If business does not improve, the curtain could soon fall for the last time at the only movie theatre in the region.
In October 2021, Cinémas Laurentiens in Grenville was taken over by the Montréal-based CinéStarz chain and the building was sold to a separate owner, after longtime cinéma owners Danielle Lacasse and Yvon Myner retired. CinéStarz agreed to operate the two-screen theatre for another year.
The building’s owners are planning to demolish the structure and build condominiums on the site. Originally, CinéStarz was going to consider having cinéma space in the new building, but a lack of customers and revenue at the existing location has the president of the company reconsidering that possibility.
“To pursue a new movie theatre in a new building is not enticing,” said Bruce Gurberg.
Since taking over the Grenville cinéma, CinéStarz began offering up to four screenings a day at the location. However, the extra options have not resulted in extra business.
“We’ve gone far and beyond what a normal movie theatre would have done to make that Grenville location work,” Gurberg said.
While screenings increased at CinéStarz Cinémas Laurentiens, ticket prices remained the same as before the change in management.
“I was hoping for an improvement,” Gurberg remarked.
On one recent Tuesday, only seven customers showed up at the theatre during the entire day.
Gurberg said he has advertised extensively in local newspapers and was distributing 3,000 brochures per week, listing movies and showtimes.
“There’s been no return,” he said, noting the Grenville location has been operating at a loss.
Gurberg commented that going to see a movie is much more affordable than other entertainment like an NHL hockey game or going out for dinner.
“What event costs less? He remarked.
If business improves at CinéStarz Cinemas Laurentiens over the next few months, Gurberg said he could reconsider and negotiate a deal with the building’s owner for new cinéma space.
“If people can show me that theatre belongs there, I can still make a deal,” he said.
It is not clear when, or if, the cinéma in Grenville could cease to operate, but CinéStarz had originally intended to operate the theatre for one year, which will be up in October.
According to Grenville Mayor Pierre Thauvette, the owner of the cinéma building would like to develop 36 condominiums on the property. However, plans have not yet been deposited with the village and no permits have been issued. The project remains in the planning and design stage at this point, the mayor said.