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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas in the News   » Curtain falls on Colleyville (TX) theater

   
Author Topic: Curtain falls on Colleyville (TX) theater
Brad Miller
Member

Posts: 122
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted January 20, 2008 01:43 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller         Edit/Delete Post 
linkey linkey

quote:
Curtain falls on Colleyville theater
By MELISSA VARGAS and DAVID WETHE
Star-Telegram staff writers

COLLEYVILLE -- After almost a year of legal wrangling over millions of dollars in debt related to Northeast Tarrant County's only IMAX theater, the upscale theater-restaurant went dark indefinitely Friday, officials said.

The abrupt shutdown of The Metro Cinema/Indigo Grille surprised patrons because tickets were still being sold online Saturday. Many events, including a Super Bowl-watching party, are still on the reservation books, employees said.

The theater's parent, MC Colleyville Realty, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization late last year, which was related to more than $8 million owed to companies that helped start the luxurious theater.

Many employees, some of whom have stuck with the theater since it opened in August 2006, have not been paid for months.

Dustin Woodward, 23, manager of production for seven months, said the business had been in turmoil recently, unable to pay bills. Employee paychecks bounced regularly, he added.

"I'm looking for another job," Woodward said, standing outside the theater Saturday as would-be customers turned away, puzzled by the signs taped to locked doors that read, "Temporarily closed until further notice."

Showtimes were listed on the company's Web site through Thursday.

Owner William E. Baldridge did not return phone calls Saturday. A recording on his phone indicated that the voice mailbox was full. IMAX officials declined to comment.

Upscale and glitzy

Six screens, including an IMAX theater, private viewing rooms, a martini bar and sophisticated fare, were among the amenities Metro Cinema promised would lure 200,000 more visits to the city each year.

Elegant dinner was offered at the Indigo Grille restaurant or in any of the theaters while patrons lounged in luxurious overstuffed recliners or family-friendly booths, the company site states.

The 28,940-square-foot theater-and-restaurant complex had seating for almost 1,000 people.

Baldridge professed to offer moviegoers "a total cinema experience combined with upscale dining and cocktails," according to Dallas County court documents. The theater was supposed to be an anchor for the mixed-use Town Center Colleyville development, which opened in 2003.

In June 2005, the City Council approved an incentive package for the IMAX theater, providing a $100,000 grant to the business over the next five years. Under the terms of the grant, the city would reimburse the business for money it spent on promotional expenses.

Court battles

Baldridge apparently had hoped the 2007 holiday season would save the theater.

"The months of November and December are historically the largest revenue months for theaters throughout the United States," he said in a Nov. 16 bankruptcy court filing. He added that his theater brought in revenues of at least $332,000 for each of the two months in 2006.

"I expect to meet or exceed these amounts of gross collections during November and December this year," Baldridge said.

Baldridge and his various companies associated with the theater have been tied up in court for most of last year. He sued one of the consultants who helped start the Indigo Grille, and he has been sued by two different construction companies and an equipment provider, accused of failing to make a total of more than $1.5 million in payments. According to bankruptcy filings, American National Bank of Texas, which holds the property's deed of trust, is owed the most: $5.4 million.

The signs

Employees say changes in the theater's day-to-day operations offered hints of the depth of financial problems.

Vendors of food and other supplies stopped taking checks and demanded cash on delivery, employees said.

John Thuener, 20, a captain server and projection operator at the theater since it opened, said Metro Cinema sometimes couldn't pay for movies or the electricity bill.

Checks were often late or couldn't be cashed, and low morale resulted in many employees quitting their jobs, he said. Now many of the 125 remaining employees are without paychecks, several say.

"We make a lot of money," Thuener said. "I don't know where it goes."

On Wednesday, the electricity was cut off, Woodward said.

The bill was paid and power was turned back on in time for what turned out to be the last showing.

On Thursday afternoon, someone who said he was with the state comptroller's office confiscated five computers, he said. Some employees stayed to turn moviegoers away.


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Mark Richey
Member

Posts: 90
From: Fort Worth, TX
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted January 21, 2008 08:59 AM      Profile for Mark Richey   Author's Homepage   Email Mark Richey         Edit/Delete Post 
Wow...I'm surprised, but can't say I'm shocked.

My boyfriend and I went to see Beowulf at the IMAX in December. While it's hard to judge a theater's popularity based on a weekday evening, the place was very dead. Aside from one other patron in Beowulf with us, we didn't see any other customers.

He went back a few weeks later to see Charlie Wilson's War, and told me he thought the food was too expensive for the quality (full disclosure: He works for a competing movie/restaurant company).

The area the theater is in is pretty upscale, and the nearest first run theaters are all several miles away, so it should have succeeded. It doesn't help that the theater is completely hidden from Colleyville Blvd. Indeed, my part-time job is right across the street, and it was several months before I realized the theater was back there.

Since the shopping center the theater is in is nearly completely full, I suspect that the space won't remain dark for long. Whether it comes back as a theater is another question.

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John Robert
Member

Posts: 135
From: Addison, TX
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted January 21, 2008 11:31 PM      Profile for John Robert   Email John Robert         Edit/Delete Post 
KDFW/4 news report (with video)

Two employees are interviewed, a manager and a chef. The manager says there have been many bounced paychecks and cut-off utilities, while the chef and his co-workers are still waiting to get paid from the holiday season. Some customers were mad that the online ticketing was still selling seats even though the doors have closed.

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John Robert
Member

Posts: 135
From: Addison, TX
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted February 04, 2008 11:17 PM      Profile for John Robert   Email John Robert         Edit/Delete Post 
new Dallas Morning News article

Colleyville IMAX theater for sale in foreclosure auction
Owner filed for bankruptcy one year after opening

09:16 PM CST on Monday, February 4, 2008

By MARICE RICHTER / The Dallas Morning News
mrichter@dallasnews.com

The shuttered IMAX movie theater in Colleyville is expected to be auctioned off in a foreclosure sale today.

Metro Cinema and Indigo Grille abruptly shut down last month, about six months after its owner filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The theater and restaurant – which allowed patrons to dine and watch a movie at the same time – opened as a high-profile anchor of Colleyville's Town Center in August 2006.

A year later, the theater's holding company, MC Colleyville Realty, filed for bankruptcy.

Colleyville city officials said they have been unable to reach to MC Colleyville Realty president Bill Baldridge and have no information about the fate of the theater.

"The community wants it to be open," Colleyville economic development director Scott Welmaker said. "From what we could tell, it did good business."

Chris Moser, an attorney for MC Colleyville Realty, said the bankruptcy case is complicated and involves a variety of entities.

Today's foreclosure sale at the Tarrant County Courthouse will involve the building along with a defaulted land lease to property owner Melvin & Martindale.

"It's kind of a worst-case scenario being that whoever buys this is buying a defaulted ground lease," Mr. Moser said.

Bankruptcy records indicate that MC Colleyville Realty owed about $8 million in unpaid debt, including $5.4 million to American National Bank of Texas. The bank, which holds the deed of trust, is the largest creditor in the case.

Recent calls to Mr. Baldridge's office were not answered.

Metro Cinema had six movie screens, including a state-of-the-art IMAX screen. The facility served upscale food and also had a martini bar.

Despite a plethora of movie theaters in northeast Tarrant County, city officials said Metro Cinema filled a niche because it had the only IMAX screen in the area and offered the benefit of dining and movie-going at the same time.

The city had an incentive agreement with Metro Cinema that would have been worth up to $165,000 for providing IMAX educational programming for students and cultural events. Metro Cinema never met any of the requirements or collected any money, Mr. Welmaker said.

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