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Entertainment & Lifestyle

New indie cinema set to open in Akron

6/26/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On July 1, The Nightlight Cinema, a 50-seat, one-screen movie theater, will officially open at 30 N. High St. in Downtown Akron.

“The Nightlight is a micro cinema,” said Robert Lucas, director of communications for Akron Film+Pixel. “Because of the size and because of the population of Akron, we can show movies that normally wouldn’t get huge audiences. We are showing independent films, foreign films, revival films and even some bigger films, like in the first week we will show ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ The goal is to show movies that do not normally show in Akron.”

Lucas said the theater will be open six days a week, Tuesdays through Sundays.

“We will have two showings each day, and every once in a while we will have a midnight movie. We already have a couple of those planned,” he said. “The theater is part of Akron Film+Pixel, which used to be the Akron Film Festival. The goal was to have a place of our own, where we could pretty much show whatever we want to, six days a week. Generally, the showings will start at 6 or 6:30 p.m., and we’ll have a second showing at 9-ish, depending on the length of the movie.”

The theater’s screen is 16 feet wide and there is an eight-speaker surround-sound system.

“The projector is a Christie digital cinema projector, which is a really cool projector that is definitely cinema-grade. It’s the equivalent of what you would see in a mainstream cinema,” Lucas said. “And one thing that I think is really neat is that we can control it by using an iPhone or an iPad. We can start it, stop it, pause it, start a different movie or turn the sound up or down using an app. It’s a pretty advanced projector and it looks awesome.”

In addition, the theater includes a lounge area where moviegoers can get together before or after the movie, along with a cafe that will include items such as pastries from The Blue Door Café in Cuyahoga Falls and Cupcake Binge in Munroe Falls. The theater also is in the process of getting a liquor license, Lucas noted.

The Nightlight’s opening run of films will be as follows:

  • Cuyahoga Falls native Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” will play July 1-3 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and July 4-5 at midnight;
  • a remastered version of The Beatles’ “A Hard Days Night” celebrating the film’s 50th anniversary is set for July 4-6, 8 and 10 at 7 p.m.;
  • “Night Moves,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard, will run July 4-6 and July 8-10 at 9 p.m. and July 11-13 and July 15-17 at 7 p.m.;
  • “Snowpiercer,” starring Chris Evans, is slated for July 11-13 at midnight; and
  • “Life Itself,” a documentary about film critic Roger Ebert, will play July 13, 15-17 at 9:15 p.m. and July 18-24 at 7 p.m.

“We are very excited to open The Nightlight with a movie by one of [this area’s] most prominent natives,” said Steve Felix, director of Akron Film+Pixel. “Together, these films represent the programming planned for the future of the theater: independent works by modern filmmakers and retro classics restored for the big screen.”

Tickets cost $8.50 and can be purchased at The Nightlight Box Office prior to screenings. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is free after 6 p.m. An online ticket booking system will be available at www.nightlightcinema.com in late July, with a schedule of all upcoming movies available on the website as well.

According to Lucas, the planning process for the theater has not taken as long as one might expect.

“The plans started coming together roughly in mid-2013,” he said. “I think we received the [$120,000] grant in August of 2013, and we started looking for locations in the fall. Then we just started construction a few months ago, in early 2014.”

Akron Film+Pixel officials said The Nightlight was constructed with a key grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Additional funding was granted by the GAR Foundation, Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation and the Akron-Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau. The community also contributed through a Kickstarter campaign. The theater will be operated by the nonprofit organization Akron Film+Pixel.

“We have seen the need for more independent films in the Akron area, through our Akron film events, whether through the Akron Film Festival or the Akron Film+Pixel night,” he said. “We always have people who show up and say they have to drive to Cleveland to see such-and-such-a-movie. For more than a decade, we have done a lot of polling to see what people want to see and what they’d like in a theater, and we’ve applied those ideas here. There are plenty of people in the area who are looking for a place closer to home for independent first-run films.”

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