The Cinemark Theater complex in downtown Evanston, which closed along with countless movie theaters nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, will not be reopening.

City Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak tells Evanston Now that Cinemark has permanently closed the theater, and the lease has been terminated.

Zalmezak says city staff will be contacting the property owner as soon as possible to discuss next steps. “A multiplex is vital for downtown,” he says. “Its replacement is a top priority.”

Cinemark’s website lists nine theater locations within about 25 miles of Evanston. As of this morning seven of them were listed as open, one, in Bloomingdale, was listed as permanently closed, and the Evanston location was still listed as “temporarily closed.”

Analysts see cinemas as facing a new level of competition from in-home entertainment options, even once the pandemic is over.

But prices for stocks of top theater owners rose yesterday after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said theaters there can reopen next month with limited capacity.

Cinemark shares, which had been trading below 10 last October, rose to close at 23.10 on Monday.

Cinemark is the third largest cinema chain in the U.S. by number of screens, after AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group.

Update 10 a.m. 2/24/21: Annie Coakley, of the Downtown Evanston marketing group, tells Evanston Now that she’s been on “back to back calls with operators that are interested” in taking over the site and keeping a movie theater in town.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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