Maryland's Only Black-Owned Movie Theater Is Garnering Nationwide Attention
Next Act Cinema is attracting national crowds for its posh aesthetic and intimate atmosphere.
The only Black-owned movie theater in Maryland is attracting crowds nationwide and for good reason.
HuffPost reports Anthony Fykes and Robert Wright opened the only Black-owned movie theater in all of Maryland on March 7. At the time of the theater's opening, the co-owners didn't know how important their love for cinema would be for movie-goers.
#GrandOpening #RibbonCutting Welcome to town #NextActCinema! First black owned theater in #Baltimore! Two theaters with 42 luxurious leather seats! #ReserveToday https://t.co/yXAWR5ufP1 pic.twitter.com/jsPux6bHkP— CITYpeekBalt (@CITYpeekBalt) March 27, 2019
The Next Act Cinema theater is a renovated version of the previous Pikes Theater. The suburban establishment was completely gutted and made anew.
The film space is advertised as an "independent boutique theater that offers a unique, personalized movie-going experience." Black Business details the establishment as posh with an intimate atmosphere. The theater is home to 86 brand-new all-leather seats in two separate theaters with large screens and surround sound. Next Act Cinema also provides movie-goers the ability to order popcorn, drinks or a full meal from your seat.
Additionally, the bar is reportedly even more expansive, featuring beer, wine, soups, sandwiches, pizza, salads, seafood and much more.
The news of their historic accomplishment spread online and resulted in an uptick in interest across the country. The establishment has been receiving both great support and enthralling reviews.
#NextActCinema in #Baltimore was a welcomed treat! My server, Michelle was especially welcoming. It’s black owned and for the culture 4real. Imagine going to see a movie with ALL your favorite cousins. It was a great experience. Can’t wait to go again!— Passa Ja❌ (@passajax) March 30, 2019
Packed up the car and drove a whole hr to support the new, Black-owned #NextActCinema movie theater in Pikesville, Md.— Ayanna Smith (@dcpublicist) March 24, 2019
A bar, restaurant & movie theater with reclining leather seats & swivel food trays with wait service.
Best way to see #CaptainMarvel!https://t.co/sLQ2uIp1Yt pic.twitter.com/9IueRdu3Kx
What a thrill to meet with one of the Co-Founders of the new Next Act Movie Cinema in Pikesville, MD. Congratulations to business partners #AnthonyFykes #RobertWright for thinking outside of the box! 🎥 🍿 pic.twitter.com/rqB9uHiing— Nicole Kirby (@nkirby) April 2, 2019
”I’ve gotten emails from Texas, from Chicago, from South Carolina, from California,” Fykes told reporters. “The support has been very humbling for us because we didn’t know that what we were doing could have such a social impact.”
Fykes, 38, and Wright, 41, met as coworkers at a medical management company years ago and have remained friends. Sharing their deep-seated interest in film and cinema a few years ago, the partners came up with the idea when Wright invited his friend over to his home theater where he regularly hosted major sports events, show premieres and movies. He expressed that he wanted to recreate the space so many of his close confidants could enjoy, and the two decided to venture on the new business together.
While studies have shown that Black Americans' viewership at movie theaters have risen by nearly 3 million in just three years -- likely due to movements that have resulted in more representation -- Black communities remain to see little to no theaters available in their communities at all. Still, Black-owned theatres have been successful in America for centuries, and it seems the tides are ready to turn again.
Maryland’s Only Black-Owned Movie Theater Draws Crowds From Across The Country -— effinfun (@effinfun) April 20, 2019
When Anthony Fykes and Robert Wright met, they immediately connected through their love for movies. But the pair never imagined that a shared passion for cinema would lead them to open their own ... pic.twitter.com/frXdBh2YDC
“Robert and I realize that we’re standing on the shoulders of other people that have been here before us,” Fykes added. “But along with that, we are also standing side by side, holding hands with others that are here now.”
He also recalled one recent response online that touched on the power of their creation and impetus for such enthralled rallying for viewer participation.
“There was a comment from a customer that said, ‘At NextAct Cinema in Pikesville, Maryland: Us watching 'Us' inside of Us,’" Fykes recollected. "That comment right there resonated with me because we hadn’t thought about it in that way. We didn’t know what we were doing could have such an impact.”
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