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Published: Thursday, 4/28/2005

2 cinema complexes to close May 5

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The Showcase theaters on Secor Road, which opened in 1964 with two screens, were expanded over the years to five. The Showcase theaters on Secor Road, which opened in 1964 with two screens, were expanded over the years to five.
LONG / BLADE Enlarge

Despite previous plans to redevelop its Secor Road five-screen theater, the dominant theater chain in the Toledo area said yesterday it will close Showcase Toledo theaters and Franklin Park Cinemas on May 5.

The closings occur the day before National Amusements Inc. opens a 16-screen theater inside Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park.

"Obviously we're committed to the Toledo market," said spokesman Brian Callaghan of the Dedham, Mass., theater company.

The mall's cinemas replace three theater complexes, all owned by National Amusements: the one that was torn down last year in front of the mall, called Franklin Mall 6; the Franklin Park complex a mile away at 5235 Monroe St., and the Showcase complex at 3500 Secor Rd., two to three miles southeast of the mall.

The new theater, called the Franklin Park 16, will have the same number of screens as the three complexes it replaces.

Although National Amusements had not admitted it planned to close the Showcase and Franklin Park complexes, the move was expected. The latest cinemas to be closed are near the Westfield mall and don't have stadium-style seating and state-of-the-art sound systems.

The mall theater follows one opened last fall by National Amusements at Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg.

About 80 workers, mostly part-time, who are at the two theaters to be closed will be able to transfer to jobs in the mall's cinemas, Mr. Callaghan said.

What will happen to the sites to be closed is less clear. The company is negotiating with another retailer to use the Monroe Street site, he said. As for the one on Secor Road, he said, "We'll be interested in talking with people who might want to redevelop, utilize, or lease that property."

Neither site will be used for a theater, the company said.

In 2000, National Amusements obtained zoning of the Secor Road site for a proposed 18-screen theater that was to be similar to the Showcase Maumee theaters that it opened in 1997. Those plans were put on hold, however, after Westfield announced its $116 million plans to expand the mall and to include a theater inside.

Showcase Toledo opened in 1964 with twin screens, premiering one of the year's biggest hits, Mary Poppins. It added a 900-seat theater, one of the biggest in the National Amusement chain, and subsequently two screens were divided to make five.

Franklin Park Cinemas opened in 1971 as a twin-screen theater and added a third screen in 1978. The company later divided two screens to have a total of five.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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