Not long ago, the Chelsea Theater at the Timberlyne Shopping Center was close to shutting down
. Its former owner, John Stone, retired earlier this year, and at first it was unclear whether anyone would take over. That’s when several community members stepped up to take over the theater and run it as a non-profit community theater.
To revitalize the Chelsea and appeal to a broader audience, the theater is introducing a new film series — Late Nights at the Chelsea . Every Friday night the Chelsea will play a music-related film at 9:30 p.m. as a part of Friday Music Mojo , and every Saturday at 9:30 p.m. it will show a horror film as a part of Saturday Fright Night. Mark Barroso, a board member of the Chelsea Theater, said the idea to do a music-film series came from the need to attract audiences late at night.
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Johnny’s here tonight at the #chelseatheaternc to kick off #saturdaynightfright series with #stanleykubrick #theshining Show starts at 9:45pm! #movietheater #horror #horrormovies #horrorstories #stephenking #horrorfilm #heresjohnny #chapelhill #carrboro #durham #trianglenc
Barroso said theaters across the country are having trouble attracting viewers for later shows, and he figured music would appeal to late night audiences. For Barroso, however, the music film series means a little more.
“Well I’ve always love, loved concert films and films about my favorite bands and also bands I’ve never heard about," Barroso said. "I think they’re a hoot.”
Braden Stone , son of the theater’s former owner and operations manager at the Chelsea, said the staff of the Chelsea has long been interested in having a series of horror films at their theater, as many of them are fans of the genre. However, Stone explained why he feels the horror label is somewhat misleading in this case.
“I hate saying horror because it’s not — it’s more psychological horror than it is slasher-flicky type stuff.” Stone said.
Late Nights at the Chelsea kicked off its first weekend with “Stop Making Sense” on Sept. 21, and “The Shining” on Sept. 22. The series will run through Nov. 24, ending with “The Last Waltz ” and “The Strangers” in its last weekend. Other well-known titles in the series are “The Exorcist ,” “Poltergeist ” and “Purple Rain .”
Emily Kass , the theater’s director and former director of the Ackland Art Museum, said the Chelsea normally shows very different films from those featured in its new series. “We show independent, arthouse films, so many of the films that you aren’t going to see in other places, but great films," Kass said. "Many of them are going to be your Oscar contenders, just really an unusual repertoire.”
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TONIGHT! The #chelseatheaternc kicks off #fridaymusicmojo with #jonathandemme and #talkingheads #stopmakingsense Starts at 9:30pm. #music #film #movies #movietheater #carrboro #chapelhill #durham #trianglenc
The Chelsea’s new management hopes the theater’s new film series will breathe new life into what Emily Kass feels is an important part of the Triangle area.
“A group of people got together and just decided that this theater is too important to the community," Kass said. "Too many people really want to keep this going. We don’t want to lose these films coming to Chapel Hill . I mean, we really serve Orange County , Durham , Hillsborou gh. We have people who come from Mebane, from Burlington. You’d be amazed how far people come.”