Chain closes movie complex at Country Fair

CHAMPAIGN - Country Fair Cinemas has closed, the victim of earlier DVD releases.

The second-run theater complex showed its last movie, ?My Big Fat Greek Wedding,? on Sunday night, said James Whitman, director of marketing for Springfield-based GKC Theatres.

?We had seven employees, and they all transferred to the Beverly Cinemas,? he added.

Jeffrey Cole, the company's chief financial officer, said he could not comment Wednesday on the theater's closing but would have more to say next week.

?The largest factor, even in this economy, is the steady decline of move-over or sub-run movies in all markets,? Whitman said.

More people see movies the first couple weekends after they're released, and the window of time between the theatrical release and the release on DVDs is shorter, he said. As a result, fewer people are going to second-run theaters. The company closed its second-run theater in Bloomington two years ago.

Beginning this week, GKC Theatres has stopped running ads in newspapers Monday through Thursday listing show times at the Beverly Cinemas.

?The whole industry is undergoing a change, with 80 percent of revenues earned Friday, Saturday and Sunday,? Whitman said.

He said GKC felt it didn't make sense to spend 60 percent of its advertising revenue on days that account for only 20 percent of revenue.

Plus, he said, the company believes theatergoers are relying more on the World Wide Web to get show times. Weekday newspaper ads now direct people to check www.gkctheatres.com for show times.

The Country Fair Cinemas had seven theater screens, but cut back from showing four or five movies daily to only one film daily, as of Dec. 29.

The theater complex occupies 26,620 square feet on the north end of Country Fair Shopping Center.

There's been a theater complex at the shopping center for more than 30 years, and GKC Theatres has operated it for the last 17.

Country Fair Cinemas is survived by ?My Big Fat Greek Wedding.? That film, which has played continuously in Champaign-Urbana since last summer, is still being shown at the Savoy 16 theater complex in Savoy.

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