Cineworld Group, the British parent company of Regal and the world’s second-largest movie chain, announced the closure of 39 theaters as an attempt to salvage as much of the company as it can after filing for bankruptcy last fall. One of the 39 is Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 in Chinatown—a local favorite among Howard students.
The news of the possible closing has saddened many Howard University students who consider the theater a rite of passage in Washington, D.C., nightlife and culture. Mahlon West, a junior health management major from Atlanta, does not want to say goodbye to a place that holds memories for many students.
“One of my most recent memories was going to see Avatar at that theater. That was one of my favorite movies as a kid, so being able to be a part of that Howard culture and going down there with my friends is a memory I’m going to have for a while so I would hate to see it go,” West said.
Raymir Johnson, who is a junior majoring in honors finance from Philadelphia, sees the theater as a connector of students on campus to all of their favorite movies. Johnson says that seeing Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever at that theater even helped influence his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. in the theme of their award-winning step routine.
“Every movie that I saw in college, I saw at that theater,” stated Johnson plainly.
Upperclassmen and first-year students alike frequent the D.C. location that is easily accessible by Metrorail or Metrobus. Kodi Webb, who is a freshman majoring in kinesiology from Atlanta, is still becoming acquainted with the local movie theater, but already feels connected to its legacy.
“It’s a local Howard thing, and I feel like everyone knows of it even if they haven’t been. I think we should keep it,” Webb said.
With over 9,000 movie screens across 10 countries, Cineworld hopes to save $22 million this year by rejecting the leases of the theaters. None of the theater’s closures, however, are confirmed, according to Regal Customer Relations.
Employees like Ahjahna Thompson, who is a floor staff member at the Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 in Chinatown, are aware of upcoming changes within the company but do not know anything about the popular location closing. She admits that sometimes she even witnesses the staff struggle to keep up with the demands of steady lines of patrons.
“It’s usually crowded here on certain days. We get a lot of people who have been coming here for years, some people come every day to see a movie. Some people even come from different states to see movies,” Thompson said.
Cineworld Group announced in September of 2022 that they would be filing for bankruptcy and blamed the downturn on “subpar” movie attendance. After purchasing Regal Entertainment in 2017, Cineworld Group closed the doors to all 751 of their theaters in 10 countries in March 2020.
Cineworld Group told shareholders that, despite an increase in attendance after theaters closed their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been enough to recover from the estimated $2.7 billion loss in 2020 and a $566 million loss in 2021.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew