Cinema Lab, the new operator of the five-screen Village Cinemas at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) in New Jersey, will reopen the theater on July 22, 2021 with preview pricing for all showtimes for a limited time, it was announced today. The theater, Cinema Lab’s first to open, is immediately available for private screening rentals.
The Cinema Lab team — which includes actor-producer Patrick Wilson, entrepreneur and former Stitcher CEO Erik Diehn and film & TV producer and former BAFTA NY Chair Luke Parker Bowles — will offer a slate of the latest studio and independent films, as well as indie and documentary series and conversations with filmmakers, at the reopened theater.
“On behalf of South Orange Village, I’m thrilled to welcome Cinema Lab to our community,” said Village President Sheena Collum. “As residents and neighboring communities return to the movies, The Village at SOPAC is a perfect place to enjoy the entertainment and social experience all of us are seeking.”
Over the next several months, The Village at SOPAC will be renovated with plush seating, an updated lobby lounge space and a technology-first environment, allowing guests to be in control of their tickets, pre-order concessions – both traditional and from an expanded hot and cold menu – and stay up to date on happenings at the theater, membership information, and more.
Tickets for the first shows go on sale soon and can be purchased at cinemalab.com.
“Movie theaters have always been such an essential part of our culture,” said Parker Bowles, “And as we add the finishing touches to The Village at SOPAC, we wanted to provide that connecting, communal experience to our area film lovers. After the unbelievable fifteen months that we have all shared, we are so excited to bring movie-going back to the community.”
Added Paul Bartick, SOPAC chair, “We’re excited to welcome Cinema Lab, a community-focused organization that understands the artistic tastes of our community. The Village at SOPAC will be offering a variety of cinematic arts programming ranging from independent movies, art house films, and Hollywood blockbusters.”
“Our community has keenly felt the loss of arts programming throughout the past months. With the opening of The Village at SOPAC, and live performances scheduled in the Jennifer and Tony Leitner Performance Hall, there is a buzz of anticipation in the air,” added SOPAC’s Acting Executive Director Dee Billia. “The South Orange Performing Arts Center welcomes Cinema Lab and looks forward to a long and productive relationship.”
The partners and investors behind The Village at SOPAC, who are described as sharing “a dedication to the cinematic experience at the local level,” also include film marketing executive and former Studio Movie Grill CMO Brandon Jones; Andy Childs, an original member of the Soho House North American team who acts respectively as the chief executive officer, chief marketing officer and chief operating officer of Cinema Lab and The Village at SOPAC; and entertainment industry veteran Vincent Onorati.
The Village at SOPAC is just the first in a series of iconic New Jersey cinemas that Cinema Lab is planning to open over the next two years. The Bradley (in Bradley Beach) is slated to open later this year, while The Maplewood (in Maplewood) will open in 2022. The company is aiming to open roughly 15 venues in the next five years across the U.S.
In a press release, Cinema Lab is described as “a movie theatre development and management company focused on community-vital cinemas. We believe movie theatres are the metaphorical and literal heart and soul of creating culture and driving economic growth for many towns and cities. We focus on a technology-first experience with expanded hot and cold menu options and a wide complement of studio, independent and uncommon alternate programming. “
Opened in 2006, SOPAC (a 501(c)(3) charitable organization) has been voted New Jersey’s Favorite Small Performing Arts Center for the past six years. The venue hosts live performances, community events, and education programs for all ages and is home to Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances, Seton Hall University Theatre productions and The Village at SOPAC. SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.