The nearby theater has been closed since October

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the curtain to close on the local Regal Cinemas movie theater. After a year of financial and operational struggles courtesy of the pandemic, the town is terminating its lease with the theater.

The movie theater has operated out of the town-owned property at 210 S. Main St. since 2000, but has been closed since Oct. 8. Howard Kartel, the town’s finance director and treasurer, explained via telephone that contractual details allow the lease to be terminated if Regal Cinemas ceases operating a movie theater for 120 days. The theater was one year into a five-year lease extension. 

Regal Cinemas, Kartel said, also stopped paying rent at the onset of the pandemic and owes about $50,000 in back payments, which the town will pursue through normal collection procedures. While state restrictions initially forced movie theater closures early in the pandemic, Regal Cinemas operated for a brief period in 2020 before the October closure.

During that brief reopening, Kartel explained the theater was hampered by delayed releases such as the James Bond film.

Last year, Regal Theaters explained the decision to close in a statement: "In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Regal will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its Regal theatres in the U.S. as of Friday, October 9."

According to a NPR article, Regal Cinemas has 536 locations and about 40,000 people in America. 

To his knowledge, Kartel said the theater is owned and operated by the Regal Cinemas corporate entity.

Regarding the next tenant, Kartel said the town is “open to all possibilities,” including a lease renegotiation with Regal Cinemas.

The motion, made at the Culpeper Town Council's Feb. 9 meeting, reads: “Council directed staff to take necessary actions to collect payment of past due rents, and communicates to Regal Cinemas Inc. the early termination of the lease due to Regal’s cease in operation of the movie theatre business at the property for a period of 120 days or more, in accordance with Paragraph 19 of the lease agreement and directed staff to take necessary actions and begin seeking new opportunities for lease or sale of the theatre building and grounds based on current market and economic conditions, to include exploring new lease options with Regal Cinemas, Inc."

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