UNION — After 19 years in operation the Union Square Cinemas has been forced to close its doors due to the movie industry’s embrace of digital technology.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, owner Tradd Bruce announced that the decision to close the theater was made after the Labor Day Weekend.
“It is with great sorrow I am announcing today that Union’s theater has closed,” Bruce stated, pointing out that the decision to close the theater has been a long time in coming. Bruce said that the closing of theater was due to the movie industry’s decision to release new movies in digital rather than 35mm. He added that this problem was not unique to Union Square Cinemas, but is shared by theaters in small towns throughout the country.
“This past year has been a struggle due to 35mm films being phased out and all new Hollywood releases going to digital format. This change was forced on all theaters by Hollywood film studios. It has been several years in the making, and it has increasingly become harder for many small towns to retain their theaters, just like Union.”
Bruce said that with Hollywood’s conversion to digital it became harder and harder for Union Square Cinemas to get enough movies in 35mm that it could show, a struggle that reached its climax this summer and lead to the theater’s closing on Monday.
“We opened for business on June 23, 1995 and operated until today — over 19 years. We struggled this summer to even keep enough film to keep each of our six screens showing movies. As summer had ended and there are fewer films released, the numbers that are released in digital has only increased. We kept Union’s theater open during this transition hoping there would be a solution for the many small town theaters that would have allowed the 35mm films to continue.”
No such solution appeared, however, and Bruce said that as result “all summer we continued to miss blockbuster movies because they were made in digital only.”
While theaters that have traditionally shown 35mm films can be converted over to showing movies in the digital format, Bruce said that it is not cost-effective for a small town theater like Union Square Cinemas to do so.
Bruce said he has no plans to dismantle the theater, but will instead contact some regional theater chains to see if any of them are interested in coming in and converting Union Square Cinemas over to digital and reopening it.
At the time of its closing, Union Square Cinemas had three full-time employees who Bruce said will continue to work there for a couple of more weeks to complete shutting it down. The rest of the theater’s workforce were part-time employees, many of them teenagers who Bruce said usually returned to school at the end of the summer.
Bruce concluded by thanking the people of Union County for supporting Union Square Cinemas and expressed his hope that the community will one day again have a movie theater.
“This theater has been a labor of love for so many years for me and my family. I hope that one day Union will get to enjoy another theater. Thank you for your patronage over the last 19 years.”