Update on the Three Penny Cinema closing

posted by filmjunkie333 on June 28, 2006 at 9:13 am

CHICAGO, IL — The Chicago Sun Times has more detail on why the Three Penny Cinema was shut down last week:

An exasperated City Hall has shut down the Three Penny Cinema on the North Side because of unpaid amusement taxes.

The Three Penny, which has been a movie house since the late 1930s, is one of the few independent cinemas left in the city. Owner Jim Burrows said he’ll have to sell the business unless the city relents and accepts a settlement offer on the overdue taxes.

“But they don’t care. They’ve told me that. They said that if they make an exception for me, then nobody will want to pay this tax,” Burrows said. He estimated owing the city $60,000 for the last five years, or $100,000 counting interest and penalties.

Theaters in this post

Comments (4)

Menutia on June 28, 2006 at 9:45 pm

Isn’t this the same thing that closed the Patio theatre on the west side?


JimRankin on June 29, 2006 at 8:41 am

I hate to be the cold voice of reason here, but Taxes are Taxes, and are hardly unexpected to open-eyed adults. I can’t imagine that Mr. Burrows was unaware of all the taxes his business would be accountable for; he sounds like a mature adult and taxpayer to me. Taxes are part of the process of making a business plan to figure if one can make enough profit to stay in business. Unlike attandance figures, taxes are a foreknown cost of doing business. Was Mr. Burrows negligent in not doing a realistic estimate, or did the market change beyond his control? If the market changed, then he is only suffering as does every other business when such happens.

The city is not to blame unless they created the tax without notice during the time he was in business. His recourse is the same as that of any citizen who doesn’t like what the government does: lobby to have the practice or tax changed, and failing that, work to unseat the affected politicians in the next election. If none of this helps in a democracy, one must move to a land where he can be king or maker of all laws.

I sympathize with Mr. Burrows and any other Exhibitor; making money in the business these days is very tough, especially as a small independent, and I wish there were some magic advice I could give him, but there isn’t. Business is a world of cut throats, but city taxes are not to blame for that. For more insights, read the Archives of the FORUMS at: www.bigscreenbiz.com Best Wishes!

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on July 5, 2006 at 2:48 pm

Jim Rankin, you state the unfortunate cold, hard truth. While I beleive that the city and county amusement taxes are skewed against the small businessman, the owner of the 3 Penny should have been aware that his taxes would be accountable for.

This is the same thing that essentially did in the short-lived Meridian Theatres chain—failure to pay taxes.

But Mr. Bellows also had a liquor license for his theatre and those aren’t cheap. Not to mention the insurance his business would have required with that license. He could have cut his costs without too great a loss in concession revenue by getting rid of his liquor license.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on July 6, 2006 at 11:28 am

Correction—that should be “Mr. Burrows”, not “Bellows.”

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment