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New Jersey movie theater closing after nearly 100 years in business

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Posted at 1:37 PM, Nov 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-14 13:44:15-05

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, N.J. — A family owned movie theater in New Jersey is closing for good after nearly 100 years of business.

Fred Rast, owner of Atlantic Cinemas in Atlantic Highlands, announced Saturday that the theater would close on Sunday. He blamed the evolving film industry and streaming giants like Netflix as well as state minimum wage laws and coronavirus restrictions for the 99-year-old theater’s demise.

“It causes my wife and I great pain to close after serving the community for so many years. It has become a staple in our town, but unfortunately we are left with no choice,” Rast said in a statement.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey in August found 78% of small business owners said the economy was “average," “somewhat average," or “very poor."

Rast said tens of thousands of dollars were spent on maintaining the theater and equipment, reopening expenses and other costs such as insurance, utilities and property taxes, only to bring in about $1,000.

The economic upheaval caused by the pandemic has also put a strain on major movie theater chains.

More than 530 Regal cinemas across the U.S. were temporarily closed in October, affecting about 45,000 employees. Parent company Cineworld Group Plc. said there were not enough blockbusters being released to attract customers.

Theater chain AMC, meanwhile, has reportedly warned it could run out of money by the end of the year amid a reduced movie slate in the fourth quarter and a drastic drop in ticket sales.