MENTOR, Ohio — Seven years after LeBron James, Amy Schumer and Bill Hader enjoyed their Akron premiere of the movie "Trainwreck," the Regal Montrose in Copley Township is slated to close as part of a bankruptcy filing for their parent company, Cineworld.
The 12-screen theater is among nearly 40 across the country expected to close.
A spokesperson with Regal Cinemas confirmed to News 5 that the last day of operations at Regal Montrose is set for Sunday, February 12:
As part of our real estate optimization strategy, Regal has made the decision to close our Regal Montrose Movies theatre as we continue to position our company for long-term growth. We are working to support our employees through this transition, and we thank them for their hard work.
All of our other Regal theatres in the area – including Regal Medina, Regal Independence, Regal Interstate Park and Regal Hudson – remain open and are operating as usual. We look forward to continuing to serve our guests and members at these locations and providing them The Best Place to Watch a Movie.
Regal Montrose is just the latest in a growing number of first-run movie theaters that have closed in Northeast Ohio since the COVID-19 outbreak, as many struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels and face new competition against an increase in streaming platforms.
View this interactive map full-screen here.
Just last month, AMC Solon Classic 16 and Chagrin Cinemas both closed. In the case of Chagrin Cinemas, the general manager told News 5 the property that the theater sits on was sold, despite solid attendance.
RELATED: 'It's sad to see it go': Heartbroken over closure, two local movie theatres have final curtain call
Seven miles south, the Cinemark 10 in Aurora remains a relic of what life looked like before COVID-19.
To learn more about why so many theaters have closed in Northeast Ohio, News 5 sought out the expertise from familiar faces behind some of the most recognizable locally-owned theaters that have avoided their own closing credits so far.
Businessman Ted Bare once owned fourteen theaters in the area. After 50 years in the business, Bare is busy enough nowadays with Akron’s single-screen Highland Square Theatre and Linda Theatre.
"In Northern Ohio, we’ve been able to sustain the movie business quite well," Bare said. "The chains that have pulled back, they’re not locally owned like my theaters, those are national chains. They have to make cuts. They just couldn’t afford to pay the rent and stay open. They’re big buildings and multiplexes and they're paying big rent. When movies weren't coming out, they had nothing to show. You need movies to keep coming and coming and coming."
Bare told News 5 his theaters were operating at only about 60% of the business compared to what he was seeing before COVID-19.
"The last five years have been tumultuous," Bare said.
On top of the industry-wide attendance struggles, Bare said some of the theaters that have closed were ones that no longer invested in themselves, and lacked modern upgrades and differentiators.
Over at Atlas Cinemas Diamond Center 16 in Mentor, it's been a race to innovate, with the game getting faster and faster for Chris Baxter.
This director of operations oversees Atlas Cinemas' 63 screens across six locations, mostly on the east side.
Baxter points to a long list of innovations as to why Atlas Cinemas has survived this cinema cutback.
"You have to make decisions quicker and you have to change and adapt quicker than you ever did before," he said.
Similar to Bare, Baxter said it's sad to see some of these theaters disappear, but the industry went through such an expansion in the 2000s that time appears to finally have caught up.
"A lot of these were built in places where they were almost on top of each other, where there was too much in one area," he said.
As for what's the next innovation coming to theaters, Baxter said it's all about adding new comfort to guests.
"It’s about what is the next step in people service," he added. "That’s really what we’re looking at. Not just food or drink but what’s the next thing people are going to ask for. We’ve got to have our ears open and be ready for that."
Baxter adds Atlas Cinemas is still about two years away from what they were bringing in pre-pandemic.
"I’m not going to lie, [the past three years were] challenging," Baxter reminisced. "Individually the movies are doing great [now], we just need more of the movies. This is a long game for us. We’ve been doing this a long time and we’re going to keep doing it."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly omitted Great Oaks Cinemas in Wadsworth from its list of theaters that have closed since the start of the pandemic. We apologize for the error.
Clay LePard is a special projects reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter @ClayLePard or on Facebook Clay LePard News 5.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.