Bad Breakup at Bayou Place: Behind the Scenes of the Angelika Drama

The high-stakes leasing drama that culminated in Sunday’s sudden early-morning shuttering of the Angelika Film Center at Bayou Place Downtown included some familiar plot elements: the wandering eye, the unwillingness to commit, the threats of retaliation, the uh . . . 30-day notice to terminate. Andrew Dansby and Nancy Sarnoff track the courtroom scenes:

Angelika’s landlord, Bayou Place Limited Partnership, filed suit more than a week ago claiming the cinema was threatening to remove equipment from the theater if it did not receive a new lease.

The landlord’s petition outlines a situation dating to 2007, when the theater’s first 10-year lease expired. It did not exercise an option to renew for another 10 years.

The Angelika – also called Bayou Cinemas in the petition – continued as a month-to-month tenant at reduce rent, according to the petition.

Bayou Place and the Angelika continued discussions on a new lease, even as the landlord, an affiliate of the Cordish Co., sought a tenant that would enter into a long-term lease for a cinema.

But during a meeting, according to the petition, a principal of Bayou Cinemas threatened to remove equipment if the parties couldn’t reach a deal. Based on the initial lease agreement, the property belongs to the landlord, the petition claims.

The theater’s lawyer has filed a general denial of the allegations in the suit.

And oh, the broken promises: Angelika says the company had received official notice ending its month-to-month tenancy as of September 18th; Bayou Place’s general manager says Angelika changed its mind about committing to something longer term. How will it all end?


Well, first stop for the lawsuit is an attempt at arbitration. But it looks like both sides want to end up with new partners: An Angelika rep says the company is already actively looking for a new Houston location. And Bayou Place is ready to rebound with another entertainer type, according to the West U Examiner‘s Michael Reed:

Gary Rhodes, general manager of Bayou Place Limited Partnership, which oversees the property, told the Examiner on Monday, leases for other potential tenants are already being being developed.

He said the the venue will remain “entertainment-oriented,” but would not comment on whether a new movie theater might replace the Angelika.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

16 Comment

  • Wilshire Village Pt. 2?

    If Angelika is planning to stay in Houston, then I don’t see much of a problem. Leave the horrible place they are in now and move to a better location.

    A movie theatre can’t make the money at the same level as the other tenants to justify paying the rent.

  • Angelica at Alabama Theater? hmmmmmmmm

  • I like that idea, or the tower, but that’s to be a restaurant soon enough..

  • The Angelika Theaters in Dallas and Plano are both in mixed-use developments. The most similar developments we have in Houston are West Ave. and the Pavilions. If they want to stay downtown, the Pavilions would probably work pretty well for them. (Although, I still haven’t figured out just where the Pavilions expects you to park. I usually find street parking nearby.) I’m afraid a theater at West Ave. might suffer from some of the same parking frustrations as the Edward’s on Weslayan.

    Of course, this is all assuming that either West Ave. or the Pavilions have a space available that would work as a cinema.

  • I’m sure that the city’s preservationists have their fingers collectively crossed. …but I think that Ainbinder ought to solicit them (if only just to piss of the squares).

  • Wouldn’t it be great if…

    the Angelika could move to the proposed Heights Walmart location?

    the Alamo Drafthouse could move into the old Angelika?

    Walmart could move into the Astrodome?

    Ahhhhh, wishful thinking.

  • Wishful thinking and dreams don’t run the real world….

  • …buzzkill

  • Anybody surprised by this doesn’t go to Angelika. it’s been evident for a number of months that there’s a tenant/landlord problem. Broken air conditioning/heat; screen not operating (whatever that means); etc. Several months back, we walked up to the window to learn that the film advertised in the paper and promoted on the MARQUEE was no longer showing . . .

  • Whatever happened to the space that housed the Greenway 3 theaters. I always liked that place… smuggled beer and home made popcorn.

    And the shadow government runs the real world.

  • Please save the Angelika Film Center.

    Please sign the petition.

  • Yes, you the landlord must agree to terms from a petition that will quite possibly cost you money to keep a movie theater that wasn’t making money in the old agreement open!

    I admit the Cordish people aren’t the best. Just look at the history at turning the old convention center into an entertainment venue. Not much to like with the financial side. The also ruined ventures in other cities.

    Angelika is a nice concept, but it needs to find a home where it can work. If they were located somewhere other than downtown, it might have done much better. I generally avoided going there just because it was a hassle.

    And a meaningless petition won’t change bottom line. It just makes some people feel good because they think they did something by signing it.

    Angelika might do much better in say Boulevard Place? Maybe even taking over Galleria III (it’s pretty much a wasteland now).

  • Why is the GIII so dead? No anchor stores anymore? Weird used to be bustling..

  • Yeah, whatever happened to the Greenway 3 space?

  • The Greenway 3 space is still there along with tons of other dead retail space under Greenway Plaza. Greenway is way too close to Edward’s for another theatre to explore leasing space there. Also the parking is over the river and through the woods at Greenway Plaza.

  • Believe it or not, the Greenway was fairly profitable, but so far as I could tell (I was a manager there and transferred weeks before it closed due to my Cassandra like powers–not with the company any more though) the landlord just decided to double the rent. The theatre wasn’t THAT profitable. They were also pushing out a few of the food court businesses. I would imagine the property owner had long term plans that did not include a movie theatre.

    Concessions are how a theatre makes money. They make next to nothing on ticket prices. So people that complain about theatres closing should really consider how well they supported those businesses.

    And the Angelika didn’t make money because the management there was piss poor. The projection was a continual disaster, and bills never got paid. It got so bad that some of the local projection repair technicians refused to go unless they were paid large advance retainers. So with bad projection, bad customer service, and general mismanagement, this wasn’t exactly a surprise to a lot of us familiar with the local scene.