Pour another one out for another movie theater biting the dust, as the Regal UA on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley is closing. There’s no closing date announced, but it looks like their lease will expire February 15.
Has any industry been hurt more by the COVID-19 pandemic than movie theaters? I’m sure some industries would argue they have been, but movie houses have been forced out of business at a pretty alarming rate. You might remember last February, when both the Landmark Embarcadero and West Portal’s CineArts at Empire both closed permanently within an eight-day span.
Regal UA, downtown Berkeley’s last movie theater, is slated to close https://t.co/1E0Aenfjuq— Berkeleyside (@berkeleyside) January 20, 2023
More of that bad news from the East Bay, as the Chronicle reports that the Regal UA Berkeley is closing. The Chron headlines this as “Downtown Berkeley’s last movie theater is closing its doors,” while Berkeleyside says “Regal UA, downtown Berkeley’s last movie theater, is slated to close.” But the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, also in Berkeley, remains open. So they’re assessing this in terms of “downtown” Berkeley, or proximity to the UC Berkeley campus.
rip ua berkeley 7 -- an incredibly shitty theater that i saw many shitty movies at. there are now zero multiplexes by the berkeley campus. https://t.co/3uXyRyPUAg— jackson. (@cheaperby12film) January 19, 2023
The cause of this does seem to be COVID-19, because as Business Insider reports, the closures are because of parent company Cineworld’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Cineworld filed for bankruptcy this past September. According to Business Insider, “Cineworld detailed the plan to reject the leases starting February 15 in a new bankruptcy filing on Tuesday.” So we don’t have a proper closing date yet, but it seems highly unlikely the Regal UA Berkeley will be screening any movies after February 15,
And the place was almost certain to close anyway. Berkeleyside reported in August that a developer submitted plans to demolish the theater and build a 17-story apartment complex at the site. That developer would at least keep the historic art deco facade intact from when the theater opened in 1932.
The 18-month old Regal Stonestown Galleria, with the seat-motion and scent effects, is also owned by Cineworld, but not named among the closures. Cineworld still has nearly 500 U.S. theaters, even with this closure of 39 theaters, and remains the second-largest movie theater chain in America, behind AMC.
Related: Now the Landmark Embarcadero Cinema is Closing, as COVID Continues to Ravage Movie Theaters [SFist]
Caitlin C. via Yelp