Owner of Capawock Theatre Speaks to Tisbury Merchants
By JAMES KINSELLA
Gazette Senior Writer
Movies are scheduled to return Nov. 1 to the screen of the long-dark Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven.
Capawock co-owner Benjamin Hall Jr. told a meeting of the Tisbury Business Association last night that renovations at the cinema are nearly complete.
Mr. Hall said the theatre has new seats and new bathrooms, and will offer improved sound. The Halls also plan to shift digital movie equipment from the Island Theatre in Oak Bluffs to the Capawock, where they plan to show digital movies once a week, he said.
The Hall family, which has owned the Capawock for decades, plans to show movies seven days a week. The Halls plan to close their other two theatres, the Island and the Strand in Oak Bluffs, during the off-season.
The standard admission price would be $8, Mr. Hall told the gathering of about 20 merchants at the Mansion House last night. He said the plan is to show a movie a night and at times a children's matinee.
Mr. Hall emphasized that support is needed from Vineyard movie-goers to keep the cinema open and running seven days a week.
To encourage that support the Halls are considering offering off-season movie discount books as well as a monthly movie club with discount prices.
Business association members expressed interest in partnering with the Capawock as a way of bringing more life to Vineyard Haven after dark. The Capawock also may show advertisements for local businesses.
The discounts would end at the end of April, Mr. Hall said, because summer revenues are needed to cover winter losses.
A reception celebrating the reopening of the theatre likely will be held on Nov. 1, with the first movie showing after that.
The news was warmly received by members of the business association.
"We don't want to live in a ghost town," said Mansion House owner Susan Goldstein. "How many nights will you be open?" she added. "We're shooting for seven," Mr. Hall replied. "It's definitely three or four, but we're shooting for seven."
The Main street cinema, which has been shuttered for two years, is a cornerstone of Vineyard Haven. Members of the business community say the Capawock's closure has put a damper on commerce downtown.
Discontent over the closed theatre grew this past summer to the point where a group of both summer and year-round residents met in private to discuss taking the property by eminent domain. To do so, they would have placed an article by citizen petition on the warrant of a special town meeting. The Tisbury selectmen said they would have supported such a move.
The Capawock Theatre is located on a parcel of property that also houses the old Murray's building to the north. The assessed value of the land and two buildings is $1.27 million.
Family members Brian and Benjamin Hall Jr. subsequently met with town officials and business officials to talk about the cinema's future. "The bottom line is we just want the theatre open," selectman Denys Wortman said.
Following that meeting, the Halls said they planned to reopen the Capawock by Nov. 1. But they also said they intended to revive the theatre all along.
"Probably our biggest mistake has been not to have communicated to the public that we are indeed reopening," Brian Hall said at the time.
The Halls historically have dominated the movie theatre market on the Vineyard.
The Halls had expressed their intent to open the Capawock earlier. In June 2005, Brian Hall said he anticipated reopening the cinema by August of that year. This past February, a voice on the answering machine of the movie line for the Halls' theatres announced the Capawock would be ready by April or earlier.
But as the months went on and the doors remained closed, patience began to run thin in Vineyard Haven.
The Halls, however, said they also were unhappy over the pace of the renovation.
"It's hurting us as well - we're losing money," Brian Hall said in August.