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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Gator Cinemas mysteriously closes curtains for the last time

<p>Gator Cinemas, located off West Newberry Road next to the Oaks Mall, remains closed as dust and cobwebs build up inside.</p>

Gator Cinemas, located off West Newberry Road next to the Oaks Mall, remains closed as dust and cobwebs build up inside.

A Gainesville movie theater abruptly shut down about two months ago and has yet to reopen.

In the ticket window of Gator Cinemas, off West Newberry Road next to the Oaks Mall, sits an 8-by-12-inch sign with these words: “Renovations are underway. Please bear with us.” They are typed next to a cartoon grizzly bear.

The majority of tenants in the complex said there have not been any signs of life at the theater since it closed about two months ago.

“One day they were putting up new movies on the marquee, and a week later they were closed,” said Katrina Bass, an employee at Jason’s Deli five doors down from the theater.

Some of the theater’s employees used to eat at the deli, Bass said.

After it closed, the employees offered the theater’s remaining boxes of candy to nearby Jason’s Deli workers. Bass said she asked the employees who delivered the candy if the theater was reopening. She said they told her it was “closed for good.”

The doors to the theater were unlocked Tuesday afternoon, but nobody was inside. Despite the dust piling up on the counters and cobwebs entangled in the popcorn machines, the place still looked like a movie theater.

Three of the four theaters’ aisles were still lit. A 6-foot movie poster of “21 Jump Street” and “Men in Black III” still hung from the ceiling, and other smaller posters lined the walls. Boxes to dispose used 3-D glasses still stood in the hallways.

Virginia Fisher, a representative for the complex’s landlord company, Southern Management and Development LLC, said she was told not to comment on the situation at Gator Cinemas. She said she did not know if the theater was reopening.

The phone at Gator Cinemas has been disconnected, and the manager could not be reached.

“Nobody really knows what’s going on,” said Danielle Parker, owner of Family Christian Stores, located next to the theater. “One day they were here. The next day they were gone. And we haven’t seen anyone there since.”

New owners took over Gator Cinemas in January 2010, according to Florida Department of State Corporations. The owner lives in New York.

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Contact Adrianna Paidas at apaidas@alligator.org.

Gator Cinemas, located off West Newberry Road next to the Oaks Mall, remains closed as dust and cobwebs build up inside.

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