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Thursday, March 30, 2023

The last of Mérida’s Centro movie theaters is shutting down for good

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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.
The Cinema Rex is the last movie theater still operating in Mérida’s Centro, but not for much longer. Photo: Courtesy

The Cinema Rex across from the Santiago market will be drawing its curtains for the last time this month.

Though Cinemex, the theater’s operator, has not announced the exact date, folks on social media are already fretting about the end of an era for Mérida’s Centro. It is heavily rumored that the close date will come by the end of the month. 

“Before all the growth in the north, almost all the movie theaters used to be downtown. There was the Fantasio, the Cantarei, Cinema 59, and several others, and now there will be nothing,” a resigned Centro resident, Mario Ceballos, said on Facebook. 

Acquired by Cinemex in the late 1990s, the historic Cinema Rex first opened its doors in 1949.

El Cantarell became Mérida’s first movie theater back in May 1936. The art deco building still stands to this day, but it shut down in the late ‘80s and is now home to an Electra appliance store. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The movie theater was one of the largest in town, complete with huge ceiling fans and an art deco facade. 

Earlier: Great moments in Yucatán’s film history: The early years

As shopping malls began to grow in popularity, so did megaplex cinemas with multiple screening rooms. The allure of watching movies in these much more modern cinemas, with the added benefit of plentiful mall parking and convenient shopping, soon started to impact Centro’s movie theaters. 

Aside from poor parking, one of the factors likely working against Cinema Rex in recent years was the fact that they almost always showed dubbed films instead of offering subtitled options for non-Spanish language films. 

Several other former cinemas have met fairly inglorious ends, as is the case of the Alcazar at Mejorada Park, which is now a parking lot. Photo: Courtesy

According to their website, the company has approximately 14,000 employees and projects films on 2,400 screens in every Mexican state except Tlaxcala.

The company also began an expansion into the United States in 2013 with the acquisitions of 14 cinema complexes.

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