Erie loses its only dollar theater

Erie entertainment has just gotten more expensive.

Local movie buffs face higher prices and more limited options with the Oct. 14 closing of Cinemark’s Millcreek Cinema 6, better known as the dollar theater.

Cinemark regional officials cited upkeep costs for the Cinema 6 building, located by Interchange Road in the Millcreek Mall complex, as the reason for shutting its doors.

“It wasn’t for lack of traffic as to why it closed down,” Joe Bell, a spokesman for the mall, told the Erie Times-News. “The movie theater and second-run theater industry is down right now.”

Bell is the director of corporate communications for Cafaro Co., which owns Millcreek Mall.

He also told the Times-News that mall officials will consider alternative functions for the building.

“We’re capable of renovating it for new use,” he said. “Retail space, hospitality. The possibilities are quite open.”

In the meantime, only one theater remains open in Erie County – Summit Township’s Tinseltown, which is also owned by Cinemark.

Just over a mile from the former Cinema 6, Tinseltown boasts more timely films, but at a price. An adult ticket for an evening show costs $8.

Devan Omahen, a Gannon University senior international studies major, was used to paying a fraction of that at the dollar theater.

“I used to go all the time because I was too broke to afford the regular theater,” she said.

Omahen and her friends waited for movies to make their second run at Cinema 6 before seeing them. Now they simply won’t go to the movies as often, she said.

Stephanie Miller, a sophomore nursing major, said that she didn’t spend much time at the dollar theater since arriving at college.

“I used to go a lot more often when I was younger,” she said.

Instead, she rents movies new on DVD from the Nash Library for free.

“They’re pretty good about getting newer movies,” she said of the library’s staff.

Miller also said she attends showings at Zurn Science Center, where Gannon’s Activities Programming Board frequently plays newly released DVDs in one of the larger lecture halls. So far this year, APB has run “The Hunger Games,” “Dark Shadows” and “The Dark Knight Rises” over three separate weekends.

Movies in Zurn cost $1 and free popcorn is included. The proceeds are then donated to charity.

Both Omahen and Miller said that although ticket prices at Tinseltown are higher than they’re usually willing to spend, prices in their home state of New York are even higher. There they pay upwards of $10 to see evening shows.

The average U.S. ticket price, according to the National Association of Theater Owners, was $7.93 in 2011, up from $5.06 in 1999.

As ticket prices rose, the number of theaters shrank.

In 1999, there were more than 7,000 indoor theaters in the United States, according to the association’s website. Just 12 years later, only 5,331 are still in business.

The closest movie theater after Tinseltown is in Meadville, about 35 miles south.

The Movies at Meadville charges $9 for evening adult tickets, but student and military discounts bring the cost to $8, the same as Tinseltown.



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