DERRY -- As owners of the Derry Five Star Cinema prepare to sell the theater to a small Massachusetts-based cinema chain, the Derry cinema has closed its doors for the winter.

Managers at Derry Five Star Cinema said the business would be temporarily closed after its last 7 p.m. show on Wednesday. Starting Thursday, it will be closed pending the sale of the business and renovations to revamp the interior.

In late August, the theater posted a bulletin announcing the sale of the business to Apple Cinemas, which is a five-cinema chain headquartered in Walpole, Mass. The current owner of the Derry theater is the Belmont Capital Group.

At the time, general manager Shawn Heavey believed there would be no pause in operations, but that plan has since changed.

Apple Cinemas President Jegan Gomangalam told the Union Leader the cinema will be closed for the winter and reopen in spring of next year, after renovations and changes to the lobby and theater seating.

“It will be more modern like how you see other movie theaters,” Gomangalam said.

So far, the sale has not been completed, but Gomangalam hopes to have that signed in the next 30 to 60 days.

“It is still not finalized. We are still working on our agreement between the two parties,” Gomangalam said.

Ultimately, he said the plan will be to install luxury recliner seats, self-serve ticket kiosks and a bar with an expanded concession selection to include more hot foods and beer and wine, once the necessary permits are obtained.

Gomangalam said they also hope to expand the offerings of movies and include some Bollywood movies. He said they will launch a survey to get feedback from the community to hear what kinds of films moviegoers want to see.

While ticket pricing will be market rate based on the region, he said Apple Cinemas will be offering discounted rates on certain days, which he said is a popular feature at their other locations.

Every Tuesday, tickets will be $4.75. Tickets will also be priced that way for seniors and students on special days.

Apple Cinemas has four locations in Connecticut and one in Cambridge, Mass., with a total of 43 screens.

Derry’s cinema will add another 12 screens to their portfolio.

“This will be our first (cinema) in New Hampshire,” Gomangalam said.

The original bulletin posted by the business in August said the sale was to occur on Oct. 3, and that it would be a seamless transition with no closures.

Heavey, who has been general manager for the past 12 years, said all 14 employees of the cinema including himself will have to find new jobs until the cinema reopens in the spring.

He said any outstanding gift certificates can be reimbursed by BMC President Mike Benvenuto.

Multiple messages left with Benvenuto were not returned.

ldnews@unionleader.com

Sunday, October 20, 2019