Images Cinema in Williamstown, Massachusetts celebrated its 100th year of continuous operation last year—one of the longest reigns off all theaters in the world. (Jim Levulis, Midday Magazine 2/6/16)
Images’ website says it’s “…a community movie theater [that] presents a wide range of independent, foreign and classic films which impact filmmaking and our culture…dedicated to the exploration of film as an art form, a source of entertainment and an educational tool.”
Its home, a brick building built in 1857, served as a fraternity house for nearby Williams College. In 1916 Hiram Walden converted it into the 400-seat Walden Theater. With the college nearby, the cinema “…brought Williamstown Berkshire County’s reputation for world-class culture.” It should be noted that the local Opera House, the Mohawk Theater in nearby North Adams, Massachusetts and the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield fell into decline while Images survived 80 years longer. (They have since been restored.)
Looking into Images’ history, it was found that after it opened, there wasn’t a need for advertising to movie-goers because the silent films, accompanied by live music, were such a novelty at the time. The late ‘20s brought talkies. “The theater changed hands and names a few times, including being called College Cinema and the Nickelodeon before it became Images Cinema in 1977.” (Phyllis McGuire, iBerkshires 6/1/16)
Times were tough for movie theaters in the late ‘80s. Christopher Reeve, who had been an apprentice for the Williamstown Theatre Festival at age 15 in the late 1960s, moved to the town after starring in a play following the completion of Superman II. He led an effort to support the historic cinema.
In 1998 Images Cinema’s owner made plans to sell it. The community rose to the occasion and helped transform it into a non-profit, 150-seat single-screen art house. Renovations eventually brought comfortable seating, lights, sound system, an expanded lobby and state-of-the-art digital projection.
Like all art house cinemas, Images Cinema films are not financed by major Hollywood studios. When looking for another source of revenue they made the wise decision to utilize Diamond Ticketing’s “Diamond Donate” program. It allows donors to easily support the theater with online contributions. Patrons can purchase tickets online through Images’ website, also provided by Diamond Ticketing. For its POS system, Images chose the most comprehensive program in the non-profit movie theater industry–Art House Cinema Solutions.
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