The decline and fall of the Roxy Theatre?

Steeply declining ticket sales are forcing Carl Rankin to consider closing the Roxy Theatre for good. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

Long a pillar of the local entertainment scene, the Roxy Theatre may be in danger of permanently closing its doors.

Ticket sales are falling through the floor and theatre owner Carl Rankin that unless that turns around he’ll be forced to lock the doors. Ticket sales have dropped to an average of 15 customers a day during the week and 30 on weekends.

“A year ago we averaged 30-40 people on weekdays and 150 on weekends,” he said.

Rankin doesn’t know why ticket sales are down — at $7 a ticket they’re certainly not very expensive. What’s more the theatre offers a digital and 3-D film experience that is the equal of any urban multi-plex as well as excellent live Metropolitan Opera and National Theatre productions.

So what is it? Netflix? Not likely. Except for some of its older movies, most of that online service’s flicks are not very tempting. Rankin doesn’t know what the reason is but he suspects it’s a ripple effect from the economy.

People worried about the economy are starting to tighten their belts and when that happens one of the first things to feel a personal budget cut is entertainment.

“I’m hoping things will turn around with the ski season coming up,” he said. “But if it doesn’t have a really significant effect I’ll close the doors in March or April.”

Rankin has in vested a lot of money in The Roxy. About six years ago he purchased top-of-the-line seats and last year he purchased a digital and 3-D film system he still believes gives theatregoers a first-rate film experience.

This is not the first time Rankin has considered getting out of the theatre business. He had the theatre up for sale a couple of years ago. But now it looks as though he’ll simply walk away from it.

“If it closes that will be it for The Roxy,” he said. “It’ll wind up being gutted and turned into condos.”

That would be an ignominious end for a landmark institution.