weekend.

He said he never imagined he would be on the opposite side of a concession stand selling popcorn and drinks, even though the stand currently occupies a room.

“It’s one of those things where I’ve always been a big movie fan, but actually working in theater now, but it’s nice that this is my theater,” O’Brien said.

But now it is not like cinema halls are flourishing financially.

Despite the struggles theaters are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Brien says their approach to niche films — as well as collaborating with local music and film artists to showcase their work at their venues — makes them think they have a viable product. May stay in Ybor City for a while.

“We’re just going to be a community theater that really caters to the whole community,” he said.

So, when previews begin and O’Brien is able to turn on the projector at the back of the theater and stand with Cockerham, they can’t help but feel like they’ve accomplished that.

“I think if there’s a community around it then there’s a reason we exist,” Cockerham said.

Screen Door will soon be receiving donated seats from Los Angeles which will increase the capacity to approximately 55 seats.

Now, there are screenings showing a different movie every night from Thursday to Sunday.



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