By PETE WALTON
The reopening of an iconic theater in Bradley Beach is moving closer with the signing of a contract.
A group called Cinema Lab said it has signed an agreement to buy the former Showroom Cinema Bradley Beach on Main Street.
Cinema Lab plans to reopen the movie house as The Bradley before next summer.
A date for closing the transaction has not yet been set.
Luke Parker Bowles, the chief executive officer of Cinema Lab, said he expects to reveal more details to the public in November.
The group has reportedly purchased the liquor license formerly used by Giamano’s Restaurant so that alcohol can be served in the entertainment venue for the first time.
In January of this year, six industry veterans and New Jersey locals announced their plan to purchase the building, which opened in 1915 as the Palace Theatre and was renamed the Beach Cinema 60 years later.
“This theater is a vital part of the history of Bradley Beach, and an essential cultural center which has been devastated by this pandemic,” Arianna Bocco, president of AMC Networks’ IFC Films, said at the time. “As a year-round resident, I could not be more thrilled to work with an amazing group of passionate film professionals to save this landmark as a movie theater for our entire community to enjoy.”
Cinema Lab set up an online fundraiser with a goal of raising $50,000,
As of Sept. 27, 332 backers have pledged a total of $65,090
Plans call for a three-screen cinema that will also feature live performances and community events.
The theater presented vaudeville acts before switching to film in 1925. Starting in 1976, under the ownership of John Esposito, the Beach Cinema presented films at affordable prices for more than four decades. Michael Sodano and Nancy Sabino purchased the theater and rebranded it as The Showroom Cinema Bradley Beach in May 2019. They closed the operation due to the pandemic after spending tens of thousands of dollars on renovations.
“It looks like Bradley Beach will have its theater back,” said Mayor Larry Fox. “The Cinema Lab Group is working to complete a deal soon. Contracts have been signed and there is a good probability this will happen.”
Fox thanked former mayor Gary Engelstad for his efforts to find investors who might be interested in operating a theater. He credited Bocco for bringing the Cinema Lab team to the borough.
“We are looking forward to the theater coming back next year,” Fox said. “This is a big step in our continued focus on Main Street.”