Parkway Cinemas to close in May
BLOOMINGTON, IL — The eight-screen Carmike Parkway Cinemas has been open for only twenty years, but according to this article, the theater is “at the end of useful life” and that the opening of newer megaplexes in the area have resulted in more screens than the marketing area can support.
Despite Hollywood’s record 10 billion ticket sales in 2009, a market the size of Bloomington-Normal can’t support the number of existing screens, Champion said.
The current total, 55, is the most for any downstate Illinois market. With the Parkway’s closure, the count will still remain high, at 47.
Read more in the Pantagraph.
[ed. note- Has the public’s desire for amenities made 20 years the standard lifetime of a theater these days? Or were the theaters of that era unremarkable? Was stadium seating the ultimate game changer?]
I think stadium seating is an important but perhaps not the only factor with regard to the demise of the relatively smaller multiplexes built when this one was. The much-detested shoebox multiplexes of the 1980s and early 90s cannot help but be at a disadvantage when a new cinema with all the now-expected amenities is built somewhere even relatively nearby. Some of the older multiplexes of the Parkway’s era may not be in locations where upgrades are feasible – especially if they are in older malls. (Theaters with their entrances inside a mall – they also seem to be a dying species). Many first and second generation multiplexes are constrained by the size of the real estate on which they sit, or are no longer regarded as profitable by their respective operators.
Considering how many of them were basically concrete block buildings sitting on a pad, with interiors of basically sheetrock, they are almost disposable buildings, which is how their owners probably regard them when no other use can be found.
Some years ago the Brookhaven Multiplex closed on Long Island after only 18 years. It’s demise was probably stadium seating and the, so called, deluxe concept, meals, director’s screen rooms – upscale la di dah. And the new theatres are still nothing more than concrete boxes, perhaps colored but legos none the less.
Today’s business model for chain cinemas appears to say that the minimum number of screens for a “profitable” complex is 14, (or there abouts.) There are two criteria being used in this formula, per se. First, the tried and true one screen for every ten thousand population within a certain radius of location; second, how many releases per month can be anticipated to run, and still meet the minimum 3, 4 or 6 weeks first run requirement? To be sure, independently owned mini-multi screen venues ‘might’ survive; those having 3 or 4 screens, as art houses, or providing niche amentities such as food and drink services, but in general, the minimums are all too real.