It has been just over three years since Colusa Theatre owner Mike Wilkinson first announced that its closure was eminent, citing a changing industry and a lack of funds to make the conversion to a digital projector.
Thanks to some help from the community, the Colusa Theatre was able to make that conversion, but Wilkinson is once again sounding the swan song of the Colusa Theatre.
In a social media post on Nov. 1, Wilkinson announced that he could not continue to pay the bills and that the theatre would be closing in a matter of days or weeks.
“The primary reason for this is that running a standard single screen movie theater in today’s increasingly competitive and economically challenging environment is not viable.
“This has been and continues to be the case with the continual rise in operating costs and increased pressure from other sources of competition including online movies,” Wilkinson wrote.
The long-term solution to the problem, he added, included “the recent addition of a screening room with flexible space to accommodate various forms of private and public events. That should have drastically improved the business (sic) cash flow…”
Wilkinson had previously opened the second screen in the downstairs area of the building, but the City of Colusa forced him to close it, stating that the space was not up to code, and claiming that Wilkinson did not have the proper permits to operate in that space.
The city issued a notice to stop construction and not to occupy the space in June, putting a halt on any improvements to the space. They claimed that they had issued a special use permit, but had not permitted the regular operation of the second screen at the Colusa Theatre.
Wilkinson claimed then (and continues to maintain) that the city had issued him a permit to operate the downstairs until he could bring the downstairs up to code.
“My permit, to this day, clearly states work that had yet to be done… I understand it hadn’t been finalized, but my understanding was that I was going to be receiving a time-line based on our discussion, as far as completing various phases of the project,” Wilkinson said on Tuesday.
The city, on the other hand, claimed in June that Wilkinson’s plans for the downstairs area were incomplete.
After ordering Wilkinson to stop operating the second screen, city officials indicated that they were willing to work with him to get it back up and running. The two parties reached an impasse, Wilkinson said, and they have been unable to move forward since.
Wilkinson said that the cost of bringing the downstairs area up to code would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000 to $70,000 “but the various components are going to be phased in over a period of time.”
For now, Wilkinson said he plans to show one more movie after “Trolls” ends on Nov. 17.
“Quite simply, the cash flow of business won’t let me stay open much longer. I need to pick a closing date. I haven’t decided on that, but it will likely be before Christmas. I need to choose a closing date before a closing date chooses me.”
All hope is not lost for the Colusa Theatre. Wilkinson said he was currently in discussions with a number of interested parties and had multiple meetings scheduled for next week. As for the projector the community helped raise funds for, Wilkinson plans to give it back to the community in some fashion, if all else fails.
“What happens with projector, that is something that has already been a concern of mine. Feel there are a couple of options. One would be to turn it over to organization in the city that could make good use of it… I feel like I haven’t decided yet, but I want to do something to benefit the community.”