Get Ready! Movie Theater Set to Open


The Chesapeake Movies at Washington Square is almost ready to open, with a planned starting date of Oct. 12

Chesapeake Movies is getting close to opening.

With new seats and larger screens, an expanded snack bar area, refurbished restrooms, and a menu of new first-run movies, the theater at Washington Square shopping center is aiming for an Oct. 12 grand opening. The theater has been closed for some 18 months and is now under new ownership and management.

Mike Klein, one of the principals of Chesapeake Movies, said the interior work on the theater is close to done, with new flooring and carpeting throughout and the new seats currently in the process of being installed. The major remaining hurdles include finishing the setup of concession areas and getting final approvals from the health department and other agencies.  If final installations and inspections go as expected, then next Friday, October 12, will be the grand opening.  Should any issues crop up, the opening will be moved to the next weekend, Oct 19.  Stay tuned to the Spy and the Chesapeake Movies website for any last-minute developments.

The theater’s website lists the first planned features as A Star Is Born (with Lady Gaga), Venom, First Man, Goosebumps 2, Halloween 2018 and Bohemian.

New, state-of-the-art digital projection equipment and JBL surround-sound speakers have now been installed in all five theaters.  The old film projectors are long-gone.  Movies now arrive on a computer hard drive that sits on a cart and takes up very little room and does not require the full-time attention of a projectionist.

The new power recliner in its upright position. Photo by Jane Jewell

The new screens are much larger–two and a half feet higher and five feet wider than the old ones, except in one theater (#5, farthest from the lobby) where ductwork prevented the placement of the bigger screen. New red and black wall coverings have been installed to improve both the appearance and the acoustics of the theaters. Movie-goers who remember the old Chester 5 theater will hardly recognize the place. With the state of the art speakers and larger screens, it will be a whole new movie experience.

Two kinds of seats are being installed in the five theaters. The three rows nearest the entrance will have powered recliner seats, which will cost $2 more than the regular seats – which are also new and completely upgraded. The layout of the theaters has been changed to eliminate the middle aisle, allowing for seating in the center of the room – the prime viewing area.  The new owners noted that many, if not most, theaters have only side-aisles so that these prime seats are not lost. Each of the five theaters will have 22 of the powered recliner seats in the back three rows and 36 rockers with cup holders in the general admission area up front for a total of just under 60 seats in each theater.

New rocker chairs are installed in the front three rows of each theater. Note new draped acoustic wall coverings and JBL speakers. Photo by Jane Jewell

General admission tickets will be $6 with the recliners an additional $2 for a recliner.  Movie-goers will be able to reserve recliners in advance from the website.  You can specify exactly which recliner you want – row and seat number just like a regular concert hall!  That way, you can arrive just before the show starts and be assured of having your favorite seat.  One of the new owners said that another theater that he works with has had their recliner section completely reserved for over two weeks in advance for this upcoming weekend. Only the recliners can be reserved. The three rows of general admission seating will remain first come, first served.

Mike Klein, one of the principals of Chesapeake Movies, tries out one of the new recliners. The chair is in its semi-reclined mode with leg-rest up.      Photo by Jane Jewell

The website, though up with basic information, is still under construction and it’s not ready (as of Friday, Oct 5) to take reservations.  Show times will not be posted until just before the opening date. But these online features will be available soon.

Special Senior (age 62 and up) and Child (age 12 and under) tickets will be available.

The expanded snack bar will feature a wider variety of food offerings, including pizza and chicken fingers. Two dining areas with low and high tables and chairs have been set up in the wide hallway outside the theaters, allowing movie-goers to finish eating in comfort before going into the show. This is also expected to improve the cleanliness of the theaters. And so that nobody misses the start of the film, TV monitors mounted outside each theater’s door will show the titles and starting times of the movies showing.

New concession area in the lobby. A staff member from the Washington College newspaper The Elm toured the new facilities the same day as the Spy was there.

In addition to the upgraded projectors, screens and speakers in the theaters,  the bathrooms have new flooring and all new fixtures.

The theater is now in the process of hiring, Klein said. An employment application is on the website. Charlene Fowler, who managed the theater for 18 years before its closing, has already been rehired as the manager.

Intrepid Spy reporter Peter J. Heck tests new power recliner in it’s fully reclined position. He reports that it passes muster. Photo by Jane Jewell

New chairs – high and low styles – will be in the eating areas in the long hallway just outside the theaters. Photo by Jane Jewell

Working on the expanded concession area. Chesapeake 5 Movies Photo by Jane Jewell

New acoustic wall covering – Chesapeake 5 Movies

Entertainment Services employees, Christopher Lewis and Eylo Lang, worked overtime to get seats and other items installed and ready for the grand opening.

Cabinet maker Ed Copeland

Cabinet maker Ed Copeland


Photo Gallery Pictures by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell



Letters to Editor

  1. Rich Bolton says

    Hopefully we can get some good clean movies… it looks like a monumental project congratulations on such a super effort .. with all the competition for entertainment dollars and Netflix I hope this is a successful venture..

  2. Garret Falcone says

    Wonderful news!!
    Looking forward to it!
    Lets all really support the theater so its sucessful and stays!!

  3. If you you go by the theater today, Saturday, to inquire about the opening day, you may find yourself with Complementary Tickets.

  4. Tess Hogans says

    Did I read that correctly that you aren’t allowed to bring food into the theatre itself? Does that include popcorn?

  5. rachel goss says

    Thank you for offering the low admission price. This means a lot to so many!

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