More tragic endings for Bay Area film fans, as San Rafael’s Regency 6 Cinema apparently closed permanently on Sunday, as the sluggish rebound from COVID claims another longtime Bay Area movie house.
There have been so many crushing and unexpected movie theater closures since the start of the pandemic, it’s almost difficult to keep track of them all. Yet there are still some dots to connect. An early COVID closure of an SF movie theater was the February 2021 shuttering of the CineArts at Empire in West Portal, which was called “CineArts” because of its art-house fare, but was owned by national theater chain Cinemark. A more typical theater Cinemark theater was the Century 9 theater in Westfield Mall, which also abruptly announced its closure this past June.
So there are signs that the Cinemark-owned theaters are in trouble. And add another sign, as the Marin Independent Journal reported Tuesday that Cinemark’s 40-year-old Regency 6 Cinema in San Rafael has closed, with its last day in business apparently having been this past Sunday. (The Regency theater chain is owned by Cinemark.)
A Regency spokesperson told the Independent Journal that “This closure is normal course of business and the result of the careful and ongoing review of our theater fleet.”
And it seems this is, in fact, the normal course of business for Cinemark theaters these days. A glance through local newspapers’ headlines shows that in the last two weeks, Cinemark-owned theaters have been closed down in Monroe, Louisiana and Enfield, Connecticut, so the parent company may be pulling the plug on a handful of their underperforming theaters. A report that appeared on Yahoo Finance this week notes that Cinemark’s stock price is down 61% over the last five years.
In the case of this theater’s future, the Independent Journal notes that the property has not been listed for lease or sale (though that could happen in the future). The property could be rendered suitable for housing development with a zoning change. And intriguingly, City of San Rafael housing analyst Alexis Captanian told the Independent Journal, “The city has been approached by real estate representatives asking about the potential development of this site, but no applications have been filed with the city.”
This is the latest in a string of COVID closures of Cinemark theaters in Marin County. As the Independent Journal notes, Cinemark closed the Century Theatres Cinema in Corte Madera in June 2020, and the Century Larkspur Landing Theater last November. They also left the Sequoia Theater in Mill Valley, though that venue is being taken over by the California Film Institute, which organizes the Mill Valley Film Festival.
Image: Kati G. via Yelp