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Fremont Cinemas closing, owner filing bankruptcy

Fremont Cinemas in Newaygo County will close for good on Sept. 16.

FREMONT, Mich — COVID-19 will result in the final scene for two West Michigan movie theaters.

Dan Taylor, owner of Fremont Cinemas on West Main Street in Fremont and Harbor Cinema on Henry Street in Norton Shores, says the pandemic will force his business into a bankruptcy filing later this year.

According to Taylor, the cinema closings and bankruptcy filing will happen even if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order keeping movie theaters in lower Michigan closed is lifted. 

"If she gave us a date two weeks from now it's still too late," Taylor said Wednesday.

As a last ditch effort to see if the business could survive, Taylor reopened Fremont Cinemas to customers two-weeks ago, defying the governor's order. 

Taylor says customers are spaced out and his employees all wear masks. But that effort is not enough, and Fremont Cinemas will close for good on Sept. 16.

"We hope to give everybody a chance to use up their gift cards and gift certificates that they have," Taylor said.

Earlier this year Taylor decided his Harbor Cinema in Norton Shores would not reopen. 

"I have no other choice but to shut them down," Taylor said.

Without customers for six month, Taylor says he's behind on rent, projector lease payments, and other debt.

"We make all our money on concessions and part of ticket sales," Taylor said.

And now he's beginning to worry about the future for other small one and two screen cinemas in the state that may be forced to the same ending unless something changes soon.

"I think we're just one of four or five states where theaters are not allowed to open," Taylor said. "I'm a huge movie fan, That's the reason I got into theaters to begin with, so it's rough for me. But hopefully on to better things."

The announcement from Fremont Cinemas was shared with customers on its Facebook page Tuesday.   

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