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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Cinemex closes its cinemas in Gran Plaza, for good

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Cinemex will be permanently shutting down its multiplex in Mérida’s Gran Plaza.
Cinema marquees go dark for good at the Gran Plaza Cinemex. Photo: Courtesy

Like in most parts of the world, Yucatán’s movie theaters continue to suffer low attendance rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Things have gotten so bad that Cinemex, one of the countries largest movie theater chains, is now offering 2-for-1 specials to people who can prove they have been fully vaccinated against the virus. 

The promotion came on the heels of an announcement that Cinemex would be permanently shutting down its multiplex in Mérida’s Gran Plaza shopping mall, which had been in operation since 1994.

Other Cinemex locations in Mérida, such as the multiplex at Plaza Galerías, have reopened after a year of closures, but are operating at a much lower capacity. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The news is a blow to local moviegoers, many of whom had been watching movies at the cinema since they were children.

“I think I saw my first movie ever at the theater in Gran Plaza, it may have been The Lion King. It’s truly the end of an era,” Manuel Puentes P. said on Facebook. 

Earlier: Yucatán’s nascent film industry is waiting for its closeup

Cinemex decided to close their Gran Plaza multiplex theater after shopping center administrators refused to renegotiate their rent.

“Gran Plaza has been awful to deal with during the entire pandemic. While other shopping centers have reduced rents and offered reasonable financing, they have simply dug their heels in,” an anonymous source told Yucatán Magazine. 

Over the last couple of months, ticket sales at movie theaters in Yucatán have rebounded slightly to roughly 30% of Pandemic levels, from a historic low of below 5%. 

Another problem is that many moviegoers perceive that it is unsafe to eat inside movie theatres. This has hurt the sales of popcorn, sodas, and other highly profitable goodies movie theatres depend on. 

Cinemex’s main competitor, Cinepolis, has been suffering many of the same problems but has shifted considerable amounts of capital towards developing a streaming platform to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney+.

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