Branford Theater will shut down Jan. 2, employees say


BRANFORD — The Regal Branford is heading into the final photo show, which is scheduled to end on Sunday, employees at the East Main Street multiplex theater told Hearst Connecticut Media on Tuesday.

Samantha Bruneau, who has worked at the theater for five years, called the closure “rather sad.”

“Since the pandemic, we’re just not where we used to be with the numbers,” Bruneau said while working as a ticket taker on Tuesday afternoon. “We were always very busy up to this point.”

The theater manager declined to comment on how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. He referred all questions to Regal’s U.S. headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., where several phone calls from Hearst Connecticut Media seeking comment went unanswered.

The 12-screen theater opened in 1998 as Hoyt’s Cinema. It became a Regal Theater when the Tennessee-based chain acquired Hoyt’s, which was owned by an Australia-based company, in March 2003.

A British company, Cineworld, announced in December 2017 that it was acquiring the Regal channel for $8.6 billion.

Perry Maresca, director of economic and business development for Branford, said Regal officials did not notify the city of the closure.

“It’s not uncommon for that to happen unless the company that’s closing is looking for some sort of concession,” Maresca said.

Due to the theater’s location at Exit 55 of Interstate 95 and its intersection with Route 1, he said the property is unlikely to remain vacant for long.

“It’s a prime location and I have a lot of developers coming to me looking for places to build,” Maresca said.

Public health restrictions associated with the pandemic “have dealt a heavy blow to movie theaters,” said David Cadden, professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business.

“Everything temporary bounce cinemas experienced before the resurgence of the pandemic is going to be frustrated,” Cadden said.

Redecorating a movie theater for another commercial use “will require a significant overhaul,” he said.

“You have a big, empty box with sloping floors, which you should do something with,” Cadden said of the typical multiplex theater design. “It may mean that the real estate under the building is much more valuable than the building itself.”

Sue Braden Hull contributed to this story. [email protected]


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