Don’t let the Salem Cinema fall on hard times

Here is a must-read open letter recently sent by Salem Cinema owner Loretta Miles to the members of her e-list. I had heard from a friend that there were problems brewing there and was sad to see them confirmed in today’s inbox.

I hope that more people in Salem will take notice and spend some money watching great films in addition to paying for cheap burgers.

Dear patrons, friends, movie lovers and fans of Salem Cinema;

Independent movie theaters, especially those like Salem Cinema specializing in art, foreign and independent film, are on the endangered species list. We do not have corporate money to see us through hard times and there is no fall back, other than to rely upon those who most appreciate our contributions to the communities that we enrich. We are a dying breed; Salem Cinema is not immune and, in fact, is currently at risk. The economic downturn could not have come at a more inopportune time than it did…as you recall, my beautiful new theater, built as much upon your wishes as my dreams, opened just 6 months after the great Wall Street collapse.

The film industry is down in general this summer, a time that film exhibitors like myself usually count on to see us through the slower months to come, and unfortunately once we lose that momentum it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain enough cash flow to cover our ever increasing cost of operation. The large chains compensate, in part, by continuing to raise prices. I, however, understand that the continuing sluggish economy has affected each and everyone of us and have not raised my prices in nearly 3 years. I have assumed that by showing you that I care about your pocket books that you, in turn, would continue to find value and worth in supporting Salem Cinema.

Unfortunately, this has not proven to be the case of late and it is with much sadness in my heart that I reach out to you, my loyal supporters, and ask that you step forward and become Salem Cinema’s guardians and emissaries. I am struggling. I know you love my theater, I know you appreciate my film selections but if Salem Cinema’s destiny is not to be the same as that of our once beloved Jackson’s Bookstore I need to see you more often.

Last Friday, after a conversation following the movie, one of my wonderful patrons posted the following on his blog. His loyalty not only brought tears to my eyes but made me realize that I could not have said it better myself. Please read what John, who now will always have a special place in my heart, had to say. I hope that you, too, will take this to heart and share it with others:

A Movie a Week: Expand Your World and Maintain Salem’s Best Cultural Feature

You already know that I love what I do. We both know you love movies and the magical escape they offer. Only with your contributions and support will I make through this crisis and be allowed to continue to enhance to your life one captivating movie moment after the next. I need you now more than ever.

Gratefully Yours,


9 Responses to “Don’t let the Salem Cinema fall on hard times”

  1. Paige Says:

    Oh no! We love Salem Cinema. It took us a long time after moving from Portland to Dallas to find it but we did and were so glad. We definitely don’t go there enough, but will try to do better.

    I’ll post this to my Facebook for the very few of my friends who are in and around Salem. I need more Salem friends down here!

  2. Emily Grosvenor Says:

    Thanks for reposting, Paige; the more who read it, the better!

  3. Cindy Says:

    Thanks for the great post, Emily. I will get the word out on Facebook and on my blog too. I had no idea Loretta was struggling that much. Of course, I should have known because on my recent visits the theater hasn’t has a lot of patrons.

    • Emily Grosvenor Says:

      Well, you can thank LOVESalem for bringing it to my attention, and Loretta herself for writing up the text. That makes it so much easier to cut and paste for the rest of us! Thanks for spreading the word.

  4. Loretta Miles Says:

    Dear Emily,

    Thank you so very much for posting my open letter.

    My theater is certainly not the only one struggling right now…just last Friday I was talking with a theater owner in Arizona and was told their circumstances are similar. There is nothing I can do to help them but there are things I can do for Salem Cinema and I know that sharing my fears and need for support is one of them. With you and all the others who have written this evening by my side, I feel hopeful we can stay afloat even as the economic tides continue to be unpredictable.

    I know Salem Cinema is of value to our community and I want you and the rest of our community to know that I, too, will do what it takes to keep this business viable. Thank you for allowing me to “feel the love!”

    Kind Regards,

  5. Rachel Says:

    When I lived in DC, a much-loved neighborhood theater closed due to financial difficulties. Several years later it was re-born as a nonprofit film center, offering memberships (to support operations), a wide range of films, events and related programming. Because of it’s wide educational mission, the group is able to secure foundation and gov’t funding. It’s an interesting model. More info about it here:

  6. Emily Grosvenor Says:

    Ah, the Avalon. I’ve had some good times there myself — but only with a shake at the nearby diner afterward. It’s a beautiful theater. Thanks Rachel, always bringing the wider perspective and the non-profit tips!

  7. Emily Grosvenor Says:

    By the way, talked to Loretta last night, who bemoaned the news gossip: So the Salem Cinema is going to close in a week and a half?! No, silly, it’s not. Ms. Miles has had the foresight to pre-empt closing with a plea to her audience. Smart lady.

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