Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Neon lights illuminate the box office at Regal Ithaca Mall, on Jan. 24. Regular moviegoers are lamenting over the theater's closing, slated for the coming weeks.

January 25, 2023

Curtains are Set to Close on the Ithaca Mall Regal Cinema

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Regal Ithaca Mall Stadium 14 is set to turn off its projectors in the coming weeks after its parent company Cineworld announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, according to a report by Business Insider.

On Jan. 17, Cineworld detailed its plan to reject the leases of 39 Regal theaters nationwide starting Feb. 15. Regal did not respond to requests for comment about whether the reports on the Ithaca location’s closing are accurate. 

The Ithaca Mall location has held a movie theater since 1976 and opened as a Regal Cinema in 2007. Cornell students have expressed deep sadness over the announced closing of the largest movie theater within a TCAT ride from campus.

“I saw going to the movie theater as being a chance to escape for a couple of hours and forget about everything else that’s going on,” said Jacob Gonzalez ’26, who would see a movie about once a month. “Classes can be very hard at Cornell, and it was really comfortable being able to just go out and disappear for about two and a half hours and get to watch a great movie and eat some popcorn. I think that was really important for a lot of people.”

Although there are other theaters in town, students told The Sun that Regal’s movie offerings were better for movie-goers who want a wide variety of blockbuster films. 

“I would prefer to have a Regal theater. I’m from New York City, and we have Regal a lot, so it’s definitely a different experience,” said Lina Liu ’25, who recently picked up a film minor and was excited to watch the latest blockbusters at Regal.

Cinemapolis is located in Downtown Ithaca and specializes in independent, foreign and locally-produced films. There is also Cornell Cinema, which plays classic Hollywood and foreign films, documentaries, silent films, cult classics, experimental work and recent Hollywood and arthouse movies.

Gonzalez expressed concerns about these theaters’ niche demographics. 

“Now that there’s no big movie theater that has some of the bigger movies, like Marvel movies, I think it’s not a good thing,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of people are going to have to find other stuff to do. There’s definitely a lot of other things to do, but that just takes away one of the big activities.”

According to Cinemapolis Executive Director Kate Donohue, the five-screen theater has not shown Marvel movies in the past, but it could be a possibility in the future.

“Cinemapolis is evolving with the movie industry,” Donohue said. “We are really committed to playing a wide variety of movies that are enriching but also entertaining for the whole community.”

Students who purchased the Regal Unlimited pass for $18.99 a month are feeling particularly devastated. Rayvaughn Brown ’26 would frequent the Regal theater weekly to see the latest films, with trips in the Ithaca Mall becoming part of his routine.

For Jakene Reaves ’26, the unlimited pass meant visits to the theater almost every other day over the summer. He participated in the Pre-Collegiate Summer Scholars program, leaving him with plenty of time to watch movies. Reaves has gone to the movies once or twice a week since the beginning of the school year. 

“The biggest value [of the Regal theater] is we don’t have any other options, so it’s a great place — if people like watching movies — to go congregate with their friends,” Reaves said. “Not that many people were going there, but at least it was the place to go. Now that there is no place to go, you just can’t watch movies. You’re either forced to stream or forced to go to Syracuse,” he continued, referring to the nearest Regal north of Ithaca.

Frequent movie-goers noticed low showings for most films, with the exception of opening nights and on National Cinema Day, when all tickets were $3. Reaves said on most occasions, it was just him and a few others in a theater.

The Regal cinema has left lasting impacts on Cornell alumni. Violet Fermin ’13 still has memories of spending time with close friends at the theater. After seeing a highly-anticipated Tyler Perry movie, she recalls missing the last TCAT back to campus.

“We had to walk back to campus in the dark from the theater, super late at night, and we were making jokes about it, but we were also a little bit nervous, but we made it back okay,” Fermin said. “It’s one of those things where I can look back and smile that that was a memory I made while in college. It’s one of the ones that stuck with me.”

Many students said they plan to see a few more movies before the anticipated closing of the Regal theater. A few said they hope the theater remains open until at least Feb. 17, when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is set to open.

”I know Cornell students sometimes like to playfully tease our school about being in the middle of nowhere. And that’s not necessarily true,” Fermin said. “Ithaca is wonderful and there’s a lot of experiences that are really unique to Ithaca. But if you want a more mainstream experience, like to go to the mall and see a movie, there’s one place for that.”

Signs depict some of the final blockbuster movies to play at Regal Ithaca Mall on Jan. 24. (Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor)