BETHEL — The Casablanca Theater has closed.

The four-screen theater shut down last Thursday. A sign on the billboard and on the Casablanca website says, “We are closed. Thank you for your patronage.”

Owner Elaine Riendeau said Monday that the number of customers has been declining for several years, but that the advent of digital projectors, and the cost to install them, helped drive her final decision.

“We would have closed with the digital conversions anyway,” she said.

For the large movie distributors, the digital format is much less expensive and they are phasing out 35 millimeter film, she said.

But Riendeau said the cost to convert from 35 mm film projectors to digital is in the tens of thousands of dollars per screen – too steep a cost for many smaller theaters.

The Casablanca opened in 1995 as part of the Bethel Station project. Riendeau purchased the theater in 2000 and has operated it since then.

She declined to say what might happen next with the Casablanca building.

Riendeau expressed her thanks to her customers who have loyally supported the theater through the years.

Asked Tuesday about the closing, Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robin Zinchuk said, “It’s a loss for the area. We hope that someone will purchase and re-open it.”

Trading Post closing

The Bear River Trading Post at Newry Corner will close Oct. 9, according to owner Doug Webster.

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