Get to Know the Cape Cinema
The Cape Cinema has been one the premier destinations for entertainment on Cape Cod since 1930 and continues to be committed remaining such. While most of the website features upcoming events ranging from movies and theatrical performances to concerts and the ballet, this page can fill you in on some of the building history.
The Cape Cinema has been entertaining locals of Dennis and the rest of Cape Cod, Massachusetts for nearly one hundred years. The building was constructed in 1930 and founded by Edna Tweeny and Raymond Moore just a couple years after the Cape Playhouse. The exterior of the cinema often confuses new guests who ask us how long the building has been a theater and when it stopped being a church. To the surprise of many, the building has always been a cinema. However, it was designed by Alfred Easton Poor who modeled it after the South Congregational Church which is located in Centerville, just a few towns over. Eric Hart purchased the Cape Cinema business in 1985 and oversaw its operations for 35 years, screening premium art house films, simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre, and even began hosting live music performances in 2008.
INSIDE THE THEATER
In 1930, Raymond Moore and Edna Tweedy commissioned American painter and illustrator Rockwell Kent to design a 6,400-square-foot mural for the auditorium's ceiling, featuring a representation of the heavens and constellations. Kent’s collaborator, set designer Jo Mielziner, and a crew of set painters in New York City worked in oil on strips of canvas, and then transported and installed the canvas after it was painted. Kent and Mielziner’s signatures can be found on the lower part of the mural, one on either side of the building. Kent himself was largely against coming back to Massachusetts for personal reasons but did spend a few days directing its installation and came back years later to add his signature to the mural. In 1981 the murals got some restoration from conservators from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Sadly, the murals are approaching the need for further restoration efforts.
In addition to the original murals, much of the cinema has undergone various upgrades and restorations. This includes the addition of a digital projector, upgraded sound system, accessibility options, a revamped lobby area, box office, and a new concessions stand. Most impressive is the recent work we have managed to do on the theater interior. Fresh carpet and track lighting to go with the major project were completed in August, 2017. 311 seats are available for seating and they are all restored from the originals which were built by the Frankl Galleries in New York. Most recently we invested over $20,000.00 in a new hospital grade MERV air filtration system for our auditorium. In the age of Covid-19 we want to ensure our patrons are provided with the cleanest air and most sterile conditions for a more comfortable theatre going experience.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Special within our history is the premiere of the Wizard of Oz in 1939. It is difficult for many to believe but we proudly hold a poster from one of the anniversaries of that premier in our lobby, right above the Box Office. Part of the difficulty is the conflicting information you may find online. Our premiere of the show took place on August 11th, 1939 which was one day previous to the technical world premiere. As one of three test markets, we played the film before anyone else and feature a showing every year on its anniversary. The east coast time zone made it possible for us to show a test screening before the Midwest and West Coast markets. For those wondering, Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) was engaged at the Cape Playhouse at the time and arranged for the showing on Cape Cod, far away from the other test markets in Wisconsin. Every year on August 11th we screen the Wizard of Oz in 35mm in commemoration of the film’s world premiere at the Cape Cinema.