New Moon Rises for North Adams, Pittsfield Theaters

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Choices for moviegoers in Central and Northern Berkshire suddenly tripled today as the North Adams MoviePlex 8 and Pittsfield's Beacon Cinema throw open their doors tonight for the much-anticipated "New Moon."

The North Adams theaters are reopening at midnight under new management after former owner Cinema North Corp. went bankrupt last month. The Beacon Cinema project, a six-theater, $23 million venture on North Street, also opens at midnight tonight.

That's good news for people looking for the first-run blockbusters that fuel the holiday season.

The North Adams theaters are being operated by George Gohl, who owns Greenfield Gardens Cinema. Gohl is leasing the space and equipment from Neil Ellis, owner of the former Kmart plaza where the cinemas are located.

Gohl's life partner, William "Bill" Gobeille, described the cinemas as a turnkey operation and said the former staff, including manager Scott Ingalls, were being brought back to run it.

The goal, he said, had been to get the cinemas open in time for "New Moon" and the holiday season. "It's been a very hectic couple of weeks."

"New Moon," the second movie based on the teen vampire "Twilight" book series by author Stephanie Meyers, is expected to exceed the record $70-plus million its predecessor made on opening weekend last year.

Gohl and Gobeille purchased the 80-year-old Vaudeville theater in Greenfield in 2001. It has seven screens and draws about 90,000 patrons a year.

Gobeille said the North Adams cinemas may also add independent and art films to cater to the colleges and growing arts community. Like the Greenfield theater, which holds monthly fundraisers for local youth groups, they would like it to become "a real presence in the community."

There's no doubt the closure of the North Adams cinemas was felt by residents. The nonprofit Images Cinema in Williamstown offered an alternative but its single screen rarely shows Hollywood blockbusters. 

North Berkshire residents have had to trek to the Berkshire Mall (or to Bennington, Vt.) to see a movie. The same's been true for years for Pittsfield residents: the mall or points south. The county's biggest city has been without movie theater for two decades.

That will no longer be true after midnight with the opening of the Beacon Cinema. The brainchild of developer Richard Stanley, owner of the Triplex in Great Barrington, the renovation of the historic Kinnell-Kresge building will include shops and restaurants along with state-of-the-art cinemas with 3-D screens and stadium seating.

Pittsfield officials are hoping the cinemas' opening — a month ahead of schedule — will be a major catalyst in reinvigorating the downtown area. A formal ribbon-cutting will take place on Friday at 11 a.m.

But anyone hoping to attend tonight's midnight showing of "New Moon" at the Beacon is out of luck — unless they already own one of the 850 tickets sold. All six theaters are full, Stanley told The Berkshire Eagle on Wednesday.

However, everyone's invited to the block party at the Beacon being held in conjunction with Third Thursday. There will be a trivia contest and awards for the best Bella and Edward lookalikes.

Tickets (cash only) in North Adams for "New Moon" go on sale at the door beginning at 9 p.m. Only one theater will be open so it's first come, first served.

Of course, you can still go to the mall. Our media partner WUPE will be there. Costume contest, a fundraiser for wolves and lots of other stuff going on. And if you can't make the midnight show, Regal Cinema is planning a 2:45 a.m. showing as well.
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