Sitting on the corner of Belmont and 44th in Southeast Portland is my happy place. Movie Madness. Started in 1991 by Mike Clark, Movie Madness has been an ever growing cinema lover’s paradise. The sprawling shelves are jam packed with old VHS tapes, DVDs, and blu-rays, all intricately sorted into very specific genres and categories. The walls are lined with windows and those windows look in on small displays of movie memorabilia from all throughout the last century. You can see a set piece from Citizen Kane right next to one of the two prop knives used in making Psycho. A xenomorph’s head hangs near the bar of soap used to promote Fight Club. Autographed posters hang proudly and costume covered mannequins populate the place. It’s a little bit of everything, a place where everyone can find something. But this magical place is at risk.
It was odd to see an email this morning from Mike Clark. Movie Madness has had my email for years, but I don’t know the last time I heard from them. The ominous title “Save Movie Madness! A Message from Mike Clark” put me on edge immediately. Mike Clark is retiring.
Mike writes “Running this Portland landmark has been a labor of love, and it has been an honor and a privilege to share it with all of you. Now I’m ready to retire, and I need your help to ensure that my store’s legacy lives on – my goal is to see Movie Madness live forever!”
So how are people supposed to help? A kickstarter by the Hollywood Theatre. For those from outside of Portland, the Hollywood Theatre is “a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, inspire, educate and connect the community through the art of film, while preserving a historic Portland landmark.” Mike Clark has agreed to sell his collection for less than half of its estimated value, to make it a more feasible purchase for the Hollywood Theatre.
Should the kickstarter goal of $250,000 be reached (and it likely will—with 30 days to go they have already raised over $94,000), the Hollywood Theatre will acquire Movie Madness, retain its staff, and expand its services in the years to come.
From renting VCRs and bluray players to the addition of a private screening room, the Hollywood Theatre has a strong vision for the direction they want to take Movie Madness. A $90,000 grant to provide operating support has already been secured from The James F. and Marion L Miller Foundation. It seems all that is left is to buy the movies.
As the Portland representative on the Frightday staff, I can attest to the quality of Movie Madness. The beautiful marquee out front is a beacon in the city, an invitation to come and experience film, talk to a knowledgeable staff, and see the history of cinema live and in person through its museum. To see Movie Madness go would be a tragedy, a true loss of culture for the city and for cinema.
Please consider supporting the efforts to save Movie Madness by donating to their kickstarter. Below are some of the rewards available at various tiers.