Mitchell Chapman: North Adams deserves a movie theater | Columnists

Mitchell Chapman: North Adams deserves a movie theater | Columnists

One of the challenges of aging is the realization that many places you hold dear no longer exist, at least in the way you remember them.

Over the past few years, I have felt this as the institutions that have shaped who I am have closed or transformed in Berkshire County.

My elementary school – Berkshire Trail in Cummington – closed in 2015. My college newspaper newsroom at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where I honed my craft and forged irreplaceable memories with some truly talented people, is also different; it has changed since I graduated. The entire Berkshire Mall – barring Target – has been a shadow of its former self, falling into disrepair as it seems likely it will house mini cannabis farms.

The North Adams Cinema has announced its closure at the end of the month.

The North Adams Movieplex, which closed last month, is now one of those fallen spaces.

The theater owners did not say why it closed. Local social media groups have been full of speculation, with some blaming Netflix and other streaming giants. It’s the classic argument of new technology replacing the old every time a legacy company goes bankrupt – an argument that doesn’t satisfy me. While it’s true that we live in a world with streaming, we still live in an era of pop culture where big blockbuster “event movies” are still particularly relevant. Even during a global pandemic, we have must-see movies like “Avatar: The Way of Water” garnering box office records, even though it seems like last year’s big releases were few and far between.

Plus, going to the movies is still a relatively affordable activity in the county, at least if you don’t go crazy for concessions. Ticket prices on the Movieplex website were $7 for adults and $6 for seniors, students and children – a bargain compared to what it costs to go to the theater in the big metropolitan areas. At my girlfriend’s home theater in Harlem, full price tickets are about $20, with prices for seniors and children only a few dollars less. Pittsfield’s Beacon, which offers reclining and heated seats, is also reasonably priced, as its general admission is $10 ($7 for seniors, children, and matinee performances).

Last year saw the history of two very different Berkshire cinemas, as The Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield had its best fourth quarter last…

I’ve written about struggling movie theaters before, particularly when Regal Cinemas closed its Berkshire Mall location last year. Regal suffered from two major factors, both related to the location: it was out of the way and part of a decrepit mall that several developers failed to revive. Its fate stood in stark contrast to that of Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, which was just coming off a boom in 2021 thanks in part to big blockbuster movies like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and their commitment to staying “constantly” open, owner Cory Jacobson told The Eagle at the time.

As a student at MCLA between 2014 and 2018, the North Adams Movieplex was one of my favorite places thanks to its low prices and plentiful screenings. It was easy to become a movie buff in this town, and I think it’s so important that the people of North Adams have access to a local movie theater where they can see blockbuster movies, because going to the movies is always an experience interesting in 2023 It’s an easy date night, a way to see the current big movie everyone is talking about and just a simple way to get away from it all for a little while, which cinema has always been great for.

North Adams deserves to have a movie theater. The easiest way to do this might be to put another one in the Movieplex footprint. Several people on social media have floated the idea of ​​Phoenix Theatres, owners of the Beacon in Pittsfield, possibly reviving the Movieplex. It could work if North Adams offered similar support as Pittsfield for the Beacon. Phoenix has certainly gained a foothold in the county, but it’s up to them whether they want to expand their reach north. If not, I hope another theater operator might be interested in reviving the space.

Either way, the Berkshire Mall provides a pertinent lesson that time is of the essence for such revivals, as the decay of its building has been a major impediment to new development. The absolute worst-case scenario for North Adams is for the Movieplex to sit abandoned for years.

The loss of the Movieplex is a blow to North Adams that I hope the town will recover from. This is just one more example of businesses struggling to succeed in the Berkshires and should serve as a sobering reminder that even long-standing institutions need constant community support if they are to last. .

Mitchell Chapman is the Nightly News Editor of The Eagle.

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