Movie theater closure might not be permanent

"The silver screen dimmed last week for movie-goers at General Cinema's Gateway Center location.However, Dan Casey, president of Gateway Center Inc., says he hopes to have the theater running again soon, perhaps in time for weekend movie-goers.The eight-screen theater located in Gateway Center closed Thursday evening, following financial problems that have plagued the theater industry lately. Boston-based General Cinema closed 25 other theaters nationwide that day. Most of those theaters were located in the Southern United States.We and other chains have been closing lately, said General Cinema Spokesman Brian Callaghan. We're closing theaters that were no longer as profitable as they once were.Callaghan cited the intense competition from megaplex movie theaters such as Seattle's Pacific Place. Those theaters often have 10 or more screens, stadium seating and digital sound.Federal Way's other two theaters, owned by AMC, remain open. One is in SeaTac Mall, and the other is north of the mall, across South 320th Street.Despite General Cinema's belt-tightening, Casey cited a corporate guarantee for someone to step in and operate the theater, at least for three additional years. They have an obligation to operate the theater under the contract, Casey said.However, Callaghan said he didn't know any specifics about General Cinema's lease or what the company's future plans are.Casey said General Cinema had been a good tenant at Gateway Center since its opening about 10 years ago.However, he said he was surprised when he learned of the closure Thursday.It's a mystery to everybody, Casey said. I called a corporate officer to find out what was going on and he didn't know himself.Stacy Keen of Westfair Home Decor & Gifts, also located in Gateway Center, said she found out about the theater's closure through a customer who had tried to go to the movies. I think it's taken people by surprise, Keen said. This happened very quickly. There was no heads up at all.Callaghan says he feels for people who had enjoyed Gateway's General Cinema and shared an important moment there like a first date or their very first movie.Being in this business, we are able to share the good times and fun and leisure time with people, Callaghan said. We don't take that lightly.But Lynda Roether, director of operations for the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, says she is still disappointed by the closure.This is a terrible shame to this community, Roether said. It was a nice, clean place to feel safe in. That was the best place for kids and everyone to go. "

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