The Chesapeake 5 movie theater held its grand opening Friday, Oct. 12, and a good crowd was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the lobby.
On hand to wield the scissors was Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino, accompanied by council members Linda Kuiper, Marty Stetson, and Ellsworth Tolliver, along with county commissioners Ron Fithian and Billy Short. The economic development directors for the town and county, Kay MacIntosh and Jamie Williams, were also present; both took significant roles in helping bring the theater back to town.
Mike Klein, Ira Miller, and Bob Weinholdt, principals of Chesapeake Movies, were also on hand for the opening – as well as a good crowd of interested locals.
Cerino, in opening remarks, described the process of returning the theater to town as“a long haul,” and he thanked the owners for sticking it out. He also thanked the county commissioners for their part in extending a $75,000 loan to the theater to allow them to complete renovations. The loan will be repaid from proceeds of the town’s entertainment tax.
Weinholdt, who performed much of the renovation needed before the reopening, described the local people he met while working at the theater, as some of “the nicest people I’ve ever met.” He said the theater had used as many local contractors as possible, as well as hiring locally.
Mike Klein and Ira Miller, the other two principals of Chesapeake Movies along with Weinholdt, spoke eloquently about how much movies had meant to them growing up and how they hoped to bring back that small town movie theater experience where families go to movies together and young people go on their first dates. You make memories as well as seeing movies, they said.
The theater was open for tours, with visitors invited to check out the new recliner seats and the other amenities, including snacks and drinks.
Your Spy reporters returned Friday evening to check on attendance to the first night’s shows. Not surprisingly, plenty of movie-goers made it to the opening night. The biggest draws were “Venom” and “First Man,” according to box office personnel. “The House with a Clock” and “Night School” will be shown through Thursday, Oct 18. The other three movies, “Venom”, “First Man”, and “Venom” will continue for at least another week with “A Star is Born” and “Halloween 2018” opening on Friday, Oct. 19.
Almost all the recliners, which patrons can reserve by phone or online, were sold out. Patrons can reserve recliners days or even weeks in advance and pay for them online at the theater’s website. General admission tickets after 4:00 pm are $9.00 for adults with $7.00 for children 12 or under and seniors 62 or over. Recliners are $2 more in each category. Matinees before 4:00 pm are a dollar off for adults. See seating chart below or online.
The rocker chairs up front in general admission have cup holders while the recliners do not. But there are new eating areas just outside each theater door where patrons can sit at small tables with their food and beverages while waiting for their movie to start. In addition to popcorn ($4.50 small, $6 medium, $7 large), the theater has cheese pizza for $7 ($7.50 with pepperoni) and chicken tenders with french fries for $7.50. Hot dogs are $3.50. Sodas run $3 for small, $4 medium, and $5 for large. But refills are free!
Two or three experienced employees from one of the owners’ other theaters were on hand during each shift to help the new employees learn the ropes. Almost all of the new employees are local hires from Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties. Quite a few are Kent County High School grads. Two– Jillian Thomas and Alan Yang– are current students at Queen Anne’s High School.
The ticket office and concessions stand workers – about a dozen, all told — were almost as excited as the patrons, who were pleased to see movies returning to town after a nearly 18-month hiatus. With Saturday and Sunday matinees, discounted prices on Tuesdays, free drink refills, and a points system in which regular customers can get rewards for their ticket and concession purchases, their patience appears to be amply rewarded.
You can see current and upcoming movies and sign up for the theater’s weekly email and rewards program at the website, www.ChesapeakeMovies5.com. If you sign up online before your first movie, your ticket price will go toward reward points. Just be sure to give your email to the box office or at the concession stand.
Welcome to Chestertown, Chesapeake Movies!
Photography by Jane Jewell and Peter Heck