Cyrus I. Harvey '47, the founder of Janus Films who helped make movies respectable in Cambridge, is negotiating the sale of the Harvard Square and Central Square Theaters.
Harvey said yesterday that he hopes to complete a sales agreement with Fall River Theaters at the beginning of October. He said the prospective owner--which owns 13 other New England movie theaters including Boston's Exeter Theater--plans no change in the theaters' programming.
Harvey said he was selling the theaters so as to concentrate on Truc International, his Connecticut-based soap and toiletries business.
The sale will not include the Brattle Theater, Harvey's oldest theater and the one with the most distinctive movie fare--primarily old and foreign movies distributed by Janus, and a semi-annual Humphrey Bogart festival.
Fall River Theaters employees yesterday said they did not know whether a sale was imminent or not, although they said they had heard that negotiations are going on.
"If you know the dates and you've heard it will go through you know more about it than I do," Michael Sirota, manager of the Fall River chain's Allston Cinema, said last night.
"We got the Exeter on a Wednesday and I heard on the Monday," he added.
Sirota said he imagined Fall River would continue Harvey's programming policy--a combination of second-run films, prestigious premieres and revivals, and occasional festivals of Janus revivals.
"Both theaters are successful," Sirota explained. "Can you see any reason to change what is successful?"
Intermittent rumors have circulated for several years that the Harvard Square theater might be replaced by a more profitable business.
"For about ten years they've been projecting using the space better," Robert St. George '64, former manager of the four Harvey theaters, said last night. "There was talk of making it into two theaters, for example."
But St. George said such a plan would prove unfeasible. "The way the building's built, you pretty much either have to live with it or tear it down," he said, "and the state of the economy is such that no one is about to do that kind of work."
When Harvey and Bryant N. Halliday '49 opened the Brattle Theater as a movie house in 1953, it was one of the few small theaters playing foreign films and revivals in the country.
The two men later founded Janus Films, the American distributor for such directors as Jean Renoir and Ingmar Bergman, and probably the most important popularizer of old and foreign movies in the United States.
Although Harvey is no longer connected with Janus, his theaters continued to show many Janus movies. Harvey bought the Harvard Square theater in 1960.
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