By Richard Meek
The Daily News
Published/Last Modified on Friday, December 3, 2010 1:07 AM CST
Washington Parish’s only movie theater may be closing at the end of year, owner Kim Chatellier said.
Chatellier said revenues have been declining and with no improvement she anticipates permanently bringing down the curtain Dec. 31 at Cinemaland, located on Cumberland Street in Bogalusa.
“I’m in debt about $15,000 that needs to be paid in order to keep it going,” said Chatellier, who has owned the theater along with her husband Chad since 2007. “(The debt) will not shut the doors on me tomorrow but we need to get in some revenue,” she added. “Thanksgiving was horrible. I barely brought in enough to pay the employees.
“If the Christmas holidays don’t show us any kind of future in it, we’ll have to close the doors after Christmas. We’ll close the doors the last day of December.”
Bogalusa Mayor-elect Charles Mizell said he’s “concerned with any business closing.”
“However, we still live in a society that supply and demand is what keeps our business going,” he added. “One of the first things that goes in a bad economy are things that are not absolute necessary. There’s not much expendable money out there today.
“And also there’s other options for movie theaters out there today with all of these new electronics.”
Chatellier said the complex houses five mini-theaters with seating for 100 to 237 people, depending on the size. One of the mini-theaters is not functioning and she turned another into a game room for teenagers.
She acknowledged that the theater is lacking the modern electronics and reclining seats of the mega Cineplex in Covington but she’s been hoping Washington Parish residents would keep their entertainment dollars local.
“When a family wants to go to a movie they’re going to drive to Covington,” she said. “They’re going to go out to eat in Covington.
“What people don’t understand is if they don’t come to this one it’s never going to get any better. Keep going to Covington, they are supporting Covington.”
“If you’re going to keep doing that, you might as well move to Covington,” Chatellier added. “Why do people do that? I just don’t understand.”
She said she even employed an aggressive approach to securing first-run movies but even that has not met its goal. The theater is currently showing the latest release in the Harry Potter series but crowds have been disappointing, setting the Chatellliers further into debt.
“We went out on a limb to get Harry Potter,” Chatellier said, adding that the advance to secure a new movie two weeks after its initial release can cost anywhere from $750 to $1000.
“It didn’t do what it should have done,” she said. “We have to put out more money to pay the advance than what we have received. Harry Potter didn’t even get it back and that was the biggest movie of the year.”
If Chatellier shutters the theater one of the city’s few amenities will be gone, a concern for Mizell on several fronts, including economic development.
“The reasons we stay here is because of the quality of life this area has afford us,” he said. “With the loss of some of it, we have a harder time selling economic development. It’s just tough to sell.”
Chatellier said one of her concerns is that closing the theater will mean one less secure environment for teenagers to congregate, especially on the weekends. She said teens makes up the majority of her business on Friday and Saturday.
The theater is open Thursday through Saturday nights.
“Teens, where are they going to go when we close?” Chatellier said. “These kids need this.
“It’s all up to the community, it’s not up to me anymore. It’s hard. It hurts.”