Broadway Market Cinema, home to independent movies for the last 14 years, is going out of business. In about two months, after the vinyl screens have been disassembled and the movie seats auctioned off, Gold's Gym, which just penned a deal with the Broadway Market, will take over. Though it sucks to lose an independent movie house, the new gym, which could bring in over 1,000 people a day, might be a shot in the arm for the sluggish Market.

It's somewhat surprising that Broadway Market Cinema is closing. Just a few months ago, banners hung out in front of the ticket booths, celebrating the theater's "New Old Management." (In 2000, national indie chain Landmark/Seven Gables Corporation reacquired the cinema from bankrupt Silver Cinema. In 1996, Silver bought out Landmark.) But despite community affection and Landmark's renewed commitment, the theater simply didn't draw enough moviegoers, according to Madison Marquette Realty Services, Broadway Market's property manager. "Sales were down," says Cecile Cheung, marketing director at Madison Marquette, "and we needed a fresh start." Landmark wouldn't comment about sales specifics, but did say the theater's lease was a sticking point with Madison Marquette. Either way, a shiny new Gold's Gym is coming to Broadway.

The change may do the Market and the surrounding neighborhood some good. Both have struggled a little in the last year ["Broadway Hit," Amy Jenniges, Aug 16, 2001]. The KCTS Channel 9 store, which occupied one of the Market's biggest spaces, just left last month. "Our returns from that location didn't justify a long-term lease," says KCTS spokesperson Pat Mallinson. (In contrast, the downtown KCTS store does 40 percent more business than its Broadway counterpart.) But will a gym, in the middle of Broadway, surrounded by incense vendors, hip clothing stores, and street kids work? Obviously, Gold's Gym and Madison Marquette think so.

Mick McCulley, Gold's manager for the new Broadway location, is exactly what you would expect from a fitness staffer. He's huge, well-built, has bleached cropped hair, tanned skin, and wears a tight, bright yellow shirt and gold studs in each ear. Of course, he's extremely positive. "It's going to be great!" he says, clapping his hands enthusiastically. "We can't wait to get moving up on Capitol Hill!" McCulley is also in charge of Gold's new Convention Center location. (Gold's recently entered the "gym war" by buying World Gym). Up on Broadway, McCulley is starting "pre-sale," as he calls it. He'll be handing out flyers, meeting other Market tenants, shaking hands (firmly!), and smoothing the gym's Broadway entry. "It will be a very non-aggressive, customer-service-oriented, executive, organization!" he says excitedly. Market businesses have mixed emotions.

When The Stranger interviewed retail businesses in the Market, many had no idea that Broadway Market Cinema was even closing. "Really? When are they coming?" asked Jason, owner of the Candy King, a small candy cart. Urban Outfitters, the ultra-hip clothing store on the south side of the Market, was also surprised, and fears night sales will suffer. "Losing the theater will completely affect our evening walk-in traffic and fuck my bottom line," said UO manager Christopher Corwett. He also questions whether new gym members will even want to shop. "When I go to the gym, the last thing I think about is shopping. I just work out, and then I leave," Corwett says.

However, Gold's and its active, $30-a-month members may be just the kind of clientele businesses like Urban Outfitters, the Gravity Bar, and the new Cingular Wireless cell-phone stand need--assuming people will even want to work out in the Market. They didn't a few years ago.

In the mid-'90s, the Market had a gym called BQ Workout, and soon after there was another small aerobics studio. According to some tenants, both businesses bombed. Gold's will be different, says Cheung. "We think it will work. Capitol Hill needs a new place to congregate and go to after work," she says. "It was time for a change around here."