Prospector Theater holds sparkling ribbon cutting in Wilton

WILTON — Break out the pink and the sparkle! An empty cinema in Wilton Center is getting a fresh start and new “prospects.”

Dozens of people, including state Senator Will Haskell (D-26), attended a pink-ribbon-cutting ceremony in Wilton on Tuesday, Sept. 15, to welcome Prospector Theater to town.

The first-run movie theater is replacing the vacant Bow Tie Cinema in the Wilton River Park shopping center at 21 River Road.

Wilton is the second location for the Prospector Theater. The original, “the mothership,” has been operating in Ridgefield since 2014.

“We’re very excited to be opening a Prospector in Wilton Center,” said Ryan Wenke, Prospector’s chief operating officer.

Prospector is a nonprofit business that provides training and employment for adults with disabilities through the operation of a movie theater.

Employees of the Prospector, referred to as “Prospects,” are encouraged to “sparkle, shine, and transform their passions into professions.”

“We are about meaningful work,” Prospector founder Valerie Jensen told the crowd before cutting the ceremonial pink ribbon.

“I believe we are giving people a gift of sparkle and light and a little beacon of hope in a very dark year. We are going to have the cleanest, most sparkling movie theater. Most importantly we are going to help make so many meaningful lives through meaningful work. People will see how wonderful, talented, creative and hardworking we all are,” she said.

Selectwoman Deborah McFadden welcomed the group, calling Prospector Theater an “important anchor to the town.”

McFadden said she understood the importance of the work Prospector does, because she had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, who ultimately died from leukemia.

“She would get up to go to work every day and do what she could to make the world a better place, and together we’ll make the world a better place,” McFadden said.

Prospector in Wilton expects to start showing films in fall 2021. In the meantime, extensive interior renovations are planned to give the inside a fresh look. “We’re not keeping seats or any equipment from Bow Tie. Everything will be brand new, we hope it will be awesome,” Wenke said.

The plan calls for the construction of four screens/viewing rooms, with about 400 seats overall. One room will have around 160 seats, two will have around 100 and the smallest will have 60, according to Wenke. In addition, an event space will be created to allow for birthday parties and other events.

The Wilton theater will show first-run films, just as it does in Ridgefield. “The latest Star Wars or Disney film, you will see them here in Wilton,” Wenke said.

Prospector is very popular in the Ridgefield community, and Wenke hopes Wilton will embrace it as well. “We employ adults with disabilities and teach and train them the operation of a theater. At every movie, a Prospect gives a welcoming speech, and provides pink-luxe service. It makes moviegoing special,” Wenke said.