Despite bankruptcy filing, show will go on at Prince

    As the Philadelphia Film Festival nears, one of its venues reckons with financial troubles. But festival director assures that 10 films will be screened at the Prince Theater.

    Just one week before the 19th annual Philadelphia Film Festival is set to begin, one of its theaters has filed for bankruptcy. For years, the Prince Theater on Chestnut Street has been fighting its mortgage lender to stave off foreclosure. But festival organizers vow the show will go on.

    TD Bank claims the Prince Theater is delinquent on mortgage payments. The theater owners claim they had arranged a payment plan with Commerce Bank. However, as the new owner of Commerce, TD Bank is not honoring that agreement.

    TD Bank has tried to foreclose on the theater four times. In the past, the theater has fought the bank with lender liability suits. Bankruptcy is its latest effort.

    The Philadelphia Film Society will screen movies at the Prince for 10 consecutive days beginning Oct. 15. Director Andrew Greenblatt says it’s nerve-wracking to have one of his venues in financial jeopardy. But even had there been a sheriff’s sale of the property, he says the festival would be in the clear.

    “I am committed to using the Prince as much as possible. The Prince is a wonderful venue. It has a great welcoming lobby with a cafe,” says Greenblatt. “A huge theater – 450 seats – which is something you don’t find in the city.”

    Prince director Marjorie Samoff says the threats of foreclosure have cramped her ability to generate revenue by hosting original theater productions.

    “It’s like being in a debtors’ prison,” says Samoff. “You have been deprived of your ability to generate income from contributed or earned sources. And then the bank is demanding $4 million right away. It’s not something that is soluble if you have no ability to generate income.”

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