The credits are rolling in Weyburn as the only movie theatre left in the city faces permanent closure.
Instead of announcing coming attractions, the sign at the Soo Theatre in Weyburn has read ‘Temporarily Closed’ since the end of November.
The building needs repairs to the heating and cooling system along with the roof and the flooring.
“The closure, that has been indefinite to this point while we assess some things, is going to move to be a permanent closure,” explained Bill Walker, CEO of Landmark Cinemas, in an interview with Discover Weyburn.
Some residents have expressed concern about losing the lone movie theatre. There have been petitions on social media to save the theatre and offers from Weyburn businesses to make repairs.
“We own the building and we went through the process of sort of assessing what the cost and what the investment required to turn that theatre back around and what it would need to be,” Walker said.
“Ultimately we’re just not able to justify that investment, and so at this point, we’re going to move to make that a permanent closure and we’ll be putting the asset up for sale or potentially the asset will need to be demolished.”
Walker is sympathetic and said the owners are reluctant to take away a cinema from any community. It comes down to a business decision.
“Ultimately, as you can all appreciate, it’s not a charitable venture either.”
“We hate to see a cinema go away from our company and from a community that has embraced the cinema for so long. But it’s just the reality of some of these buildings and it wasn’t an investment we were able to justify into that asset.”
There has been some interest by Weyburn residents in buying the theatre from Landmark Cinemas.
Walker said inquiries to purchase the movie theatre can be made directly to Landmark Cinemas and the company will be hiring a broker to sell the building.
He added the company once helped a local entrepreneur in a community in Alberta who wanted to take over the theatre when Landmark closed it.
“We would be all-in to help someone through that process if someone was really, really keen to try and re-open that theatre as an entrepreneurial adventure. The economics sometimes for a local entrepreneur can be different than what it is for us as an organization and the way we structure things.”
Walker said there is a major capital investment and work required to the current building, however, the city is not considered by Landmark Cinemas to be big enough to make a new theatre building possible.
“Generally, we are looking at larger urban markets where there’s still opportunities for new cinemas but that’s not to say that a more entrepreneurial adventure from a different operator couldn’t make a go of it in that community.”
Unless a buyer turns up to give the Soo Theatre a chance at a sequel, people in Weyburn will be forced to leave town to get the full movie theatre experience.
Written by James Brackpool, Reporter for www.DiscoverWeyburn.com