Westgate Cinemas to close

posted by Trolleyguy on November 14, 2008 at 5:34 pm

After nearly 30 years anchoring Westgate Mall at the corner of Odana Road and Whitney Way in Madison, Wiscconsin, Westgate Cinema will close.

Milwaukee-based Marcus Theatres leased the space and operated Westgate during those three decades, but the four-screen theater struggled to get the most popular art and independent films after the much-heralded opening of the Sundance Cinemas in the Hilldale Mall in May 2007.

Marcus spokesman Carlo Petrick said Westgate Cinema will close in December, calling Dec. 14 an “unofficial” closing date.

Petrick did not refer to Sundance which, like Westgate, offers a lineup of art and independent films as the reason for the company not renewing its lease at Westgate Mall. Instead, he pointed to a “greatly reduced” number of art and independent films in the last two years. Still, Sundance often attracted the most prominent non-mainstream films, and Westgate would show some of the same films after they were shown at Sundance.

Marcus, however, tried to rejuvenate Westgate Cinema. In recent years, it developed an upscale interior, added a fourth screen, presented live comedy shows with national acts, sold beer and emphasized classic films.

“We did try everything,” Petrick said.

Westgate Mall officials were unable to be reached Thursday.

Petrick said Marcus plans to go ahead with a new 16-screen theater at Highway 151 and Nelson Road near the current Eastgate Cinema, which will be demolished once the new theater is completed. The project, though, remains in the planning stages, Petrick said. Marcus will continue to run Eastgate and Point Cinemas, which have a total of 32 screens, he said.

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