Northampton’s Pleasant Street Theater to Shut Down June 8th

The Pleasant Street Theater, the last remaining first-run movie theater in downtown Northampton, announced Friday that it will close its doors for good on June 8th.The Pleasant Street has been a primary destination for art house film since the mid-1970’s. It closed once before in 2007, but was resurrected by the Amherst Cinema Arts Center, which has continued the theater’s operations since then. Amherst Cinema’s executive director Carol Johnson says the decision to close hinged on the theater’s cramped physical space and the cost of keeping the theater technologically up to date.

“Audiences expect good sight lines and a comfortable theatergoing environment, two things that the size and configuration of the Pleasant Street Theater make impossible. On top of that, that theater, which we rent, is not handicap accessible, and it can’t be made so because of space limitations.”

Northampton City Council President, Bill Dwight,  A video store clerk at the neighboring Pleasant Street Video until it closed last year, says he’s saddened by the loss of the city’s last movie theater. But, he adds that because of increasing availability of independent or foreign films on the Internet, it doesn’t mean a loss of access to art house films. 

“What it does mean is loss of curation. I mean, what theaters do is they’re essentially curators. They sift out films that they think the community would find enriching. You don’t have that anymore. Now it’s just sort of like a crap-shoot. You have to find your own way on the Internet. And I think we’ll miss that enormously, and I don’t think you can really replace that.”
Johnson says the future of the theater space is still uncertain. She says Amherst Cinema Arts Center will now focus its operations on its more spacious facility in Amherst. Special farewell screenings for the Pleasant Street are in the works for June 8th and will be announced at a later date.