Art Theater closing1

A farewell message was put up Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, on the marquee of the Art Theater in downtown Champaign. 

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CHAMPAIGN — A federal judge is giving the trustee assigned to the bankruptcy of the Art Film Foundation an extension to appraise the downtown theater’s assets.

At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Mary Gorman granted more time to trustee Kristin Wilson, who has hired an appraiser.

Art Theater building owner serves notice to regain possession

David Kraft, owner of the property at 126 W. Church St., is seeking more than $9,900 in unpaid rent he says the theater owes him, plus 15 percent of rent for the six years left on the lease.

In a motion, Kraft's lawyer, Joseph Chamley, said that would amount to about $60,000.

Another hearing is scheduled for February if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.

“I’m in close communication with Mr. Chamley and with counsel for the debtors, and we’re working to resolve this as quickly as we can,” Wilson said at Wednesday’s hearing.

The attorney for the theater, Cristina Manuel, did not comment.

The Art Theater closed abruptly in late October and filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 5.

A Nov. 19 filing showed that the foundation reported assets estimated at $40,444 and liabilities estimated at $41,575.

In announcing the closing of the theater, Art Film Foundation interim Executive Director Rhiannon Bettivia said “the film industry is changing, and we will face systemic challenges that show no signs of abating.”

A meeting of creditors is also scheduled for next week.

Creditors with unsecured claims included a number of film distributors, such as Fox Searchlight, Greenwich Entertainment, IFC Films, Magnolia Pictures, Neon Rated LLC, the New York International Children’s Film Festival, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Swank Motion Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Studios. They generally were owed between $250 and $2,672.