Moynihan: Playhouse To Have New Movie Operator in September at the Earliest


The town-owned Playhouse on Elm Street likely will have a new operator in September at the earliest, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said this week.

The town “may have news about a potential operator soon,” Moynihan told members of the Board of Finance during their regular meeting Tuesday, held via videoconference.

Municipal officials “are working on the assumption that the town wants a first-run movie theater and that’s what we’re working on,” he told the Board during a general update.

“If we can’t achieve that, we would look to other things,” he said. “But I think that’s a consensus in the town and certainly it supports restaurants and merchants to bring people to New Canaan. I don’t think anyone is in favor of saying we don’t want a first-run theater and we just want to develop the property into a commercial space or something.”

Closed since last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and available to a new tenant since Bow Tie Cinemas terminated its lease a few months ago, the iconic 1923-built movie house is on track to get new roofing this year and also will undergo interior capital upgrades, officials have said.

Finance board member Amy Murphy Carroll questioned whether moving forward with a movie theater was the best plan. 

Moynihan responded that “Bow Tie did not close because they were not successful.”

“They are focusing their business on real estate,” he said. “They have reopened their other theaters in major cities like Stamford and Norwalk. But they were making money in New Canaan.”

He added that, should members of the Board of Finance want to open up a discussion about leasing The Playhouse to a movie theater operator, that likely could be done at the time the town seeks approval from the appointed body of a release of funds for capital work there. 

Board Chair Todd Lavieri said it’s not the finance board’s role to decide whether or not The Playhouse will operate as a movie theater, but rather, should the selectmen and others decide on that direction, how to ensure it’s financed. 

Board member Neil Budnick asked whether the town is considering non-traditional “alternative theaters” such as those located in Bedford, N.Y. and Ridgefield.

Moynihan said the town is “talking to a number of parties.”

“And I think the desire is to go not with an arts theater, but with a first-run theater that could also have some alternative programming,” he said. “And everybody we’ve talked to says, you’ve got a goldmine here. Darien has lost their theater. Westport has lost their theater downtown. And actually Wilton has lost their theater, the Prospector has closed in Wilton. So we have a big footprint of people to draw from besides New Canaan.”

One thought on “Moynihan: Playhouse To Have New Movie Operator in September at the Earliest

  1. My family would prefer a first-run theater that could also have some alternative programming. That is our first choice if at all possible. Thank you.

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