A group gathers in front of the Bellevue Theatre just before its final show on Sunday night. NEIL GRABSOWSKY/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

It may not be fade to black for the Bellevue Theatre just yet. But that depends on a lot of “ifs.”

Angelo Cifelli, the attorney for theater owner Jesse Y. Sayegh, said Tuesday that his office had received inquiries from movie theater operators expressing a potential interest in the theater. He said that he had scheduled meetings with some of those operators over the next few weeks.

Bow Tie Cinemas, the theater’s most recent operator, announced last week that their lease on the theater had run out. However, in an interview last week, Cifelli indicated that it had been Bow Tie’s choice not to renew the lease.

Bow Tie intends to remove all of the theater’s fixtures, including projection equipment. The lease officially runs out on Nov. 30, Cifelli said, so Bow Tie has until that time to remove the equipment.

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The prospect of the theater’s fixtures being removed had been viewed as a potential obstacle to the Bellevue continuing to run as a theater.

However, depending on the outcome of talks with other movie theater operators – which may include negotiations on keeping the equipment in place – Cifelli said, Sayegh may grant Bow Tie a two-week extension on the lease’s last day. He noted that some of the operators that had reached out to his office have some contacts within Bow Tie.

Cifelli said that he had been “pleasantly surprised” to learn that for some of the other operators that had been in touch with him, the absence of equipment in the theater would not necessarily be an obstacle.

“We’re hopeful,” Cifelli said of the proceedings, and reiterated that his client was committed to doing whatever was possible to keeping the Bellevue functioning as a movie theater.

“He’s open to any and all avenues,” he said.

The news of the Bellevue’s closing prompted mass public outcry, including a Change.org petition that had garnered close to 5,000 signatures as of Tuesday, and a small protest outside the theater on Sunday, its last night of operation.

Ilmar Vanderer started a Facebook page called “Save Montclair’s Historic Bellevue Theatre.” As of Tuesday, the page had accrued 237 likes. Other groups in town, such as the Montclair History Center and the Friends of Anderson Park posted messages to their social media accounts mourning the theater’s impending closing.

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