Neighborhood Theaters in Lower Hudson Valley
A feature article, “Pressure increases on Lower Hudson neighborhood moviehouses” by Candice Ferrette, ran on December 16, 2005 in Gannett’s The Journal News. (You can read it here, but I’m not sure how long the link will be active.)
The impetus for the article is the opening of the new 14-screen multiplex, The Waterfront at Port Chester, just one of a number of new multiplexes in the area. It focuses on the three-screen Larchmont theater, but also includes a list of all the smaller venues in the lower Hudson Valley. As the article says, “…in the age of the multiplex — and the even bigger megaplex with more than 15 screens each — size, selection and stadium seating may matter more than the ability to walk to the old picture house on Main Street. … neighborhood theaters in some Sound Shore communities are caught in the classic struggle between the ‘quaint and charming’ and the ‘bigger with more selection.’”
As the article points out, Clearview Cinemas, whose parent company is Cablevision, is owner and operator of nearly all of the smaller theaters in the Lower Hudson Valley—seven in Westchester and one in Rockland. Many of them have fewer than five screens per location, including the Mamaroneck Playhouse, the Rye Ridge Cinema in Rye Brook and the Larchmont Playhouse. These compare to the 15 screens at National Amusement’s Cinema De Lux at the City Center in White Plains, the 18 screens at the Regal New Roc City in New Rochelle and the 14 new screens at the Loews theater in Port Chester.
The article claims representatives of Clearview say there are no plans to close the theaters and won’t quote numbers on attendance, but it says “some patrons say seats are empty and attendance has dwindled”. It points out that locations including Mamaroneck and Rye Ridge are cutting prices, now offering movies for $7 as opposed to the $9.50 at most theaters.
A Clearview spokesperson said this was “an attempt to stimulate movie-going over the summer” and will continue into the future. The article also notes that Cablevision has owned the company since 1998, and while Cablevision did not make quarterly earnings available, the cable company did try to sell the movie theater chain in 2002.
The article contains a discussion of the role of the neighborhood theater in any downtown, the trend toward megaplexes, and strategies for small theater survival that include alternative programming.
Here is the list provided with the article of neighborhood theaters or theaters with fewer than 10 screens, typically located in a downtown setting, in the lower Hudson Valley:
All owned by Clearview Cinemas: Bedford Playhouse, Bronxville Cinemas, Cinema 100 in Greenburgh, Larchmont Playhouse, Mamaroneck Playhouse, Rye Ridge Cinema, Mount Kisco Cinemas, Yonkers-Central Plaza Cinema.
United Artists/Regal Movieland 1234 in Yonkers
Empire Cinemas 3 in Brewster, Carmel Movieplex 8.
Clearview Cinemas in New City, Maveli Twin Cinema 59 in Spring Valley.
Independent, arts, historic and nonprofit theaters:
Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville
Pelham Picture House
Paramount Center in Peekskill
Ackerman Fine Arts Cinema in Greenburgh
Lafayette Theater in Suffern
Ramapo Cultural Arts Center in Spring Valley.