GUN BARREL CITY -- MovieStar Cinema has gone the way of Seven Points' Main Place Cinema, Blockbusters and grocery store movie kiosks on Cedar Creek Lake.
For at least the time being, residents and vacationers in Cedar Creek Lake wanting to watch a movie will need to depend on Internet and cable providers. It is unclear whether the closing of the theater will be temporary or permanent, according to local observers.
The theater's management posted a simple notice on the front door this week that said, "MovieStar Cinema is closed. Thank you Cedar Creek -- Mgt." The theater operated by Select Cinemas of Tulsa, OK, posted the notice Wednesday, July 31.
Select Cinemas' website, which notes the corporation builds "quality, cost-efficient movie theaters in underserved markets" with populations of 20,000 to 200,000, no longer lists the Gun Barrel City theater as one of its locations. The corporation's theaters operate in concert with satellite businesses in shopping centers to attract mutual traffic, according to the website.
MovieStar Cinema opened in 2009 in the Heritage Cove development, which apparently failed to live up to expectations. Only three businesses are operating in the development now: LaQuinta Inns & Suites, Extreme Barbecue and Aaron's rental company.
However, the theater appeared to be a popular entertainment spot.
Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corp. acting president Linda Rankin said the agency would like to see another company reopen the theater if the current owners cannot restructure their debt. The agency is willing to help financially with the cost of converting to digital projectors that are now required by movie distribution companies, she said.
Expenses related to a lawsuit between the theater owners and the Heritage Cove developer reportedly helped lead to the demise of MovieStar Cinema, rather than slow ticket sales. In addition to the cost of upgrading the projectors, there are construction problems inside the building that will need to be repaired.
A Houston bank that loaned money for its construction will be in charge of the theater's future.
"Right now the owners and the bank are at odds with one another due to the high debt on the business," Rankin said. "That coupled with the building needing repairs and digitalization, both of which are very costly, the owners are not likely to invest any further revenue to keep the doors open.
"We hope that the bank will work with us to either find a new owner, find a company to lease the theater and reopen it, or some other scenario that would open the doors.
"This is extremely important to GBC because it is the greatest source of entertainment in the lake area and adds so much value to the quality of life that we need. I expect it will be 30-days before we can do anything except lay out some plans once we know who we will be working with."
The Heritage Cove development also is threatened by erosion problems near a water channel adjacent to it, according to East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District officials.
Many Cedar Creek Lake businesses are struggling to keep their doors open because of the persistent drought that has caused the lake to drop far below full pool and decreased tourist traffic and weekenders visits. The lake is now more than five-foot below normal level.
At the height of the drought in 2011 the lake dropped to more than eight-foot low, but unexpected winter rains in 2012 filled it back up for that year's high season. Local residents and business owners are hoping for another such pleasant surprise this year.