Wayne Post
  • The show must go on

  • DiNoto and his parents, Ann Marie DiNoto and Joseph Romeo, bought the theater from Fairport residents Richard and Kristin Anderson about a month ago. The Andersons had owned it for just over two years.

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  • Popcorn dotted the carpeted aisles. A dozen or so soda cups were strewn on the floor between the rows of seats. The lobby trash cans were full.
    But the needed clean-up was the least of the problems in the Canaltown Cinema movie theater this past Saturday afternoon.
    The first showing a new kid flick, “Wreck it Ralph,” that afternoon revealed big trouble: A tiny scratch on the film reel caused a line to appear on the big screen for the last 20 minutes of the film. And the sound was marred by intermittent static.
    A.J. DiNoto had just that morning gloated that his first few weeks as the Macedon theater’s new owner had been seamless. It hadn’t been easy putting in long hours between the theater, his other full time job at a bank, and his home in Gates, but it was manageable and, until now, there were no problems.
    “It’s usually much smoother than this,” said DiNoto’s sister Jennifer, apologetically, as she wondered aloud how to proceed.
    At first her brother decided to close the theater until a new film reel arrived. He taped handwritten note to the outside door. He updated the theater’s facebook page.
    But he couldn’t stop worrying about the disappointed children. Open just a few weeks, he didn’t want to make a bad impression.
    The sign was up but a few minutes when DiNoto ordered it removed. With encouragement from Jennifer, and a few friends who’d come to help out that day, DiNoto decided the show must go on. Moviegoers were warned about the problem and offered tickets for the discounted price of $2.
    DiNoto jumped into action in the projection room, while sister and friends cleaned up, greeted guests and served up concessions.
    After the day‘s second showing of “Wreck it Ralph” none of the kids or their grown-up dates seemed fazed by the line or the static. And the whole ordeal showed DiNoto just how devoted his family and friends are to helping him succeed.
    DiNoto and his parents, Ann Marie DiNoto and Joseph Romeo, bought the theater from Fairport residents Richard and Kristin Anderson about a month ago. The Andersons had owned it for just over two years.
    Opened in the early 1970s, the theater was owned for many years by the Kommer and Courtney families. In 2006 they turned over ownership to Harry and Tammy Parks.
    Still known to many by its longtime former name, West Wayne Theater, it is among the last of its kind amid movie megaplexes like Regal and Tinseltown. It has just one screen and an old-style film projector is still used.
    The mom-and-pop vibe that has helped the theater survive over the years. Patrons can still buy a ticket and popcorn for under $10. There are booster seats for the little ones. Before most every show one of the owners gives a welcome greeting and cell phone warning in front of the screen. And, applause at the end is customary.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I like the fact that the person checking me in is the same person starting the film reel,” said Tim Denniston, who brought his three youngsters to “Wreck it Ralph“ Saturday. “There‘s just something about that.”
    DiNoto lives with his parents in Gates. Ann Marie and Joseph own a Laundromat; the theater is their son’s first entrepreneurial endeavor. He worked up the ranks at two large chain theaters in Monroe County, eventually becoming manager.
    “I found an ad about a year ago on Craigslist from the Andersons,” said DiNoto. “At the time we were really interested (in buying). I know the business -- I’ve been in it for a while.”
    But the sale didn’t happen until the price came down. While his parents are using their business ownership know-how, DiNoto is relying on his experience in the big theaters. They’ve decided to keep the theater open every day, weather-permitting, of course. And, they are adding more concessions like nachos, pizza and hot dogs.
    But the biggest change with be the addition of a digital movie projector. They’ve got no choice: The old-style film won’t be available for first-run movies by the end of next year, said DiNoto. He plans to take advantage of a rebate program to help pay for the roughly $50,000 digital equipment.
    DiNoto said the community has been supportive.
    “So far everyone has been welcoming us,” he said. “We’ve had very positive feedback. Knock on wood, people will still show up.”

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