A partnership between The Mill, The Kitchen and The Grand brings fresh energy to the independent theater
Theatre N has new life and new management. The arthouse cinema, reopened in October, will feature independent films every weekend and classic cinema events throughout the year. For the first time since its founding in 2002, the theater, located in the Buccini/Pollin Group-owned Nemours Building in downtown Wilmington, is no longer managed by the mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
Early this year, concerns about the theater organization and its future led to action. Robert Herrera, founder of the community-driven workspace The Mill—and the theater’s upstairs neighbor in the Nemours Building—approached BPG and Zach Phillips, filmmaker and founder of The Kitchen, about possibilities for the theater’s future. From there, a new vision was developed.
Herrera and Phillips joined forces with members of The Grand. That included Beverly Zimmerman, the original theater manager during its most successful years—2002-2013—as well as Bob Weir, a seasoned projectionist and the technical director at The Playhouse on Rodney Square, and Mark Fields, executive director of The Grand and The Playhouse.
“If anybody can revive the theater, it’s the team we have now,” says Herrera. “This is the second coming of the Theatre N.”
The partnership focuses on targeting a young entrepreneurial demographic, expanding to special events, TED Talks and more. One feature of the new system is that the team will now have access to films from every independent studio, not just a limited subset, which was the case previously. Zimmerman will once again take over the film schedule.
The 221-seat theater is undergoing renovation, including a new, state-of-the art projector, and a custom-built concession area designed by Herrera.
“Neighborhood movie theaters are an important feature of any modern city, and as the film industry rapidly changes we think independent cinema will have a growing role,” says Phillips. “Our plan for Theatre N isn’t just to be Wilmington’s indie theater. We want to be a leader in the re-imagination of what an independent theater can be, and make Theatre N a cinema destination in the region.”