SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) The Regal Cinemas in downtown Santa Cruz has closed for good.
The city says the theater chain pulled out because of the tough economic times brought on by the pandemic. The closures are part of a bigger trend among movie theaters nationally, after COVID-19 restrictions all but dried up their revenues.
"If the big chain theaters can't make it, how are the little guys going to make it?" said Joshua Bradley, a Santa Cruz resident.
"To know that that's going to be closed down is really disappointing," said Sophie Walker, a UCSC freshman.
Whether you are a college student looking for weekend fun or a film lover anticipating the next Best Picture, theaters like Regal 9 are the place to go.
"It sort of just is an escape from reality, at least from me. And it really just takes you out of any issues you have and makes you focus on something different. And I just really love and miss that personally," said Theo Funk, another UCSC freshman.
While the pandemic has impacted all parts of the economy, the City of Santa Cruz says movies theaters and entertainment venues are hit especially hard with purple tier restrictions keeping theaters from any business at all.
The building itself now has this obstacle to overcome. Back in the 90s, it became an important part of the post-Loma Prieta Earthquake recovery.
"So it was part of the key for the revitalization of downtown," said Bonnie Lipscomb, the Santa Cruz economic development director.
But like any good Hollywood blockbuster, there is a sequel being planned: the owners of the building are already trying to find a new theater operator to keep the movies rolling.
"With an active university population returning in the fall, we can support a mainstream theater in Santa Cruz," said Lipscomb.
The movies have always brought people downtown. For shops and restaurants nearby, it was perfect.
"A movie theater is kind of like one of the pillars of most communities. It's one of the few public gathering spots where people come and spend two hours together," said Bradley.
While there are talks about getting a new operator for the theater, we are not sure just yet how soon that could come into fruition.