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.

Robery Wright Anthony Fykes of Next Act Cinema
Photo Credit: Twitter / @effinfun

| April 22 2019,

7:30 pm

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.

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.


”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.

“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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