Screen Saver: Nonprofit raises money to buy West Newton Cinema

With just a few weeks to spare, it seems the West Newton Cinema will be saved. The nonprofit that’s been trying to save the cinema now has the funds to buy it.

“On behalf of our Board and Advisors, I am excited to share with you that we are accomplishing what we set out to do, all with thanks to the extraordinary leadership and commitment from this community on behalf of the West Newton Cinema,” West Newton Cinema Foundation Board President Elizabeth Heilig wrote in an announcement Thursday night.

When Mark Development bought the property in 2022, that company set up a deal with the West Newton Cinema Foundation to let them buy the cinema if they could raise $5.6 million to buy it.

In April, an anonymous donor gave the organization $5.2 million, which included a $2 million match for future donations.

“To date, our community has come forward with great generosity and leadership, and we are very grateful,” Heilig continued. “We are so pleased to share that we have met our Phase I goal. In the coming weeks, we plan to purchase West Newton Cinema.”

That brings the West Newton Cinema effort to Phase 2, which involves renovating the cinema to incorporate film festivals, author events and other uses for the building in addition to the mainstream movies the cinema shows.

The plan is similar to that of Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, which is  a nonprofit cinema and cultural center bought by a real estate developer in the 1980s and leased to a nonprofit.

“Newton needs the Cinema for people to gather and connect—a place for all generations, from kids to seniors and everyone in between,” Heilig’s announcement reads.

In total, the effort has been trying to raise $14 million for purchase and renovation of the property, so getting to the purchase goal was only the beginning, and the group is asking for donations to keep their momentum going.