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Pikesville's Black-owned movie theater 'NextAct Cinema' brings to community to the big screen

Pikesville's Black-owned movie theater 'NextAct Cinema' brings to community to the big screen
Pikesville's Black-owned movie theater 'NextAct Cinema' brings to community to the big screen 03:00

BALTIMORE - Grab your popcorn, sit down and relax because this story goes beyond the big screen. 

Pikesville is home to one of the few Black-owned and operated movie theaters in the country. 

It's called NextAct Cinema

The movie theater sits inside the old Pikes Theatre. 

It went viral a few years ago after renovations and it re-opened. 

NextAct Cinema prides itself on showing the films the community wants.

It is drawing in crowds from around the nation, but the owner says their mission is bigger. 

"I can't sing and nor am I an actor, so I can't accurately be in a movie, but one of the things I could do and provide, and provide as a resource to the community, is potentially open up a theater," said NextAct Cinema co-owner Anthony Fykes.

Fykes and his business partner Robert Wright opened NextAct Cinemas in Pikesville a few years ago after working in healthcare. The duo shared a love for movies.

"We didn't want to be an AMC. We don't want to be a Cine-Bistro. The idea behind NextAct Cinema is that you are coming to a theater that feels like your home,"  said Fyles. 

Inside there are two theater rooms with 43 seats each. 

Guests can order snacks, popcorn, a meal, or wine from their seats right before their movie shows.

Lea White Young heard about NextAct and wanted to help. She reached out to help them get the word out. 

"In this area, we have this group of diverse people. So it's kind of getting them to know that we're even here. It's most important, right? Many people are familiar with the restaurant behind us if you're not familiar with what was here," said Young. 

Their goal, to build a movie theater that  feels like the good 'ol days.

"We wanted it to be original and we knew that we wanted it to be very boutique," said Fykes. 

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, many Black communities across the country are considered "cinema deserts" and lack any movie theaters at all– much less any that are Black-owned.

"Robert and I came to the decision that come hell or high water, we were going to open because the community needed it, " Fykes told WJZ. 

Fykes admits getting here wasn't easy. The COVID pandemic– caused them to shut down for a while and working with movie studios to bring big films here was tough to navigate.

"It was challenging— now because we've had so much community support. We've made it for five years. We actually can call up a studio, ask them for a movie and we usually don't have an issue with getting it,"' said Fykes. 

He says the community helped  them survive. 

"When one falls, the other one picks you back up," Fykes told WJZ. 

The community and local grants helped them stay open and to bring big movies, independent films, the classics and more.

"We have had great movies such as The Color Purple. We have had The Beekeeper. We had Beyonce, so it is all different cultures, ages and ranges," said White Young. 

Fyke, Wright and White Young want NextAct Cinema to continue being a place for people to not only enjoy movies, but be a place where they can watch AND make history. 

"And with that culture we know that movies are the thing that transforms families together," White Young told WJZ. 

"We are still around five years later, and we were able to celebrate another Black History Month. It is really special to us," said Fykes. 

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