Bellevue Owner Wants To Save Theater, Says Bow Tie Cinemas Would Not Exercise Option to Renew

The Bellevue Theatre is not Jesse Sayegh’s first rodeo. Sayegh is the owner of the building at 268 Bellevue Avenue that houses the Bellevue Theatre, but before that, he also was the operator of the Bellevue Theatre (Sayegh operated the theater initially and then sold operations to Clearview). Sayegh has a long history of owning and or operating movie theaters in New Jersey and was credited with saving the Rialto in Westfield, purchasing it in 1997 from United Artists.

Sayegh’s attorney Angelo Cifelli, of Piro Zinna Cifell Paris & Genitempo in Nutley, says Sayegh has been trying again for months to reach an agreement with Bow Tie Cinemas.

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“Bow Tie’s lease didn’t just expire,” says Cifelli. “Bow Tie failed to exercise their option to renew.”

Bellevue Theatre, 1924. Photo: Friends of Anderson Park

According to Cifelli, Bow Tie chose not to exercise their option and they had two ten year options. “They wanted concessions on some other theaters my clients owns. He offered some that from his point of view were quite substantial, but Bow Tie was still not willing to renew.”

When Sayegh learned that they would not renew, Cifelli says he offered to pay Bow Tie to leave the seating and equipment in the theater, so it had a viable chance of remaining an movie theater, but was turned down.

“They [Bow Tie] are going to dismantle the theater,” says Cifelli. “They own the equipment. Once they dismantle that theater it’s almost impossible for a private entity to come in and take it over, because it would be so expensive.”

“My client has been negotiating with them for months to try and keep them there, but they were not going to stay with concessions at the other theaters,” says Cifelli, adding that Sayegh has been reaching out to other private theater operators without success. As far as his client knows, Cifelli says Bow Tie could be dismantling the theater very soon since the lease ends November 30.

Cifelli wonders why Bow Tie is dismantling, given that it would be hard to repurpose the contents of the theater. “They are going to get 10 cents on the dollor on all the stuff they pull out,” says Cifelli, plus the expense of ripping it out.

Despite the fact that Bow Tie told his client they weren’t making money, Cifelli says Sayegh believes if Bow Tie left the equipment/seating, someone could be found to operate the theater so it could run and be successful.

Cifelli adds his client would be amenable to hearing from someone in the township or from the Montclair Film Festival to try and come up with an alternative to the current situation.

Read more about action from readers, Mayor to Bellevue closing and history of the Bellevue

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  1. Seems like a negotiating tactic by Bow Tie. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come to an agreement in the next couple days to extend the lease.

  2. Sad. Let’s hope that this is not its “Last Tango.” One of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in town. Valentino, Garbo, Keaton must have played there.

  3. What are the economic factors in operating a movie theater? What is the rent? With 7 days a week, 3-4 screens, seating how many? Aren’t films rented at a percentage of the gross ticket sales? At the mercy of the public’s interest in the movie producers’ products where can screen owner be creative? What do ticket prices have to be to make any money? Could you make money with a Saturday program of classics beginning at 10 AM…. Wizard of Oz, Wonderful Life, Gone with the WInd, Star Wars etc. Or is there no availability of titles in the format of today’s equipment. I’d like to know more about how the business operates. Is attendance off with large screen home TV and Netflix up the interest? Is it even possible for a small operation to compete with 10 screen multi-plexes?

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