After decades of entertaining their respective downtowns, the iconic Rialto Theater in Westfield and the Cranford Theatre in Cranford have been closed by their current operators, New Vision Theatres. In both towns, local officials and residents were left stunned by the sudden loss.
“A sad day in Cranford as the screening rooms are now dark,” posted @christinahinke on Instagram, “I spent many hours watching some of the most life affirming, life altering films inside here and in theatres such as this.”
“I never thought this day would come,” added @kthehl.
And while the shockwaves of the closures were still being felt across both towns, elected officials assured the communities of Westfield and Cranford that they are on the case.
“We are committed to working together, alongside the property owner, to get our theaters operational as soon as possible,” explained Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle in a Facebook post after coordinating with Cranford Mayor Patrick Giblin.
“I spoke to the owner extensively this afternoon,” posted Mayor Giblin after being made aware of the Cranford Theatre’s demise. “He also owns the Westfield Rialto property. He was unaware of plans for New Vision to close, but also indicated that he was not made aware of the Rialto closing.”
After closing, New Vision remained silent.
The closures were reportedly sparked by litigation between New Vision Theatres and the owner of both buildings, according to Mayor Brindle.
Some were quick to point out that both Theaters faced stiff competition from more modern venues in Mountainside and Watchung.
“Very sad, but, people ran to the Route 22 theaters,” concluded one Facebook comment on the Downtown Westfield Corporation page, “So sad to see so many empty storefronts.”
Until it’s resolved, locals are left to reminiscence about the past and hope for a happy, Hollywood ending.
Theater photos courtesy @kthehl and @paulosewski on Instagram.