Town of New Canaan Signs Letter of Intent with Cinema Lab to Operate and Reopen The Playhouse Movie Theater

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan today announced that the Town has entered into a Letter of Intent with Cinema Lab LLC of New Jersey whereby the Town and Cinema Lab will renovate the New Canaan Playhouse building (The Playhouse) with a plan to reopen the movie theater in the second quarter of 2023

Cinema Lab is a movie theatre development and management company focusing on community-vital cinemas. Cinema Lab will add The Playhouse as one of a series of theaters around the country that will offer a technology-forward, ecologically-conscious movie theater showing first run movies that will lead the way in hospitality, programming, presentation and design.  Cinema Lab currently has cinemas in The Village at SOPAC in South Orange and The Bradley at Bradley Beach, New Jersey and The Canon in Canon City, Colorado.  

The proposal includes renovating the exterior and interior of The Playhouse in order to meet current ADA regulations and building codes as well as transformation of the auditorium.  The project design will be dedicated to preserving the historical significance and charm of the original building by leaving the architectural design of the façade and the marquee intact and highlighting the street front windows as an enticing view into a new cinematic experience.  The interior renovations include the addition of a bar that would serve alcoholic beverages, a concession grab and go café, re-imagined auditorium seating with plush chairs and a table to support elevated drinks and local fare.

The Cinema Lab team consists of Luke Parker Bowles; CEO, an award winning film and movie producer and industry veteran, Andy Childs; CFO, former North American CFO of hotel and private club operator Soho House, Brandon Jones; CMO, President of FILMFROG marketing, an outsourced marketing agency and 8 years as head of marketing and director of sales for Studio Movie Grill, the pioneer of in theater dining, Patrick Wilson; Head of Experience, a critically acclaimed actor, director with Tony, Emmy and Gold Globe nominations as well as others. Cinema Lab is an entrepreneurial group that is in the process of assembling a group of local investors in support of the project.

Town funding for the proposed project will consist of $600,000 of American Relief Act funds, $1 million of Bonded Capital and the use of $750,000 from the town’s Movie Theater Fund which has accrued from rent collections from tenants over many years. Cinema Lab has committed to contribute $1.5 million toward the cost of the interior renovations.

The Grand Re-Opening of The Playhouse is planned for the Spring of 2023, which will be the 100th Anniversary year of the building of The Playhouse.

First Selectman Moynihan commented: “I am excited to consummate the Letter of Intent today with Cinema Lab in order to be able to renovate and reopen The Playhouse in time for its Centennial year in 2023. We are very pleased to be working with the Cinema Lab team to create a movie theater experience in New Canaan that will be truly unique and will benefit our business community and will be enjoyed by our residents and residents of surrounding towns for years to come.”

Luke Parker Bowles said: “We feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to develop The Playhouse into a place that seamlessly fits into New Canaan. This beautiful environment is the perfect background for our theater, and we look forward to partnerships with local vendors and programming opportunities with schools, the Library and a cornucopia of other offerings. Thank you for entrusting your historic building to Cinema Lab - it will be a very special place for all ages for many years to come”.

Submitted by New Canaan, CT

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