ENDICOTT, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) Cinema Saver, which has been offering discount movies in Endicott for nearly three decades, will be closing at the end of July.
Owners Amber and Bruce Gregory have made the difficult decision to close the five-screen theater because it is no longer financially feasible.
The Gregorys say that the health of their business never recovered following the pandemic, not because the revenue did not return, but because expenses have gone up dramatically.
Co-Owner Amber Gregory says, “We are saddened about this news, but we have struggled after COVID to stay profitable, to become profitable, to in any way make our numbers work, and they just aren’t.”
That includes the increased minimum wage and the rising cost of electricity, candy and other concessions and the movies themselves.
Cinema Saver was founded by Amber’s sister in 1994 as a second run discount movie house.
Amber, who had been running other movie theaters since she was 19, took over operations in 1998 and continued the theater’s legacy of affordable ticket prices and concessions, hosting birthday parties and partnering with local organizations on special events.
Bruce joined the business in 2018.
Co-Owner Bruce Gregory says, “Movies are streaming quicker. The second run window disappeared so that’s why we went first run. People have not come to the movies quite as much as they were.”
More significant than a loss in revenue has been the skyrocketing expenses including higher costs for wages, electricity, candy and other concessions and the movies themselves. Throughout its existence, the theater has provided special shows for the Broome Developmental Center and ACHIEVE and offered sensory screenings for people with special needs.
Co-Owner Amber Gregory says, “We’ve been doing that since we opened our doors and we still do it today. I think that’s what really set Cinema Saver apart. That and how much we love it, how much we respect and love our customers, our great customer service. I just think that throughout the years it’s really shined through.”
Coming out of COVID, and with the movie industry’s pivot toward releasing films early to streaming, the theater switched to first run films, which has increased their costs.
Cinema Saver has set Thursday July 27th as its final date.
The Gregorys are selling the building, which had previously been the Burt’s Department Store Annex, to a developer who plans to convert it into housing.
For Amber, it’s bittersweet, having started running movie theaters since before Cinema Saver when she was just 19. She says she’ll miss the community of loyal customers.
Co-Owner Amber Gregory says, “I love movies, I love the movie business. I have no regrets and I have no complaints. It’s been fun. A fun, fun job to have throughout most of my life but I am ready to move onto a new career.”
The Gregorys say they are aware of, and supportive of, an effort by a group calling themselves Twilight Cove to crowd source funding to turn the theater into a non-profit movie, music and theatrical venue.
However, they say that group is too late to the game as a contract has been signed to sell to the real estate developer.
Now that the sale is nearly finalized, the Gregorys want to let their customers with gift cards know that they have two more months left to redeem them.
And they say there are plenty of great movies coming out over the next two months including The Little Mermaid, and Transformers and Indiana Jones sequels.
For tickets and showtimes, go to cinemasaver.com.