'It's sad to see it go': Heartbroken over closure, two local movie theatres have final curtain call

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 18:57:51-05

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Movie lovers in two communities are going to have to find a new place to watch their new favorite flicks.

The AMC in Solon closed just days ago, as ticket sales nationwide struggle to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, Chagrin Cinemas will be showing their final movies this weekend, after more than three decades, but the reason for their closure is different.

When Nick Petersen goes to work it's like he's going home. He first started at Chagrin Cinemas his senior year of high school in 2000.

An old aerial photo of the building from that time hangs in the lobby.

"Right there, if you can see it, is actually my car," said Petersen. "It's an old 1988 Ford Escort hatchback!"

He was at work that day at the cinemas as an usher and in concessions.

"Never thinking I would run this place one day," he said.

Petersen is now the general manager of Chagrin Cinemas, but his tenure is ending. As fate would have it, right where it began for him as a child, when the theater first opened in November of 1989.

"That opening weekend I was here with my brother, and he took me to see the Little Mermaid," he recalled. "Actually, in this auditorium is where I watched it!"

Be it the smell of popcorn, the company or action on the big screen, generations of memories have been made at Chagrin Cinemas.

"I'm really sad to see it go," said Nancy Callahan. "I'm sad that theaters all across the country are closing."

"It's sad, it's sad to see it go," said Candi Malafarina. "Plus, we just found out the one in Solon is going too."

"We like getting out and seeing a movie on the big screen with a sound system and everything," said her husband, Greg Malafarina. "It's a night out for us."

Chagrin Cinemas will close this Sunday after more than 30 years in the community. Petersen says it's not because the business wasn't doing well. In fact, he says things were great.

"Last winter was great for us," he said. "This past summer was probably our busiest summer ever, and we were making plans for the future."

He says the property that the theater sits on was sold.

Cleveland Cinemas is the tenant of the building and operated the movie house.

For Petersen, saying goodbye to it and the magic they made here is devastating.

He says the stars of this show have always been the theater and people, the staff and moviegoers, and he's forever grateful for it all.

"I think I've said most of it, but the real thing is just thanking the community for all these years," said Petersen.

He says they have a small staff of about half a dozen people, mostly students.

He says please come see them one last time this weekend and ticket sales for some of the films will benefit A Special Wish.

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