WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- You may do a double take the next time you pass by Images Cinema.
The independent theater at 50 Spring St. now boasts a new marquee which announces currently playing films.
Executive Director Sandra Thomas said the marquee was installed by Callahan Signs of Pittsfield on Friday afternoon, just in time for Saturday's Holiday Walk on Spring Street.
"We've had nothing but positive responses from people," she said. "I've watched people drive down the street, and their jaws drop open. People walk by and say, ‘Has this always been there?'"
The new double-sided, interior-lit marquee that hangs over the sidewalk differs from many you may see at movie theaters and performance venues, Thomas said. Removable plastic letters are used instead of an LCD screen.
The result is a marquee which retains an old-fashioned yet modern design, she said.
Different marquees have hung over the sidewalk from the early days, when the cinema began as the Walden Theatre in 1916, up through the 1980s, Thomas said.
The marquee was eventually removed, she said, and the theater's entrance was relocated to the side of the building.
In recent years, only a sign announcing the name of the theater was hung over the front entrance, she said.
Movie announcements were displayed on the side of the wall in the ally next to the theater.
Talk of installing a new marquee began when the theater reclaimed its front entrance in 2008, she said.
"The primary reason for the new marquee is they are the primary way people find out what's playing at movie theaters," Thomas explained. "Marquees are symbolic. People know right away when you see a marquee, there's a cinema or something performance-based."
Installing a new marquee became a high priority within the last year, she said, and a handful of anonymous donors provided financial support for the project.
The first movie advertised was Tim Burton's 1993 feature, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," which Images showed free Sunday afternoon.
Thomas said special community events and even town meetings or elections could also be advertised on the new marquee.
"I think it contributes to the vitality of Spring Street," Thomas said. "We're an anchor on the street, having been there almost 100 years."
She added that the marquee could also be good for nighttime business on Spring Street.
"It lights up the street at night, so it looks like things are going on," she said. "If people are out and about, maybe going to dinner, it adds to the sense of liveliness."
To reach Edward Damon, email edamon@thetranscript-.com.