After it was dark for a year and then reopened last fall, a longtime movie theater in Boise has once again lowered its curtain.
This time the credits rolled continuously.
The Country Club Reel Theater, 4550 W. Overland Road, screened its last films on December 30 before closing. The discount multiplex fell victim to the pandemic, said Eric Denning, co-owner of the regional Reel theaters chain.
“We haven’t been able to recover from the business ramifications of COVID,” Denning said. “It’s not coming back. People just weren’t there, unfortunately.
Reel Theaters continues to operate five multiplexes in Idaho, plus one in Richfield, Utah, one in Ontario, Oregon and one in Anderson, California. In response to the coronavirus, the chain temporarily ceased operations in the fall of 2020. Over time, its theaters have slowly come back to life, including the Country Club Reel. It reopened on October 16, 2021, exactly one year after it closed.
But management quickly realized that the Country Club was showing no signs of a rebound. “We can see as we open up our other locations, trendlines and the like,” Denning said. “This one just didn’t make sense.”
Opened in 1994 as the Boise Reel, the six-screen theater offered first-run films during its first three years. When the bigger, flashier Edwards 21 Theaters debuted at the Boise Spectrum in 1997, Boise Reel turned to second-run movies and a cut-price model. Its name was changed to Country Club Reel in 2002.
By booking movies after they’ve already been shown in first-run theaters, discount theaters appeal to customers with lower prices. Country Club Reel charged $ 3 for general admission. But in an industry facing a smaller audience and changed dynamics, cheap tickets weren’t enough to attract.
Regarded as a discount brand in the Treasure Valley, Reel Theaters has entered luxury cinema in recent years with its Eagle Luxe and Caldwell Luxe locations for the first time.
Reel Theaters has no plans to shut down any of its other theaters, Denning said, “at the moment. I can’t say yes or no anyway, really, in the future. But it seems that people are ready to go back to the movies in some cases.
“Discount theaters are a little harder to sell right now,” he added, “just because studios are still sort of streaming some of their products simultaneously. Before the pandemic, we had a window. 90 day theatrical show that existed, and it doesn’t really exist anymore, it’s kind of been permanently damaged.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Reel Theaters reopened the aging Northgate Reel, 6950 W. State St., as their first operation. The old discount cinema offers the lowest prices for new Treasure Valley movies.
“It holds up,” Denning said. “He still has a long way to go, but we are seeing some good trends. I think people like it.
The same cannot be said of the Country Club Reel, despite its quarter of a century of activity. Speaking by phone, Denning was pragmatic about the situation.
“Actually, I’m here right now. We’re talking about how to dismantle the place, unfortunately, ”he said. “It’s not a very common occurrence.
“It’s sad, just because it was our first theater in Boise. We have a lot of really cool memories here – great memories here – but it doesn’t make sense when it doesn’t work from a business perspective.