Regal Cinemas' final showings in Lincolnshire the latest in the trend of movie theaters closing

Regal Cinemas in Lincolnshire showed its final movies Thursday night in an unannounced closure amid its parent company's bankruptcy.

Theater employees were notified this week of the abrupt decision.

This comes after Regal Cinemas' parent company, Cineworld, announced the closure of 39 locations starting Feb. 15 as part of bankruptcy proceedings. Regal theaters in Round Lake Beach and Bolingbrook are among those set to close; Lincolnshire's wasn't on the list.

It's the latest in a string of cinema closures nationwide in an industry devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which hurt theater attendance as moviegoing audiences switched to an ever-expanding lineup of streaming services.

“We've been anticipating it coming,” Lincolnshire Mayor Elizabeth Brandt said. “Because of the pandemic and the competition with Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, movie theater attendance is way down.”

Brandt said village officials were alerted to the possibility of the theater's closing by Scott Greenberg, developer of the 78,786-square-foot retail center known as the City Park complex, which includes Regal Cinemas, big-name restaurants and other retail businesses.

“The question was not if it would happen but more when,” Brandt said.

Regal company representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Lincolnshire closure, or when the Round Lake Beach and Bolingbrook locations will shutter.

With these latest closures, the only remaining Regal theaters in the suburbs will be in Crystal Lake, Lake Zurich and Warrenville. But Regal still ranks as the second-largest theater chain after AMC Theaters. Roughly 500 Regal theaters remain open nationwide, while AMC operates 950 theaters, according to its website.

The Lincolnshire theater generated between $150,000 and $200,000 in revenues for the village from amusement and food and beverage taxes before the pandemic. But attendance and sales have been down since.

“Overall, in the industry, (attendance) is down 40% to 50%,” Brandt said, who noted that some say it's because Hollywood isn't producing as many movies or blockbusters as before the pandemic.

“Some of the people that would go to movies have never returned,” Brandt said. “They are nervous about sitting in a theater with a community of people.

“I just don't think the movie business in general has rebounded from the pandemic. That is part of the challenge of times changing.”

The median age of Lincolnshire residents is 52, and there are many who travel south for the winter, which doesn't help with movie attendance, the mayor added.

Regal Cinemas 15, which includes an IMAX theater, opened in November 1998 at the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Aptakisic Road. Brandt was on the village board when Regal sought approvals for renovations, including creating a bar and installing reclining seats.

“I am 65 years old. I grew up going to the movies,” said Brandt, who recently watched “Top Gun: Maverick” there on IMAX with her family. “I will miss Regal. I remember my kids went there for birthday parties. For our community, it is a place where young and old could go and have fun. It also employed people in our community as well.

“It's a huge loss for sure. The village is very saddened to lose them. They were a great business for many years.”

As for the future of the site, that's up to Regal and Greenberg to figure out as co-owners, Brandt said.

Some ideas have been discussed for converting and filling the space with “different entertainment or sports venues,” Brandt said.

  The Regal Cinemas theater in Lincolnshire is closing after more than 24 years. The move was not officially announced, while Regal's parent company had announced that other closures nationwide were coming. John Starks/
  Lincolnshire's Regal Cinemas, which includes an IMAX theater, is closing after operating since 1998 at the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Aptakisic Road. It's in a 78,786-square-foot retail center known as the City Park complex, which includes big name restaurants and other retail businesses. John Starks/
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