Background photo by Don Sylor
Ron Wilson

What brought me to the Cape Cinema originally was The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was full of young kids. That same audience is still going to theatres.

I worked a summer job at the cinema for this guy Mel Safner. He had basically retired on the Cape and ran the cinema for eight weeks in the summer time. He asked me one day if I would be interested in buying the business. He said if you take over the loan with the concessionaire, you can have it. So I bought the business from him for $2,500 in 1985.
I continued to use George Mansour, who bought film for Mel, and we became very close friends. I guess George would be my mentor in the film business—I learned everything from him. And the theatre gradually became successful over the years. We’re certainly one of the most successful single-screen theatres in the country.
We’re always looking for unusual films. I go to film festivals like the Toronto International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. George works as a consultant for the Angelika Theatre in New York. We view upwards of 300 films a year, and we probably show between 60 and 70 films a year at the theatre.

There are a number of different communities within Dennis. There’s the village community along Route 6A. There’s a retired, upscale community here and in West Dennis. There’s Dennisport, an area that’s more working class and has a large cottage community. It’s a very complex place to find the happy medium in terms of the needs of the town—the needs are very broad and diverse.

There’s a really good spirit in the town, a lot of real positivity, and that reflects in the numbers of people who have moved to Dennis. There’s a large retirement community, and that really plays into the support of this theatre. Older age groups see this theatre, the museum next door, and the playhouse as local destinations. And they’ve embraced them.

The cinema is a special place, and I want to bring that experience to more people. Whatever that experience might be—it might be to host a town meeting, a church service, a film or a live concert. But if it brings people here and makes them believe in this place, they’ll make sure this building survives long after I’m gone. I really love this place and that’s all I can say. It’s my home.

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Jeff is the Managing Editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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Street View, West Dennis, Mass

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