When movie goers walked through the glass doors of Greater Union Cinemas on Sunday night, little did they know it could be the last time for a Choc-top in Wollongong.
After 44 years of bringing the community laughs, tears and putting them on the edge of their seats, a question-mark looms over the future of the triple-theatre complex at the corner of Church and Burelli Streets.
Without warning, the doors have closed indefinitely. Though a spokesman for parent group Event Cinemas wanted to reassure movie buffs it was only "temporary".
"We have made the difficult decision ... due to the lack of film content being released globally by Hollywood studios and slow trading impacted by COVID-19," the spokesman told the Mercury.
"We look forward to reopening soon and welcoming the community back to escape in the magic of the movies."
The spokesman did not answer the Mercury's questions regarding redeployment of staff, the time frame for the cinema to reopen nor whether there were similar plans for Greater Union Shellharbour.
The movie industry is struggling globally, especially due to potential high grossing blockbuster films release dates being pushed back - like Mission: Impossible 7, the 25th James Bond installment, No Time to Die, and Marvel Universes Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow.
In 2019, takings from Australian box offices totaled $1.23 billion, according to Screen Australia data.
However, a report into Australian cinema by IBIS World in April was forecasting the box office revenue for 2020 to be just 25 per cent of last year's figure.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said with changing times the "need" for movie theatres has sadly come under threat.
"I don't know what their future business model is but I could imagine what they are offering is easily challenged by other services," Cr Bradbery said.
"Not only are they being confronted with the COVID-19 crisis but also people are using online streaming services these days."
The $1.4 million triple-theatre complex opened on December 8, 1976 with the world premiere of the Australian film Break Of Day.
The Wollongong cinema was closed during lockdown, from March 23 but reopened to the public on August 20. It was barely open two months before closing the doors again
For now, cinema goers will need to travel to Warrawong, Shellharbour or Miranda to get their buckets of popcorn and oversized cokes.
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