A funky little venue best known as a onetime home to midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the once-forsaken Roxy is showing motion pictures again at its double-storefront home at
The Roxy's second act has not come cheaply or easily, despite its diminutive footprint. Just a half-block from the mothballed
"The project cost considerably more than any of us had projected," said landlord-architect
"Everything just took more time than we anticipated. ... We had hoped to be open" on
Ciccone and Greenblatt originally banked on a
"Sincerely, I hope it's going to succeed," Ciccone said. "It's a very large risk on everybody's part, and I hope the community realizes the passion and the risk that is being taken in order to make this a success."
The Roxy reopened to the public on
A rear wall was reconstructed, a crumbling front wall repaired to historic specifications, the roof redone, floors excavated and lowered, and projection booths moved.
For a venue charging
But the Roxy had been on life support for years.
"I never understood why my neighbors in
For years, theater viewing of films had waned in favor of digital downloads and on-demand TV. Then,
So when Nearey's lease ended in late 2012, Ciccone replaced him with the film society as tenant-operator.
The film society placed in charge of the renovation
"Back then," Cain said, "there was more government money to be had."
Cain was hired as development director as Greenblatt revamped the troubled film society's operations. In fact, when the Roxy redo began, the society had just begun to turn a profit.
But raising money was hard. The poor economy meant government aid was no longer a ready resource.
"I did a lot of praying," Cain said.
But the Roxy was a worthy risk to Greenblatt. His
Cain launched a campaign through the online fundraising site Kickstarter that netted
As crews dug into the Roxy's guts and bones, optimism gave way to shock.
Workers uncovered layers of wallpaper. Rings were found in a brick party wall. Had these been homes? A stable?
"It was a real mess," Cain said.
Water leaks into the screening rooms also had caused extensive damage.
"Pretty much all the ceiling beams to the front of the building were replaced," Cain said.
To make the Roxy attractive to modern-day film viewers, one of its floors would have to be lowered, a ceiling raised, larger screens put in -- the list seemed endless.
Ciccone had hoped to be in and out with an investment of
Instead, costs were spiraling.
"There came a point where we had to decide if we were going all in and doing it right," Cain said.
The verdict: "We decided we had to enlarge the scope of the program," said Ciccone. How would the Roxy attract enough customers otherwise?
Ciccone, who had already given the film society a lease at a "very reasonable rent rate," according to Greenblatt, was now in even deeper.
"John has been a tremendous partner throughout the entire process," Greenblatt said.
Among the good surprises, however, was Bluver.
A successful businessman with fond memories of
"I've been very sad to see the decline over the years of movie theaters in
He was intrigued that the Roxy's Kickstarter campaign had drawn donations beyond the film society's 1,000-member base.
"I contacted them and said I'd be interested," Bluver said.
Also a help was board member
The first few weeks after it reopened with Saving Mr. Banks, the Roxy sold out every prime time weekend show.
"I was extremely impressed," Bluver said. "Every single seat was full, which showed there was a need for this type of theater."
But success is not assured. The return of midnight screenings, along with weekend children's films, are among ideas to beef up attendance. An additional
And yet, said Cain: "We're almost there."
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