Hatchville Man Hopes to Keep Regal Nickelodeon Cinemas in Town
By: Brent Runyon
The Regal Nickelodeon Cinemas on Route 151 has been for sale with the restriction that the buyer cannot continue to use it as a movie theater, but that restriction has now been revised. Listing broker James Vaccaro said Regal changed the no movie theater restriction two weeks ago and will now allow a buyer to show art films.
“It’s possible that it could be used for art films, but not for commercial Hollywood-type blockbuster films,” he said.
The change is good news for John M. Tudor of Coonamessett Circle, Hatchville. Mr. Tudor, a retired physician, is hoping to keep the Nickelodeon an art house cinema and is leading a grassroots effort to keep documentaries, foreign and independent films on the big screen.
The Nickelodeon has shown foreign films, documentaries, and independent films since it opened in 1974.
Dr. Tudor said he would prefer that the Nickelodeon remain a movie theater under Regal. He will make a presentation to the Falmouth Economic Development Industrial Corporation on Tuesday at 9 AM at the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce on Academy Lane to seek support for that goal.
Another company or group taking over the Nickelodeon is “option number three or four,” he said. He hopes Regal will continue running the theater, because the company is best qualified to run it well, he said. “But I’ll do whichever option works,” he said.
The theater provides Upper Cape residents with a chance to see movies that are not playing anywhere else nearby, he said.
“It’s a unique resource for the community,” he said.
Dr. Tudor said he sees films at the Nickelodeon about once a month, and is committed to keeping the theater open, but is not interested in taking it over himself. “I’m 'retired' retired,” he said.
If the Nickelodeon is sold, Mr. Vaccaro said it could be converted to other commercial and business uses.
“It needs to be some kind of destination use,” he said, since it is surrounded by conservation land with no other businesses within several miles.
In the past, there have been groups interested in purchasing the property as an ice arena, a water park, a church, a food service establishment, apartment houses, and an office complex.
“It’s business zoned and there’s three acres of land, but it’s in a water recharge area so you can’t store any chemicals or petroleum products there,” he said. Any change of use would require a new special permit from the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals.
Did You Know?
The Nickelodeon theater opened in 1974 with one screen. The first movie shown there was the Charlie Chaplin classic "Gold Rush."
Only six people attended the theater's opening night which may have been a good thing as it was missing the beginning and final reels. Only the middle reels of the film were sent to the theater.
The three-acre property including the 9,600-square-foot building and parking is for sale for $600,000, down from $900,000 when it was first listed. The property is for sale “as-is, where-is” according to the listing.
Hutker Architects of Falmouth entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Regal to renovate the building into office space and construct a new multifamily residence, but terminated the agreement in December, Mr. Vaccaro said.
Regal bought the Nickelodeon in 2003 from the Hoyt Cinema Corporation, along with the Mashpee Commons and Cape Cod Mall Cinemas.
The theater chain has experienced a loss of business due to increasing competition from home video sales, on-demand movies through cable and satellite TV service providers, and streaming movies through services, such as Netflix.
The films currently playing at the Nickelodeon are “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “The Descendants,” “Young Adult,” “My Week With Marilyn,” and “J. Edgar.”
Attempts to contact Regal's corporate offices were unsuccessful.
Correction: January 13, 2012
This article has been revised, omitting incorrect information regarding the Regal Cinemas and the company’s plans. The Knoxville, Tennessee, based company operates 527 theaters in 37 states and Washington D.C., and does not have plans to close 30 percent of those theaters as previously reported.