ASBURY PARK, NJ -- This week’s episode of HomeGrown: Asbury Park features a conversation with the owners of The ShowRoom Cinema, an independent movie house in town. When owners Michael Sodano and Nancy Sabino opened ShowRoom in 2009, there were no movie theaters in Asbury Park.
“We couldn’t understand how a town that was so arts and culture-centric had no cinema,” said Sodano.
The ShowRoom Cinema expanded to their current location in 2012, housing three theaters, and they acquired a classic movie house from the 1920s in Bradley Beach, which opened as a second branch of ShowRoom earlier this year. The movies they show range from blockbusters to small, independent films.
Their movie concession stand features treats made in town, and they frequently partner with local restaurants for “dinner and a movie” specials. “One of the things we tried to do was really make the cinema a member of the community,” said Sodano. In addition to showing films, the theater hosts community meetings and events.
“The town has been very good to us,” said Sabino. “It’s good to be part of this community. You have a vested interest in making things work.”
Because they are independent and local, the cinema is able to meet the specific needs of their clientele. For example, they show a regular horror film series on Sunday mornings, aptly titled “Horror Church” due to that timing.
“I can’t tell you the amount of recommendations and referrals and requests that we get from guests. Not only do we have our finger on the curatorial button, so to speak, but our guests do as well,” said Sodano.
“While people tend to focus on the music aspect,” Sodano commented, describing the town of Asbury Park, “it’s totally broadened out culturally into film and art and photography. It truly has something for everyone and that diversity is its hallmark.”
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