Landlord Hopes to Keep Theater on Cedar Lane
Potential movie theater operators have balked at the cost of upgrading Cedar Lane Cinemas to digital format.
The landlord of the recently closed Cedar Lane Cinemas is committed to finding another tenant to run the historic theater, a consultant for the group said Sunday.
Still, potential theater operators approached so far have been unwilling to cover the approximately $300,000 to $500,000 cost of upgrading the decades-old cinema’s four screens to a soon-required digital projection system, said Dennis Gralla, a real estate consultant for landlord Cedar Lane Teaneck Corp.
“Our goal is really to keep a theater there,” Gralla told Patch. “We think it’s important in Teaneck to have that theater.”
The landlord would also be willing to invest in other upgrades at the movie house if a suitable long-term tenant was secured, Gralla said. Other entertainment venues would also be welcomed.
Converting the theater space to retail would be a costly endeavor, he said.
Cedar Lane Cinemas announced last week it would close, citing the high cost of switching to a digital projection system.
Smaller theaters across the country have been grappling with the new digital requirement, which replaces 35-millimeter film. Upgrade costs can run about $125,000 per screen, but studios maintain the digital format saves them money on film printing and can allow theaters to charge more in offering 3D movies.
An estimated 10 to 20 percent of theaters nationwide may shut down instead of converting, according to industry news website TheWrap.com. As of an August report, 3,447 of the country’s 5,700 theaters had made the switch.
One community theater in Nebraska asked for donations to help cover upgrade costs, but was ultimately forced to close. The Historic State Theatre in Minnesota also turned to the community for support to cover the digital price tag.
In Teaneck, a grassroots effort to save the theater has already formed. Gralla said he planned to the meet with the group in the coming weeks.
“Once the options have been discussed and there is some direction, there will be an effort to involve the community and build support to rebuild, refurbish and reopen the theater,” Judy Distler, the group’s organizer, said in an e-mail.
Cedar Lane Cinemas, which opened in the 1930s, has changed hands over the years before the latest operator, Majestic-Star Entertainment. Teaneck’s only movie theater was a fixture in the area, attracting moviegoers with its cheap ticket prices while driving business to area merchants.