Chestertown Theater Looks to Open in August

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The facade of the former Chester Five movie theater awaits its new sign. The theater is projected to open under new management in August, more than a year after it closed.

Movie fans in Kent County will have to wait at least another month for the Chestertown theater to reopen.

Closed since June 2017, the theater attracted the interest of the Chesapeake Movies group last Fall. The Chestertown theater will be the first for Chesapeake Movies, though the principals have been active with Horizon Cinemas, which operates a number of theaters in the Baltimore area.

After negotiations with Silicato Development, which operates the Washington Square shopping center where the theater is located, the Chesapeake Movies group obtained a $75,000 economic development loan from the Kent County Commissioners. The Chestertown Mayor and Council agreed to repay the loan from proceeds of the town’s entertainment tax, which applies primarily to movie theaters. The town has received no revenues from the tax since the theater closed last year.

While the owners were at one point hoping to open by Memorial Day weekend, Mike Klein, one of the principals of Chesapeake Movies, said in a recent interview with the Spy that the opening is now expected to be in August. The renovation is, he said, is in process.  “We’re still cleaning the building out,” Klein said. “There was a lot left behind by the previous owner.” He said the new owners have taken out four dumpsters of material left behind, with more still to be removed. Among the items removed are the old seats, which Klein said were in poor condition and had to be destroyed. He said he had been contacted by one local theater interested in taking them if they were still usable, but “they were no good for anybody.” The old carpeting is also being replaced.

The theater is being completely rewired, with new digital projectors and sound equipment to be installed. Klein described the new equipment as “2018 technology.” “It’s going to be a nice community theater,” he said.

Among the renovations being planned is a complete upgrade of the theater’s heating and cooling systems, which is being paid for by Silicato Corp., the mall owner. The need to replace these systems was partly responsible for the renovations taking longer than originally planned, Klein said.

Also, the concession area is being completely renovated.  Offerings will depend on the kind of space available for preparation, but typical theater fare (popcorn, candy, etc.) may be expanded to include finger foods such as mini-pizza, chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks. The drinks will all be Coke products, Klein said.

The new owners are retaining the five-theater configuration. Not only does it reduce the amount of construction needed, it keeps the theaters at a reasonable size for the anticipated local audience. In fact, with the installation of higher-quality seats – including three rows of recliners – the overall capacity will be slightly reduced. Klein said the recliners take up twice the space of regular seats, so the three rows at the front of the auditorium will occupy the space of six rows of normal seats.

The film offerings will generally be first-run movies, but Klein said the owners would be open to offering art films or “marathons” of a popular star’s or director’s films. “I’m a movie guy, I love the old movies,” he said, adding that he was willing to “think outside the box” if there was enough community demand for something in addition to currently popular offerings. “Being an independent theater gives us the ability to do that,” he said. One option might be opening the theater for special showings during off-hours, such as before noon.

The owners haven’t settled on a price structure yet, but something in the neighborhood $6 to $8 a ticket is under consideration, Klein said. “We have to see what numbers we need to be profitable. We don’t want to charge what the big theaters charge.” Concession prices will also be in line with the local area, he said.

There will be a slightly higher price – “maybe a $2 upcharge” — for the reclining seats, which customers will be able to reserve in advance, either by phone or on the theater’s website. The rest of the theater will be general admission, Klein said.  There are likely to be lower prices for matinees, along with discounts for children, seniors or Washington College students – again, something like a $2 discount per ticket.

Klein said that Chesapeake Movies is trying, wherever possible, to use local contractors for all the work being done.  Klein said he could not say whether it would be early or late August for the opening but said he would keep us apprised of any progress or delays.

We look forward to the opening of the new theater.  Keep tuned for to the Spy for updates.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Horocofsky says:

    We can not wait for the opening, we will be there !!

  2. James Bogden says:

    How about showing the Harry Potter films during the festival in October?

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