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Morgantown, WV: Warner Theater Closes

Posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 3:53 PM

The Warner Theater in Morgantown, West Virginia closed its doors after business on September 5, 2010, according to the Press Release issued by owner Round Table Corporation. The theater opened in 1931.

Moviegoers in Morgantown do have options, however, as there are three movie theaters within 15 miles, including the Carmike Morgantown Mall 12 on Mall Road.

That press release appears in its entirety below.

Press Release

Warner Theatre Closure - Morgantown, W.Va.

– After 79 years, Warner no longer operating the movie theatre –

Morgantown, W.Va. (August 30, 2010) – For more than 79 years the Warner Theatre, located in downtown Morgantown, has been providing the greater Morgantown community a timeless movie watching experience. Unfortunately, the time has come for the Warner Theatre to show its’ last film.

Over the history of the Theatre, the business has been owned and operated by several different parties from the original Warner Brothers in 1931 to Round Table Corporation today. Round Table Corporation has operated the theatre since 2004 in an ever increasingly difficult exhibition industry while occupying a deteriorating building.

Although the film industry has experienced sustained growth and innovation with new features such as digital projection, stadium seating, and 3-D films, the industry has changed from its origin of hundreds of independently operated small community theatres to one dominated by large exhibition conglomerates and glitzy megaplexes. The top ten movie chains control 50% of the all the movie screens in the country. These large entities are much better leveraged to be able to obtain the best film product thus drawing the largest audiences and generating the largest box office revenue. Morgantown’s movie business has its own challenges as well. In 2004 there were only 9 public movie screens, today there are 27 screens serving the county’s population of approximately 80,000. Patrick Corcoran, from the Los Angeles office of the National Association of Theater Operators, said “although movie theaters are often used as anchors for redevelopment, markets can only sustain a limited number of screens. Also it’s often much more difficult for the small original independent theaters to compete with the major chains.”

“The Warner has always had a very loyal following of patrons, whom we appreciate greatly, but there just aren’t enough of them to sustain the business operation and the ongoing building issues. The small independent movie theatre business model simply does not work in the face of the issues we face at the Warner,” said Susan Riddle, COO of Round Table Corporation. Since 2004 when Round Table Corporation took over, programs such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Free Summer Movie Program, special event rentals, website promotions, and the annual Zombie Walk were implemented to attempt to increase the number of Warner patrons. Unfortunately Round Table’s continued support and dedication to the Warner, isn’t enough to continue to operate the movie business. Round Table has considered many options for the movie theater space over the past six years but none of the options have been found to be financially viable. There are no redevelopment plans of any kind in place for the theatre space now or in the future. The retail space, which houses a Carvel Ice Cream and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Shoppe and Star Salon, will continue to operate as anchors that are part of the Warner building’s downtown façade.

Warner will show movies to the public through Sunday September 5th closing the movie business Monday September 6th. There will be one last showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Saturday September 3rd at 11pm. Patrons are invited to see one last film at the Warner before it closes Sunday September 5th.

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