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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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1/3/2013 1:54:00 PM
Cottonwood Cinema closing

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- The Cottonwood Cinema is turning out the lights this weekend.

It is another reality of the fast-moving technology that the film industry is moving away from celluloid film to digital copies. As part of the last moving picture shows in Cottonwood, the Cinema will present a free appreciation weekend Saturday and Sunday Jan. 5-6, showing Brave at the 5 p.m. show and The Avengers at the 7 p.m. time slot each night.

Some production companies say they will produce no more features in film, and only supply digital copies. The change places a heavy burden on small theaters with little revenue. Steve Orth, who has run the Cottonwood business for eight years, says the costly changeover in not practical for a small theater that really doesn't make much money. The Cottonwood Cinema, a family-operated theater, sometimes fails to fill the theater for shows, with the Harkins 6-plex in Sedona drawing the bigger crowds. Orth believes he loses about 50 percent of a potential clientele to Sedona.

Orth says the cost of conversion to digital is about $75,000 per screen, there is too much uncertainty take the risk.

Orth has not tried to sell the business. "We sell some admissions for $5, which most theaters average about $8 these days. No one wants to work with a small business on that scale."

"I feel like we are letting down the community by closing, but we have been looking at this issue for two years in the midst of a difficult economy, the conversion to digital and the shopping center problems. It was just the right time to close it down."

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Paulette English

I loved the convenience of a local cinema. I had no idea that going to see The Hobbit would be my last show there. Had I known, I would have thanked them and wished them well.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Rollin D`Hay

1.00 to 2.00 old movie classics all weekend long bring some nostalgia to these teens and give them something to do. Cottonwood Rec should help out!!

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Flagstaff Fan

I live in Flagstaff, and hate the monopolistic Harkin chain, so we would sometimes drive to Cottonwood for a movie. Was planning another visit, but found their website down, then this article. Dang... there goes my last alternative. Thanks and best wishes to the owners.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Gregory Aston

I remember when they built that theater about 30 years ago or so, but technology passed them by. The Old Town Theater had a Historic advantage & Harkin's has the Technological advantage, but The Cottonwood Cinema was stuck in the middle. The Old Town Theater customers didn't transition to the Cottonwood Cinema when the Old Town Theater burned.. Sad to see another business closing :(

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Chemin Alldredge

We loved bringing all our kids and their families from Tae Kwon Do Unlimited to watch the latest family Martial Arts movies here. Cottonwood Cinema has always been great supporters, Steve was always so wonderful to work with. We will miss them but wish them the best.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: So Sad

Our family is sad to see the movie theater close. We loved having one here in town and if we were going to a movie, we always picked Cottonwood over Sedona or Prescott. This closing will certainly leave a whole in the entertainment choices here in town.

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: Clarkdale Resident

This is for Mary Jane. If you like Harkins better, why don't you move to Sedona, and if you do, stay there! My family and I would rather go to the local theater than to harkins anyday. We support our local business first. By the time you drive and pay for gas, where is it cheaper?. And the popcorn was NEVER stale. It's people like you that kill small businesses.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Brent L

Sorry to see you go. Thanks for the memories.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Rosella Calistro

Steve...........So sad that you have to close down but understandable. Not only do you have better popcorn with real butter but friendlier staff also. Will miss you!!

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Wisewell50 - Cottonwood

I'm suprised and saddened to read this news. But likely I'm one of many who could have done more to avoid it. My wife and I enjoyed a nice big screen movie and popcorn there but perhaps only once every 3 months or so. The personnel at Cottonwood Cinema were always exceptionally friendly. For us, the competition was not Sedona nor Prescott, but busy schedules and cheap movie rentals to watch on a decent TV at home. The decision to close is based on sound reasoning, but nevertheless we are sorry to see a part of our home town life shutting down. At least you know you left a pleasant taste in our mouths, so to speak. We wish Mr. Orth success as time inexorably moves forward.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

I like the idea of having our own small town bijou, but the truth is that you can go to Harkins in Sedona for $6.50 per ticket and the snack bar is so much cheaper and the popcorn and soda so much better that in the end it's cheaper to drive to Sedona. The Cottonwood Cinema was always hot and uncomfortable in the summer too. Stale popcorn and the overpriced snack bar is what killed this theatre!

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Cottonwood Resident

I will miss this small intimate theater. I remember it making you feel as if the movie you were watching was a private screening just for you and friends around town. To me, it felt like part of home, and I will miss it.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Willis

We will miss you steve and the small town gem so many of us appreciate. Best wishes.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013
Article comment by: Danny Smith

Seems I read an article once about fees paid by the bigger theatre chains in to a fund that was designed to help smaller venues convert to digital. It was a couple of years ago when digital started gaining popularity. i don't remember more info but it might be worth a look.

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013
Article comment by: Local Kid

WoW! I grew up watching movies in this theater. I was Thrilled when it reopened after Harkins had shut it down. And my daughter and I have enjoyed date night at this theather once a month, sometimes twice. I can't afford all cost to go to Sedona or Prescott with her. Now it's going to be gone AGAIN??? Sad days.

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