The Regal Cinema South Beach Stadium 18 on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach is one of 39 theaters set to close in the Regal chain, according to Business Insider.
Regal, the second largest cinema chain in the United States, is planning to close 39 movie theaters nationwide — and the Regal South Beach on Lincoln Road is one of them.
Business Insider reported the closings, adding that Regal’s parent company Cineworld, which announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last September, planned to reject the leases of the 39 theaters starting Feb. 15 in a new bankruptcy filing. Cineworld estimated that the closings would save the company $22 million a year.
The closings, which include the Shadowood 16 in Boca Raton, will leave the tiny art house O Cinema and Rooftop Cinema Club as the only theaters in Miami Beach. Rooftop Cinema Club, across Alton Road from the Regal South Beach, shows older films such as “Friday” and “Dirty Dancing” as well as newer fare available for streaming like “Nope” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
There is no timetable yet for when the theater might close, and a call to Regal went unanswered. But Lyle Stern, president of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District and principal of Vertical Real Estate, said that although losing 39 Regal cinemas is unfortunate, it wasn’t a shock.
“With the national movie theater industry in great flux and attendance dramatically down, the cinema’s closing has not been unforeseeable,” he said. “Most theaters in the country today are just too large and over screened.”
Stern said he does not expect to see a huge impact on Lincoln Road foot traffic due to the closing, citing seasonal markets and new restaurant and retail concepts as lures for visitors. He also said that the property owner will have the chance to rent the four-story space to a new, more attractive concept (the property is owned by BH 1100 Lincoln Road LLC and managed by Arsalan Gozini, chairman and CEO of BH Properties).
“As a resident of Miami Beach, I hope a reimagined version of the cinema returns more in line with the kind of theater experience consumers are seeking today,” Stern said.
But while the district may not be worried about the future, the closing is a blow to Miami-area film organizations, which count on the Regal South Beach theaters for film festival screenings and other cultural events. The Regal South Beach hosted film premieres and red carpet events for years before the pandemic, drawing celebrities and fans eager for a glimpse of someone famous.
Regal South Beach hosted many red carpets for movie premieres, including “Magic Mike XXL,” which brought Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Jada Pinkett Smith to Miami Beach in 2015.
The news hits arts groups doubly hard after City of Miami ended its contract with Miami Dade College, which sponsors the Miami Film Festival, and took over the historic Tower Theater in Little Havana, which acted as an art house and home for festival screenings.
The Miami Film Festival could not be reached for comment on how the move might affect its 2023 lineup, which runs from March 3-12. The festival hasn’t released its list of films or venues yet. In recent years, it has relied on the Silverspot Cinema in downtown Miami for screenings but has used space at the Regal in the past.
Lauren Cohen, director of programming for the festival, said that as someone who grew up on Miami Beach, she finds the news disheartening. She recalls being in elementary school in 1999 and having a friend pass her a note saying “The movie theater is open on Lincoln Road!” then asking her if she wanted to see “The Matrix” there.
“It’s a huge blow,” she said. “But it was trending in that direction. When you go there now, it’s pretty empty, like a ghost town. . . We’re sad to see it happen. It was home to the film festival for a long time, and it was such a great place to have premieres and to take filmmakers out to dinner around there.”
The film ‘Serenade for Haiti’ was shown at Regal South Beach as part of the Miami Film Festival in 2017.
Igor Shteyrenberg, executive director of the Miami Jewish Film Festival, who is currently taking place at Regal South Beach, called the news “gut wrenching.”
“There’s an extinction-level event taking place in South Florida right now, and not enough people are aware of what’s happening,” he said. “Our entire cinema ecosystem is going the way of the horseshoe.”
Shteyrenberg, who’s also the co-founder and co-director of the popular horror film festival Popcorn Frights, said that this year’s Jewish Film Festival has been well-attended. More than 700 people showed up to sell out opening night at Regal South Beach, which has hosted the festival since the theater opened in 1999.
“Miami is a huge metropolitan city. There’s no way a city this big should have such a shrinking cinema footprint,” he said. “I grew up in Miami Beach. I went to the movies in Miami Beach. I discovered my love of cinema in Miami Beach. Miami Beach needs its movie screens, a place people can come together and discover the magic of movies.”
This story was originally published January 20, 2023 11:52 AM.
Connie Ogle loves wine, books and the Miami Heat. Please don’t make her eat a mango.