We got the terrible news from a community email blast this morning – here is the letter from CinemaSalem owner Paul Van Ness:
On June 2, 2006, CinemaSalem opened its doors for the first time for a special free screening of The Wizard of Oz. After exactly 14 years of showing movies, launching film festivals, promoting cultural conversation, and popping tons of popcorn, CinemaSalem is closing. (Of course, we’ve actually been closed since March 16 when the state’s efforts to restrict the spread of the coronavirus required movie theaters to shutter.)We have been working hard over the past six months to recruit new operators for the theater, and we succeeded in finding two well-qualified parties with creative business plans and community-oriented visions. But once the pandemic hit, neither believed they could find a way to make the numbers add up to a sustainable business.Though the closing is sad, the time we’ve spent running CinemaSalem has been sweet as an opportunity to personally get to know hundreds of great people in the North Shore community and become much more aware of the richness of the local arts and culture scene. It’s been a profoundly joyful experience. We want to acknowledge the contributions made by many people and organizations around Salem, especially the Salem Film Fest organization, and Rinus Oosthoek and the Salem Chamber of Commerce.And we are deeply grateful to the large number of amazing people who worked at CinemaSalem over our colorful history. They were hard-working, entertaining, diverse, intelligent, quirky, hilarious and dedicated. We especially want to express appreciation to our incomparable long-time managers, Kereth, Shanna, and Peter.Finally, we want to acknowledge the CinemaSalem community, the 829,741 people who bought tickets to movies and live events at our independent downtown movie theater over the past 14 years. You made it such a fun and vibrant place!Thank you.Paul Van Ness
This loss is just STAGGERING news -we had thought that CinemaSalem would be purchased by another owner and would continue well into the 21st century. Alas, that does not appear to be the case.
The permanent loss of CinemaSalem will no doubt directly affect the annual Salem Film Fest, which cancelled its most recent fest in March due to the pandemic. While I’m sure that other venues, such as the Black Box Theatre in Peabody and the Cabot in Beverly will step up and help out with more screenings, it won’t be the same. We have attended this fest more often than not since 2013, and CinemaSalem’s vibrant feel and wonderful staff have made it a truly unique festival experience.
Here’s hoping someone will step up and reopen the cinema after the pandemic ends..but for now…thanks for the wonderful memories, CinemaSalem…WE WILL MISS YOU SO MUCH!