The shock of cinema is gaining strength in the era of streaming and the pandemic.
The latest theater to go dark is Regal Stadium 10 at the Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted. It will close after Friday, January 27, employees told customers and callers. Additionally, the theater’s website did not allow online ticket sales after Friday.
Great Northern Mall management could not be reached for comment. Regal’s media contacts did not return a call and an email.
The Regal Great Northern is the latest in a series of closures, most – but not all – related to Cineworld Group’s September 2022 filing for Chapter 11 reorganization under the US Bankruptcy Code in US District Court. United States for the Southern District of Texas, seeking relief from its debt load. The closures have landlords, mayors, economic development directors and real estate agents pushing to find new uses for the spaces that are being vacated.
The Regal Montrose Theater in Akron’s suburban Montrose area, which does not have a firm closing date, is among 39 venues with unexpired leases that have been terminated, according to a court filing on Tuesday, Jan. 24. 16 Regal Middleburg Towne Square in Middleburg Heights closed last September.
Separately, Solon’s AMC Classic Cinema 16 was closed on January 16. It is operated by AMC Theaters Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri. And the independent Cleveland Cinemas is closing the 14-screen Chagrin Cinemas in Bainbridge Township because the property it leased has been sold.
Nearby retailers will feel the ripples from the closures.
“Terrible” is how Rustom Khouri, CEO of Westlake’s Carnegie Management & Development Corp., called the theater closure at his Middleburg mall.
“Regal was an important anchor to the other downtown tenants,” Khouri said. “Spectators were stopping to eat at other downtown locations. It’s also a significant loss of revenue for the property.”
Khouri said his company is looking to fill the vacant space in the theatre, subdividing it to serve at least two smaller tenants. He has not heard of any closures at Carnegie’s Cobblestone Square complex in Sheffield Village, or at a property in Massillon. Most theaters contain about 50,000 square feet of leasable space, and few tenants of that size are standing.
North Olmsted Mayor Nicole Dailey Jones said in a telephone interview that the suburb’s city government “got the bad news” of the closure on Jan. 24 when employees began telling customers about the plan and word died down. spread on social media.
“Regal’s retirement saddened me, but unfortunately it’s part of a national trend,” he said.
Dailey Jones said she is committed to working with mall management to find a new operation that will help keep the enclosed 1 million-square-foot mall viable.
“I am fully committed to doing everything I can to keep our mall healthy and thriving,” said Dailey Jones. “The health of that mall is critical to the future of our city. We have a strong working relationship with the mall. The more people you have working to find solutions, the better.”
Similarly, in Solon, Angee Shaker, director of economic development for the city, said she is working with Davis Development, which owns the Solon movie theater building, to find a new user.
“There may be an opportunity to stage a smaller, more intimate theater,” he said. “Since it is located (along with other commercial and hotel properties) on Solon Commons, there may be other commercial use.”
Additionally, he added, Solon Theaters and Solon Commons are close to the city’s industrial estates.
“We may have to repurpose the building or tear it down,” he said. “Theatres are difficult to redevelop because of the sloping floors. There is also the thought that industrial use could enter.”
Shaker said his understanding is that AMC wasn’t generating the revenue the chain needs from its operations, and in order to compete, the location would need a substantial makeover.
He sees the closure as part of broader economic changes in the film business.
“During the pandemic, a lot of people have invested in home theaters,” Shaker said. “With streaming movies available, they seem to stream right away after seeing a few in theaters. It’s a shame the Solon theaters are closing. A lot of people loved that theater.”
The widespread closures bring to mind concerns about the future of movie theaters when home video appeared in the mid-1980s. At the time, there was much speculation about theaters closing. However, the industry has responded with more screens at individual locations, more concessions, better sound systems and 3D movies.
Then came streaming.
Khouri isn’t optimistic about cinemas themselves these days.
“Given all the changes in how people stream (movies) online today, movie theaters are probably going by the wayside,” Khouri said.