After more than two decades of serving moviegoers in Amarillo, Regal United Artists Star Stadium 14 closed Thursday.
Opened on November 20, 1998, the theater had large stadium seating seating approximately 500 people off Interstate 40 and Soncy Road. British film group Cineworld Group bought the cinema’s parent company in 2017 for $3.6 billion to make it the second-largest cinema chain in the world at the time, with more than 9,500 cinemas in 10 countries.
The theater was previously closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened in May last year. Since then, ticket sales nationwide have slowly recovered, but are still 21% behind the 2019 box office. Delays in film production have also affected the number of films that can be shown in the theaters, with just 46 released in the first eight months of 2021, compared to 76 in the same period of 2019. Streaming is also seen as a factor affecting ticket sales and movie theater profit margins.
Reports surfaced in August that the movie chain’s parent company, Cineworld, was preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. On September 7, the Cineworld Group officially filed for bankruptcy and announced that it planned to end the leases of 20 of its sites and that other cinemas could be closed in the near future. These theater closures leave Cineworld with 485 locations, and the closest to Amarillo is the Midland location.
The cinema chain said in its filing that it would work to improve its current theater leases and change its overall real estate strategy to become more profitable in the current economy.
Cineworld’s Chapter 11 filing allows it to stay in business while trying to restructure its debt involving its US and UK operations, which cover the bulk of its business. The expectation in the company’s filing is to emerge from bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2023, with the intention of paying all of its suppliers in full during the process and paying employees their regular wages.
With the closure of Premier 6 at Westgate Mall in February 2021, this closure now leaves Amarillo with two theater chain operating locations in the city, with Cinergy on Soncy Road and Cinemark Hollywood 16 on Canyon Drive near Hollywood Road.