Regal theater in North Olmsted the latest in rash of local, nationwide closures

Cinema lovers in Northeast Ohio are reacting to the latest surge in closed theaters as exhibitors struggle in a post-pandemic market.


Kelly Coyne

This is a display of the Regal landmark inside Great Northern Mall, which closed on Jan. 27. Some local enthusiasts are alarmed by the sudden decline of accessible movie theater locations.

The Regal movie theater inside the Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted has joined the ranks of several other recently closed Northeast Ohio cinemas. Jan. 27 marked the theater’s final day of movie showings.   

The Regal Great Northern Mall closure adds to a growing list of local theaters going out of business.   

Chagrin Cinemas and AMC Classic Solon 16 closed in January and – as The Exponent reported last year – the Regal Middleburg Heights multiplex closed in September of 2022. Regal Montrose in Akron is set to close soon, with a date not yet announced.  

Baldwin Wallace film studies professor Paul Peters said that while he still manages to catch films in theaters, the rapid decline of available movie theater options is alarming.  

“For me it’s a much greater concern that we’re losing movie theaters so quickly like this … If I want to go to a movie theater and I’m local, there’s going to be a lot more limited options for me to actually go,” Peters said.   

Today, streaming is playing a pivotal role in the film industry, with many high-profile studios and production companies, like Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery, forgoing theatrical runs in place of streaming premieres for some tentpole films.   

Despite the convenience and accessibility of streaming, movie theaters provide unique benefits for Peters as opposed to home viewing, including the heightened experience and early access to films with longer theatrical windows. The movie theater allows one to be immersed in the movie with its sound systems and projection screens, Peters said.  

Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, filed for bankruptcy in 2022. The company’s debt is upwards of $5 billion for Cineworld as it struggles to shake off the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the decline in theater audiences nationwide. For Cineworld, closing theaters is part of a strategy to save money and pay off their debt.   

The hope for the North Olmsted theater upon its construction in 2013 was that it would have increased attendance due to its location as a mall theater. However, the theater’s closure is not a first for the area. A previous, smaller Regal location in a plaza adjacent to the mall was closed in 2000 due to declining profits, according to  

Peters said that while multiplexes – theatres with multiple screens like the 10-screen Regal Great Northern Mall or the 16-screen Regal Middleburg Town Square – will be the most affected since they require more customers to break even. Arthouse and specialty cinemas may stand a better chance going forward, Peters said.  

“People are still going to go to arthouse cinemas, it has special appeal. If anything, I think movies might become more of a specialty item,” Peters said.   

Baldwin Wallace junior Nevan Quinn said that he has been an avid movie theater viewer his whole life. As a Regal Unlimited member, he sees roughly two movies per month. On Christmas Eve last year, Quinn saw the Santa Claus-themed slasher “Violent Night” with his family at the North Olmsted theater. Quin said he and his family were the only ones in attendance.   

Quinn said that movie theaters provide him with a sense of nostalgia. Growing up he went to midnight screenings of Marvel movies with his brother.   

“For a Marvel movie, for me, it’s an experience that you can’t really get at home,” Quinn said. “For example, my brother and I saw ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ and when Tobey [Maguire] and Andrew [Garfield] showed up, the theater went nuts. That’s something that I won’t forget and something I won’t get at an at home movie experience.”