A Barberton landmark will go dark Tuesday.
Lake Cinemas 8 will go out of business that night, victims of aging equipment and not enough ticket revenue for repairs, the owner announced Friday.
Ironically, the closing comes after a “slight profit” in 2012, according to Phil Canfora Sr. of Lake Entertainment Group Inc.
“This would be the best year in five,” he said.
The city owns the building at 588 W. Tuscarawas Ave. and has been negotiating with Canfora for a new lease or sale that would provide needed upgrades to the heating and cooling system.
The theater also is being pressured by the movie industry to upgrade to digital projections, which are cheaper for the movie makers.
Canfora said he offered $400,000 to buy the building but the city wanted at least $100,000 more.
A Beacon Journal correspondent tried to reach Barberton Mayor Bill Judge but her call was not returned.
“We had a tough decision last night, but we have been working on this for a year,” Canfora said.
The last film will be Tuesday night, but he is uncertain which movie that will be.
“To the people of Barberton, this is a quality of life issue,” Canfora said. “They don’t want to go to Montrose [the closest remaining movie theater].”
Charlotte Roman, 69, of Barberton, agrees.
She came out of a showing of Lincoln and told a reporter, “It’s going to be missed. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl when I saw Creature From the Black Lagoon.”
Pat Justham, who was with Roman at the show, said she liked the cheap tickets for seniors, just $5 for some showings.
“We feel very comfortable with it,” she said.
Bob Mauger, another moviegoer Friday, said he is concerned for the direction of downtown Barberton. He criticized the decision not to put a marquee on the back of building, facing the parking lot off Wooster Road.
“People don’t see it here, so it’s doomed,” he said.
He also complained that he has seen panhandlers outside the theater.
“If you have a family, do you want that?” he asked.
The theater was a fancy “Art Moderne” building when it opened in 1938 and some of the wall decorations from that day remain. The first movie shown at the theater back in the beginning when it had one screen and 1,000 seats was Sergeant Murphy starring Ronald Reagan and Mary Maguire.
It closed for the first time in 1980 after a showing of And Justice for All starring Al Pacino, Jack Warden and John Forsythe. After sitting empty for more than a decade, it was renovated and reopened in 1994.
Now the city is faced with finding a new owner and possible a new use.
Jordan Kabellar, 19, is a shift manager at the theater and said he expects to land on his feet after the closing.
He has another part-time job and will ask for more hours.
He might not come back.
“Quite honestly, I have no reason to come back to Barberton.”
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Correspondent Courtney Kerrigan contributed to this story.