Petitions are starting and local businesses are offering to make repairs to help restart the projectors at the only movie house in Weyburn, Sask.
The marquee on Weyburn’s Soo Theatre, owned by Landmark Cinemas, has read ‘temporarily closed” since the end of November.
But Landmark’s website says the doors are permanently shuttered and thanks movie lovers for their patronage over the last 45 years.
The building needs major repairs, and the theatre chain says it will be sold or possibly demolished.
It says repair costs aren’t worth it and Weyburn – with a population of about 11,000 – isn’t big enough to justify a new cinema.
Landmark CEO Bill Walker said the company plans to hire a broker to sell the site, although some Weyburn residents have shown some interest in buying it.
He said the company would be willing to help an entrepreneur reopen the movie house. He noted that Landmark once helped someone in an Alberta community who wanted to take over one of the chain’s theatres.
“Generally, we are looking at larger urban markets where there’s still opportunities for new cinemas,” Walker said in an interview. “But that’s not to say that a more entrepreneurial venture from a different operator couldn’t make a go of it in (Weyburn).”
Walker is sympathetic and said Landmark is reluctant to take away a cinema from any community, but it comes down to a business decision.
“Ultimately, as you can all appreciate, it’s not a charitable venture either.”
Walker said inquiries to purchase the building can be made directly to Landmark Cinemas.
City Coun. Jeff Richards suggested an independently owned theatre or a co-operative might work.
“Like everybody else, we are disappointed … to lose anything, and particularly something that can draw folks from all over,” he said.
“Ultimately we’d love to find a situation where the private sector can come up with a solution for us,” Richards added.
“We don’t want to be a city without a movie theatre.”
Richards explained the city cannot get involved. It distributes business licences but does not take part in day-to-day operations.
Weyburn is about 110 kilometres southeast of Regina.