In Bozeman, Montana, the Regal Cinemas have been a part of downtown for decades. But as of late they have been experiencing some difficulties, and it looks like their future is uncertain.
Now this isn’t the first time that cinemas have struggled to stay open in our town. In fact, Bozeman has had a difficult time showcasing its shows because it’s not exactly a huge movie city.
But in recent years, with the growing audience for independent films and the thriving local film scene, it seems like this is an opportunity for a cinema to really take off in Bozeman.
However, when we look at the Regal Cinemas in town, we find that they consistently have a poor turnout. The majority of their showings are children’s films or older films that anyone can see at any time of day on Netflix.
They’re doing a poor job marketing to the youth and the cinema-lovers of Bozeman.
There was a huge buzz when it was announced that Regal Cinemas were going to be opening up downtown in September 2014.
The owners of the theater, Drew and Jody Hansen, are actually some of the owners of the Grand Avenue Mall which is where they are located.
The hope was that they would draw in new business after opening up.
However, it seems like this has not been the case. There are many places to eat at on Grand Avenue, making it easy for people to grab dinner before or after the movie.
This has created a hole in which Regal Cinemas fills, but not with an audience that wants to watch movies they can see on their phones or at home for $90 less per year than they pay to see movies in theaters.
The bozeman movie theater is a nice place to go and enjoy a good time with family and friends. The experience of going to the movies was one that my family always loved.
There are some points that outline why this project might not be opening up anytime soon.
Regal Cinemas learned that it was over budget.
Cinemas are expensive. They cost in the range of $40-$70 million. The last few months in Bozeman, Regal Cinemas has learned that they are over budget.
An insider revealed to me that when they were approved, the state passed along the wrong square footage for the site plan.
Regal is now working on getting approval for an increase in square footage so they can proceed, but it’s proving to be difficult.
Regal Cinemas is changing its business model.
It is looking to be more like its competitor Carmike Cinemas. The company is looking to be more like Carmike Cinemas because Carmike makes more money than Regal does by running larger complexes with multiple screens.
Regal wants to be more like Carmike Cinemas and therefore is considering a different business model. The business model would include tax breaks and/or cash incentives.
The land Regal Cinemas wants to use has not been evaluated.
Unfortunately, the land Regal is looking for isn’t zoned successfully for the second story or parking garage planned on-site.
With this information, it is hard to say when Regal will get the zoning approved for this site plan.
Building on an older site plan has increased costs.
The previous site plan was approved in both 2010 and 2011. This meant that the costs to actually purchase the land along with building on an old site plan has increased this project significantly.
Regal Cinemas is fighting with the city of Bozeman over traffic on West Main Street.
There are two main roads cutting off traffic for this project; West Main Street (US Highway 191) and Harrison Avenue (Montana Highway 12). If people can’t get on either of these roads, they won’t be able to go home after enjoying a movie at this new theater.
The city of Bozeman is refusing to allow Regal Cinemas to put off ramps on West Main Street; therefore, this is one of the key reasons why the project might not move forward any time soon.
Unfortunately, Regal Cinemas has learned that their movie theater is over budget and need to change their business model.
The increase in costs has caused them to question whether this project should move forward at all; possibly abandoning the location altogether.
If this happens, it will be devastating for Bozeman residents who were hoping to see a new theater open up. This means that if the company continues on their current path, they will need an alternative solution for their community.
Another option might be for Regal to ask Bozeman for a tax incentive or cash Grant to offset the costs. In fact, Gallatin County Commissioner Chris Mehl told me that “Bozeman would be receptive to helping pay for the project”.