SANTA CRUZ – As one theater door closes, another opens.
The Regal 9 Cinema in downtown Santa Cruz was reported to have shuttered its doors for good in February. The theater hasn’t been in operation since Oct. 9, but neither city officials or Regal Corporate could confirm the closure of the movie theater.
Now, confirmation of the cinema’s permanent closure came in the form of the building’s revival under a new name. West Wind Drive-Ins is taking control of the building and renaming it Santa Cruz Cinema.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to reopen this theater and serve the Santa Cruz community,” said Vice President of Operations Nancy Crane in a statement. “With the support of the Mayor, the City Council, the City’s Economic Development team and, of course, the community, we are confident this theater will remains in business for a long time.”
The San Rafael-based company has had success with movie theaters in the past. The first theater the company operated was the Rita in Vallejo in 1941. Since then, the Rita has become the fourth largest chain in the U.S., according to a press release from the company. West Wind Drive-ins is also the largest operator of drive-in theaters in the U.S.
The theater is set to open Thursday. The recent return to the red “substantial” tier for Santa Cruz County allows movie theaters to operate at 25% capacity. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., according to the release.
West Wind has been working on renovating the theater and preparing it for public use for the first time since October.
“The outpouring from the community has been heartwarming,” Crane said. “We’ve been here the last few weeks getting the theater ready and people have approached us with words of appreciation and encouragement.”