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vanness commented about CinemaSalem on Mar 26, 2006 at 6:14 pm

Curtain will rise again at downtown theater

Friday, March 24, 2006

CinemaSalem, a new independent movie theater, will open later this spring in the Museum Place Mall. The theater will occupy the space formerly occupied by Patriot Cinema.
The new owners are planning a major renovation and, for now, are targeting June 1 as opening day.
“We’re redoing the space to create a more friendly, contemporary atmosphere,” said Paul Van Ness of Beverly who, along with Bill Collins of Gloucester, will operate the new cinema. “It’s rare to find a great theater in the middle of a vibrant downtown like Salem, and we want to take full advantage of that by creating a fun, community-oriented experience."
As an independent movie theater, CinemaSalem will have the freedom to offer creative film programming.
"We’re going to show a wide variety of quality films,” said Van Ness. “We’ll always want to be playing a great family film, an innovative art film, and a quality film out of Hollywood."
The new owners heard about the opportunity from Salem Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rinus Oosthoek.
"I’d worked with Rinus at Beverly Main Streets and Film North,” said Van Ness, “and we were one of the groups he called when the theater became available."
Van Ness and Collins are principals of Van Ness Creative Group in Beverly, the former as director of photography, the latter as editor.
"We hadn’t been looking for opportunity to run a theater, but when Rinus let us know it was available, it started to excite us,” said Van Ness. “It’s not a different line of work as much as an adjacency because we’re into independent filmmaking."
Van Ness and Collins are encouraging Salem and North Shore film-lovers to help them shape the theater’s direction over the next couple of months.
"We’re really excited about being a community theater,” said Van Ness, “so we want to get to know people, have them get to know us, and tell us what they want their theater to be like."
Toward that end, the theater’s Web site, www.CinemaSalem.com features a survey to allow community members to contribute ideas and suggestions for CinemaSalem.
"As far as we’ve been able to determine, this is the first time this movie theater has been operated independently, by local residents,” said Collins. “This gives us a great opportunity to create a theater that’s a popular meeting place for the community.
"After all,” he added, “for most people in Salem, Beverly, Marblehead and Swampscott, it’s easier to get to this theater than the cineplex."
CinemaSalem is upgrading the projectors and installing brand new surround-sound systems in each theater, enhancing the visual and audio aspects of the movie-going experience.
Van Ness and Collins have worked in related industries throughout their careers, the former in film and video production, and the latter in video broadcast engineering.
"There’s nothing like watching a great movie on the big screen with your family or a bunch of friends,” said Collins. “That' s what CinemaSalem is all about.”