Cinemagic’s Expanded Lobby Is Nearing Completion

The historic movie theater on Southeast Hawthorne took over a neighboring storefront and began incorporating it into its venue last year.

Cinemagic. (Michael Raines)

Last year, Cinemagic embarked on an ambitious project: take over a neighboring storefront in order to build an expanded lobby with seating for audiences looking to chill before and after screenings.

Since then, the project has faced setbacks, including burglars who broke into Cinemagic and stole tools and construction equipment. But today, the theater announced that the dream of the expanded lobby is finally on the precipice of becoming a reality.

“It’s close,” Nicholas Kuechler, who co-owns Cinemagic with Ryan Frakes, announced in the theater’s newsletter. “Very close. We still don’t have an exact date, but at this point it’s all about decorating the space and making it comfy.”

A bigger lobby might not sound like exciting news to non-cinephiles, but for more devout moviegoers (the kind Cinemagic regularly attracts), a space to hold long discussions about a film you’ve just seen without blocking the entrance or exit can be a godsend. (The expansion will also allow Cinemagic to add a dishwasher to cut back on single-use cups.)

Via GoFundMe, Cinemagic raised over $16,000 to fund the project. In addition to the burglary, the lobby expansion was delayed when a door to the new space turned out to be a 10-foot-wide window in front of a second wall, requiring the theater to enlist the aid of a structural engineer.

Ever since Frakes and Kuechler reopened Cinemagic in 2021, the theater’s programming has grown bolder and more diverse (a slate of staff picks screening this weekend includes Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Wild Zero, Brokeback Mountain and Once Upon a Time in the West).

“We’re trying to play toward our neighborhood crowd even stronger,” Frakes previously told WW. “The clientele’s taste…I would say they’re adventurous. They’re willing to try new movies, whether they’re really into movies or not.”

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.