Regency Value Cinemas

5230 Durand Avenue,
Racine, WI 53406

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REGENCY Value Cinemas, Racine, Wisconsin, July 6, 2009.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Regency Mall Cinemas were original General Cinema shoebox style theatres. They started with five and increased to eight screens, some really tiny. Marcus runs it now along with the much better Westgate Theatre five-plex a few blocks away.

The fate of both theatres is in question when Marcus opens their new state of the art sixteen-plex, down the road, in Sturtevant in late 2005. In January 2009, Marcus Cinemas announced that the Regency Value Cinemas would close in April 2009. The Cinemas were demolished in July 2009.

Contributed by Don Rosen

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

DonRosen
DonRosen on November 26, 2006 at 7:21 pm

With the new “Marcus Cinema at the Renaissance” now open, this theatre, as of November 17, 2006, is a ‘value cinema’.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on January 20, 2009 at 1:52 am

(Racine Journal Times, January 19, 2009)â€" In the midst of a deep recession, this county’s only budget theater, Regency Cinema, will close in April.

Marcus Theatres Corp. spokesman Carlo Petrick confirmed Monday morning that the budget theater at 5230 Durand Ave. on the fringe of Regency Mall will close when its lease ends in mid-April.

Regency Cinema became a budget theater in November 2006 when the 13-screen Marcus Cinema at the Renaissance opened in Renaissance Business Park.

Asked if the eight-screen Regency has not fared well as a budget cinema, Petrick replied, “It’s a very old theater location and does not have all the amenities of a new theater.” Also, Marcus has the Renaissance to fill that need, he added.

Regency Cinema has no future as a cinema and may be razed, Regency Mall Manager Curt Pruitt said Monday. “We are not seeking another theater operator,” he said.

“We’re exploring razing the building, and Marcus is working with us to make that happen,” but no final decision has been made, Pruitt said.

One option is to demolish the building to make a “totally clean slate to work with as we market that land,” he said.

If the mall’s owners, CBL & Associates Properties, keep the building, the sloped floors would be leveled for another use.

“The value cinema has not made money for Marcus,” Pruitt said.

The theater’s manager could not immediately be reached for comment. But Bob Tapp, 50, an assistant manager who has worked there for 20 years, said he thought the local movie-going population was never fully aware that the Regency had become a “value” cinema. He often met people who expressed surprise when they learned that.

Some, after hearing the theater will close, are somewhat crestfallen, Tapp said. “People are saying, ‘With the economy the way it is, why aren’t you guys staying open?’”

However, Tapp acknowledged Petrick’s point that the Regency has an antiquated floor plan. “The aisle in the middle is an old concept,” and the theater has other outmoded aspects, he said.

General Cinema built the theater and also the now defunct Westgate Theater, Tapp said. Marcus added two screens to the Regency when it took over the theater.

Tapp said the Regency has about 20-25 employees, most of them part-time. He doesn’t know what’s next for him.

“I love working at the movie theater,” Tapp said. “I’ve always loved movies, so this was like a dream job for me.”

Marcus Theatres, a division of The Marcus Corp., is the seventh-largest theater chain in the country and currently owns or operates 679 screens at 56 locations in Wisconsin and the Midwest.

DonRosen
DonRosen on January 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Just my guess…Marcus likes to own their own land where their properties are. The Regency Mall Cinema land was not their’s. Plus, Marcus wants people going to their big investment, The Renaissance, in Sturtevant. Who can blame them? I feel bad the Regency Cinema is closing, but it was not a very good theatre.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on January 21, 2009 at 12:37 am

Here View link is a hometown-paper article with a color photo of the Regency’s echo-Deco facade.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on July 8, 2009 at 12:04 am

Monday, July 6th, 2009: A theater inside Regency Cinema faced a scene of destruction: crumbled bricks, crumpled metal and twisted fiberglass.

The movie screen had been torn down, the seats were empty and the ruins were real â€" the handiwork of a yellow Caterpillar 235C there on Monday to begin demolishing the theater at 5230 Durand Ave., which closed in mid-April. Azarian Wrecking was in charge of the demolition, expected to last two weeks.

Randy Jansen, 44, looked on with a camera around his neck. “If I’d have known the seats were in there I’d have said ‘I’ll buy a row,’” said Jansen, there to take pictures for his wife Melissa, who worked at the theater for 15 years.

Workers from Azarian Wrecking used a backhoe to tear down the former Regency Mall Cinema building on the Monday morning. of July 6, 2009. The theater, at 5230 Durand Avenue in Racine, Wisconsin, was Racine’s last operating movie theatre, and closed in April 2009 when Marcus Theaters Corp. decided not to renew the lease.

Jansen arrived at around 8:45 a.m., and planned to watch until he had to leave for work at around 3:30 p.m. Three other spectators joined Jansen in an otherwise empty parking lot Monday morning.

Jansen’s pictures will add to the couple’s Regency collection from over the years, including from when his wife’s then-young daughter ripped tickets for a bring-your-child-to-work day. He took pictures on the cinema’s last day of operation, too, in mid-April.

That was when the building lease for Marcus Theatres Corp. ran out. Carlo Petrick, communications manager at Marcus, said the building was “antiquated” and “no longer suitable for use as a movie theater.” Regency had been converted to a budget theater in 2006.

Demolishing the building prevents Marcus competitors from taking over the lease, Regency Mall General Manager Curt Pruitt said. It was easier to raze it than to turn it into a different kind of facility, he added.

“It would be so costly, we might as well start with all-new construction and technology,” Pruitt said.

Mall management and the City of Racine are still figuring out what to do next with the land. They have some prospects but no strict game plan, Pruitt said.

At about 9:45 a.m., the “C” and “I” in “CINEMA” had been knocked down from the building’s left side, facing the parking lot. With the upwards swoop of the Caterpillar’s fingers against the beige brick wall, the “N” partially fell, too, contorting into an upside-down heap of metal and wood hanging from the wall.

By 3:15 p.m., the whole sign had been knocked away, along with a large chunk of the building’s left side. Melissa Jansen, off from work, stood in front of the boarded-up front door as Randy took pictures.

“This was my first job,” said Melissa, 40, who was assistant manager there. “When I pulled in the parking lot, my heart just started racing,” as she remembered years of Halloween parties and dressing up for big premieres such as “Grease” and “Batman”.

Bob Tapp, 51, pulled up to the parking lot and joined her. He worked there for 20 years, and he agreed with Petrick’s description of the building as “unique”. “Most of it was over 20 years old,” he said. “They didn’t enjoy coming here to fix stuff.”

As Tapp and Melissa Jansen spoke, Randy drove off for work, with a souvenir brick in the back of his pickup truck.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on November 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

(May 9, 2009)

Racine’s last movie theater to be demolished

The glory days of the Venetian Theatre are long gone in Racine …

Racine’s last movie theater will have one final show within the next month.

The Racine Fire Department, pending approval of the City Council, will use the shuttered Regency Theater, 5230 Durand Ave., for practice drills before the building is demolished, according to Chief Steve Hansen. (The Public Safety and Licensing Committee approved the training Monday night.)

Firefighters will use the old theater, which shutdown last month, to practice forcible entry drills, to cut holes in the building’s roof and to bust through walls to simulate rescuing a trapped victim, Hansen said.

The theater will not be set on fire during the training, he said.

“It’s rare that the (abandoned buildings) come available,” Hansen said. “We try to take advantage of them as quickly as possible.”

Marcus Theatres closed the Regency theater, which had been serving as a budget theater since 2006, at the end of April. The company had announced plans to close the theater in January.

The move shut the door on movie theaters in Racine. Marcus closed the Westgate movie theater in 2006 after opening the 12-screen Renaissance theater on Washington Avenue in Sturtevant. Racine no longer has a theater that shows movies.

Prior to Regency closing, Racine had an active movie theater until at least 1928, when the Venetian Theatre opened Downtown. No date has been set for the Regency theater’s demolition, Hansen said.

Hansen will appear before the Common Council’s Public Safety and Licensing Committee tonight to gain permission for the training. If all goes as expected, the Common Council will give final approval next week and the training, which will involve every member of the department at different times, will occur within four weeks, Hansen said.

There’s no cost for the training, he said.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Thanks Louis,wish there were more pictures.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 19, 2010 at 1:49 am

THANKS SCOTT. Looks like a mix of GCC and REGAL .

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on May 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Requiem for a shoebox cinema:

<http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/article_8b2042f8-73aa-11e0-b6d3-001cc4c002e0.html>

Tales of razed theater keep reels spinning

By Mike Moore, Racine Journal Times

RACINE – Pockmarked by decades-old popcorn oil stains, the bright blue jacket Steve Dodd once wore to work at Regency Cinema looked its age Saturday.

About 20 former employees and movie buffs gathered to reminisce about the former theater and chuckle about old photos taken there, including one of Dodd taking tickets in the same blue coat. Now 45, he stood in an empty field where the cinema stood northeast of Regency Mall and remembered when the place had state-of-the-art technology.

“The lifespan of this building was, like, nothing,” said Dodd, a Mount Pleasant resident who now works for QuadGraphics in West Allis. “It’s amazing to me it has come and gone this quick.”

He did some work at the theater after General Cinema Corp. opened it in the early 1980s and later became a projectionist. Marcus Theatres Corp. converted it to a budget theater in 2006 after building a new multiplex in Sturtevant, but the company soon deemed the Regency building obsolete and it was demolished in July 2009.

Bob Tapp, who spent 21 years of his career at Regency Cinema, wanted to do something as a tribute to Rick Luehr, his longtime co-worker who died last year. Eventually, he said, it “steamrolled” into an event he hoped might serve as a kind of closure for everyone. “When they tore the building down, there wasn’t really an official goodbye,” said Tapp, 52, of Racine.

The former employees recalled the time they ducked into closets and behind the snack counter after a Christmas night fight led to gunshots outside. They joked that police officers seemed to patrol the area more often after the cinema workers began giving them free popcorn.

The regular customers remained fresh in their minds, including one good tipper with purple-tinted hair who insisted her popcorn be made without oil or salt.

But mostly they remembered one another, whether it was the Thursday night sneak peeks at new movies or bringing their kids and friends in to help out.

“It was a close-knit group, so it didn’t feel like work,” said Brian Friedrich, 36, who drove up from Round Lake Beach, Ill., where he’s a property maintenance assistant for The Salvation Army.

Tapp asked the group to write letters to local and mall officials with suggestions for what they’d like to see on the empty lot. Topping his own wish list was another theater.

http://onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres/

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