When Casman Properties announced plans to redevelop the Star Cinema building in Sidney, there was some worry from the community, but owner Sandy Oliver and manager Lindsay Pomper want to reassure people they’re staying for the long haul.
A new window display outlines their future plan, which includes a third screen and bigger, more accessible lobby. It also asks people to write some letters of support as Casman prepares to apply to the Town of Sidney. Pompeo said the new window display was to update patrons on their plans and “provide reassurance to people that we’re not going anywhere.”
“We wanted people to have that information that we’re going to continue, no matter what,” said Oliver.
“People come in all the time and talk to us about how much they appreciate the cinema,” Oliver added. “I barely get through a day without people saying how much they love coming here and how much of a difference it’s made for them to have a cinema so local, so convenient, so full of movies they want to see.”
Oliver said Casman is beginning to submit their development plans, and she said it was wonderful that they were approached right away.
“They understood the cinema was going to be a crucial part of their development and they want to make sure we get what we need,” said Oliver. She said the letters of support would be useful when approaching decision makers.
Casman has also offered to help them with finding a temporary space, which they would need for about two years while the building is constructed.
Oliver said she has heard some surprise from people that they were hoping for a third screen, but she said it was important to increase the variety of offerings to stay viable.
“We want a bigger lobby, to improve accessibility, but we also want to offer the kinds of films we get requests for all the time, but that third screen would let us do foreign films or ongoing programs or fundraisers,” she said.
A third screen would also let Star Cinema lock in a desirable film months in advance to provide predictability to their film schedule. Pomper said there are more constraints now imposed by movie studies on theatres, particularly for independent ones.
“Companies like Disney would require you to open a film, have it on for four weeks and you can’t share the screen with anything else,” said Pomper. “Sidney has a smaller population, so four weeks is really hard, but you still want to show those larger films because they reach certain demographics.”
Pomper said the third screen doesn’t mean the cinema is going to greatly expand the number of seats (Star Cinema seats about 300 across both screens now). She heard concerns that a significantly expanded theatre might create issues for surrounding businesses and streets, but Pompeo said that wasn’t the case. She said while total seating capacity might increase a little, it was mainly to increase the variety of films they could show.
Oliver said they’re keeping the seats the community fund-raised for, though the third screen would have more loveseats and cozy chairs.
Oliver said the theatre is located within walking distance to restaurants, so residents can stop in for a meal before a movie or go shopping after.
“I still want to say it’s an amenity. It’s a destination for people.”