BRADLEY BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A well-known Hollywood actor and a group of prominent film industry professionals are hoping to revive a local movie theater in New Jersey that was forced to close due to the pandemic.
When Nancy Sabino and Mike Sodano purchased the Showroom Cinema Bradley Beach in 2018, their goal was to preserve the space.
The vaudeville house turned movie theater has been a staple in the community since the 1920s.
“As a community anchor, a downtown movie theater is essential,” Sodano said.
The two spent thousands of dollars renovating the space only to have COVID shut its doors a few months after it reopened.
When New Jersey finally allowed theaters to reopen again, it was too late.
“When you have to have 100% of operating costs to only have 25% of income, it doesn’t make any sense,” Sabino told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
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The couple is now thrilled theater development company Cinema Lab plans to buy the space.
“It’s small and it’s intimate,” Cinema Lab CEO Luke Parker Bowles said.
Made up of film industry figures, including movie star Patrick Wilson and Bowles, nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall, Cinema Lab heard about the theater from an industry friend.
“There’s been so much support from the community. We were onto our lawyer the minute we left,” Bowles said.
Actor Patrick Wilson, who lives in New Jersey, wanted to be involved because he says movie theaters are the bedrock of smaller communities.
“There’s a necessity for theater, whether it’s on screen or on stage, that will never go away,” Wilson said.
Cinema Lab says it’s committed to investing in community theaters. The group says the plan is to buy, renovate and reopen dozens of theaters across America over the next five years.
Wilson says while it may take time for people to feel comfortable going back to big theaters, the group will make sure this one is a safe space.
“It’s a much more localized event. You’re not going into a theater full of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people,” he said.
Cinema Lab hopes the theater will be renovated and open by this summer.
Cinema Lab has started a Kickstarter to help raise funds to renovate the showroom. To donate, click here.
CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.
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