Local filmmaker, game store owner planning to reopen town of Amsterdam’s Emerald Cinemas

Three people in front of movie theater

Misael Gomez, owner of Game Jungle, and Jeff Knite, president of Dark Knites entertainment, are planning to reopen the former Emerald Cinemas in the Perth Plaza

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TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — The theater experience has been missing from Amsterdam since the Emerald Cinemas closed over four years ago. An area filmmaker and a local business owner are now planning to reopen the shuttered movie house and combine their passions under one roof.

“I love movies,” said Jeff Knite, a local independent filmmaker and president of Dark Knites entertainment. “When you go to the theater something overtakes you, it’s like magic. It feels like you’re in another world.”

Lifelong friends Misael Gomez and Knite are partnering on the rapidly forming plans to reopen the 10-screen theater in the Perth Plaza on Route 30 as Dark Knites Cinemas. Gomez, owner of Game Jungle, also plans to move his video game shop from the city into a new space to be built in the cinema lobby.

The seed was planted just a few weeks ago when the duo found their individual daydreams could become a reality by working together. Knite had mused over ways to reopen the sorely missed theater. Gomez pondered moving his business to a more prominent area with ample parking.

“We’re feeling hopeful about it,” Gomez said. “I want to do this for the community very badly.”

The pair believes tapping into their individual areas of expertise to combine films and video games will create diverse profit streams and will mesh perfectly together with movie tie-in merchandise to be sold at the game store and an arcade to be re-established.

Terms to lease the existing space from property owner Perth Plaza Associates are still being finalized. Gomez and Knite have already had several meetings with contractors about options to refurbish the cinema and expand the in-house offerings.

Cleaning the theater will be perhaps the biggest task. Roof damage allowed water to enter the building and caused mildew in the cinema that has been closed since 2019. Building the shop space inside will be labor intensive. The theater screens, projectors and sound systems also need to be upgraded.

Readying the space could cost up to $1 million based on ballpark estimates. Full price quotes should be received within the coming weeks. Members of Knite’s family and his filmmaking partner, Paugh Shadow, are expected to join the venture to help see plans through.

Although they still need to secure financing, Gomez and Knite said they are committed to moving forward to bring the theater back to life to fill a void in the community.

“I would give everything to have that place back,” Gomez said. “People are asking for this, our kids have nowhere to go basically.”

The absence of a local theater has forced locals to watch movies at home or travel to theaters in surrounding counties. Emerald Cinemas was the only year-round movie theater in Montgomery County when it shut down.

“We’ve been streaming for the last few years, but it’s boring, you don’t get the same feeling sitting in your house watching a film, I don’t care how big your TV is,” Knite said. “It’s not the same as experiencing that in a theater with a bunch of strangers where you get that human feeling, that emotion.”

Beyond showing new releases, Knite said the theater will offer special screenings of older titles and independent productions from local filmmakers and students at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. He knows from experience how challenging it can be to break into the industry and wants to support other local artists.

“It’s even harder for people in the country to try to get their work out there or get some exposure when you’re not living in the five boroughs or California,” Knite said.

Knite is in post-production on his fifth feature length film, “The Omicron Killer,” which was shot in Amsterdam. He produced, directed and co-wrote the movie with Johnny Careccia and Shadow. The horror-suspense-thriller about a copycat serial killer on a rampage should be released around this time next year.

Although construction timelines will likely push the theater reopening into next year, Gomez and Knite have already received an outpouring of support from locals to boost their resolve after previewing their plans in a post on social media.

“Everybody out there wants this,” Knite said. “Going to the cinema is a different experience and I want everybody to experience that. I think people miss that.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, News

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