At Beacon Cinema, the shows will go on — after some renovations

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PITTSFIELD — Phoenix Theatres might not own the Beacon Cinema just yet, but the Michigan-based company is already hard at work on improvements.

Cory Jacobson, president of the company, said there is more paperwork to sign before formally closing on the property Friday, but in the meantime, the cinema has closed its doors for 10 days as his company puts about $100,000 worth of improvements into the building.

They include painting the place, sanding its hardwood floors, and installing heated seats and a new sound system.

"We've got folks doing a lot of things," he told The Eagle on Wednesday.

Phoenix Theatres arranged to buy the building and assets for $644,000 after banks moved to foreclose on the property in September. The deal hinged on a controversial decision last month by the City Council to forgive decade-old debt owed the city by the cinema's current owner, Richard Stanley.

For $1.5 million that came from the city's Economic Development Fund, a reparations pool generated by the General Electric Co., that forgiveness comes with a catch: The city will forgive the loan over a period of 10 years, as long as the cinema stays open.

During conversations with councilors, Phoenix leaders presented themselves as a company experienced in saving small theaters. Jacobson said Wednesday that his team is getting a running start so the theater can reopen Dec. 21 with new movies, a newly renovated space, new ticket prices, extended hours and a doubled staff.

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"The big, big excitement is, we are putting in heated seats in every chair — just in time for the cold weather," he said.

The company also is installing a new projection system, Jacobson said, and a new Dolby 7.1 sound system. The new equipment will debut next weekend with "Mary Poppins Returns," "Aquaman" and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."

Starting Dec. 21, the Beacon will show matinees every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a flat rate of $5 a seat. The revamped cinema also will feature night shows throughout the evening, with the last shows starting at 10:45 p.m.

"It sort of spreads out the action and gives people options," Jacobson said.

General admission after 6 p.m. is $8.75, while children younger than 11 and seniors older than 60 get in for $6.

Jacobson said he and his team are accepting job applications before reopening next week. Anyone interested can apply at phoenixmovies.net.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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