[Note: Read our first interview with Bow Tie Cinema’s Ben Moss here.] Every movie theater launch needs an orchestrator. Bow Tie Cinemas has Joe Masher, their chief operating officer, handling that role in the launch of their latest theater, Richmond’s 17-screen Movieland. “This is the biggest move theater we’ve ever built,” Masher said in an interview this […]
Every movie theater launch needs an orchestrator. Bow Tie Cinemas has Joe Masher, their chief operating officer, handling that role in the launch of their latest theater, Richmond’s 17-screen Movieland.
“This is the biggest move theater we’ve ever built,” Masher said in an interview this afternoon. “We’ve acquired theaters this big, but never built one. That in and of itself is very exciting.”
Exactly the sort of thing you might expect from a self-described movie theater geek.
Masher started his love affair with movies at the age of 11 in a very “Cinema Paradiso” experience.
“My family had a summer house in Vermont on a lake,” he recalled. There was a campground nearby that showed old 35mm films, operated by an old man named Stan. “I hung out with old Stan that summer, and I got to rewind all the movies by hand.”
Stan died that winter, and Masher found himself operating the campground cinema the next summer. He’s been working in movie theaters ever since, and joined Bow Tie Cinemas four years ago.
Masher enjoys movies, but it’s the buildings and their history that really wake him up in the mornings.
“I love theaters. I love the history of theaters, of the Moss family and Bow Tie,” he said. And that’s made his three years of visits to Richmond all the more interesting. Masher said he’s spent hours watching movies at the Byrd, and admiring the architecture of Richmond’s older theater structures — like the Hippodrome in Jackson Ward and the old Robinson Theater in Church Hill.
Although old theater houses have helped wake him up in the morning, Masher said there really hasn’t been much about the Richmond project that has kept him up at night.
“Actually, it’s been a very smooth ride, though it’s been a long process,” he said. “We’ve been working on this for three years now.”
The results will be seen by Richmonders in February. Movieland, a 17-screen theater on North Boulevard, officially opens on February 27. The theater will hold approximately 3,000 seats, there will be Dolby digital in every house, and two screens will feature 3D technology.
In addition to new releases out on the 27th — “Street Fighter” and the new Jonas Brothers film both open that day — Masher said other likely screenings include “The Pink Panther 2” with Steve Martin and the new espionage thriller “The International.”
“We will also run our first “Movies and Mimosas” event that weekend,” Masher said. (More details on Bow Ties signature Sunday morning event can be found here.) “It’s a program of classic films. We open the doors at 10:30 a.m. and serve mimosas. I believe the opening weekend screening will be “Gone with the Wind”.”
On opening night, Movieland will also kick off another Bow Tie favorite — Insomnia Theater. Masher acknowledges that the midnight features will be familiar to Richmonders who used to trek out to the Ridge Cinema’s for Ray Bentley’s Midnight Movies — and says that regular showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (minus the thrown hot dogs and toast) will be in the mix.