Theater demolition begins
Work underway on new Main Street Movies 5
Much of the shuttered Newark Cinema Center resembles a ghost town.
The seats have been removed and unceremoniously piled up waiting to be hauled away. The projection room sits dark, with no signs of the equipment that illuminated the giant screens for decades. A soda fountain, with its hoses still connected, lies discarded on the floor where the concession stand once stood.
In the largest of the three theaters, a handful of popcorn – likely dropped by one of the Cinema Center’s last customers – is still scattered on the floor, serving as a reminder of the thou- sands of moviegoers that once flocked to Newark’s only theater.
Elsewhere in the building, however, there are signs of life. During the past couple weeks, crews have been hard at work taking out walls in preparation for the $3 million renovation of the theater as Main Street Movies 5.
Over the coming months, the inside of the theater in Newark Shopping Center will be gutted and rebuilt, said Rick Roman, one of the owners of Main Street Movies 5.
“We’re doing everything over from the beginning,” Roman said.
Most of the exterior walls will remain, but construction crews will add on approximately 5,000 square feet in the back and to the left of the current footprint, in space that once housed an employment agency. Additionally, the inside of the building will be reconfigured, and new draperies and seats will be installed.
The result will be a five-screen theater featuring reclining seats and self-serve ticket kiosks.
Roman, who originally hoped for a summer opening, now estimates the theater will open in late September or early October.
The Newark Cinema Center was evicted last October, unable to pay rent and afford needed upgrades.
Roman and his business partners announced their plans for the independent Main Street Movies 5 in January. Roman also runs Westown Movies in Middletown, but says the Newark theater will be operated as a standalone business.
Last month, the theater successfully petitioned city council to amend city code to allow movie theaters to sell alcohol. However, it still needs to apply for a special-use permit from the city to do so.
“The city has been very supportive and wonderful,” Roman said.
He also hopes to bring in local businesses to sell their food at the theater’s concession stand.
Crews have removed the seats from inside the Newark Cinema Center, as part of renovations to what will become Main Street Movies 5.
A handful of popcorn is still strewn on the floor of the old Newark Cinema Center, a reminder of the thousands of moviegoers who once flocked to the theater.