LEWISTON — The switch to digital projectors has claimed another local movie theater.

Six months after closing its facility in Oxford,

A person at the Lewiston theater confirmed the closing Monday morning, but refused further comment.

The 10-screen Flagship theater in Auburn remains open.

Shane Phalen, the manager in Lewiston, announced the closing Sunday on the theater’s Facebook page, thanking moviegoers “who stuck with us during this difficult time.”

“It is with a sad heart that I inform you that today, Sunday, March 1, is our last day of operation,” Phalen wrote. “We have struggled to keep afloat, but 20 theater screens is just too many in the Lewiston/Auburn area in the current economic climate.

“Our sister theater in Auburn will remain open and operating their regular hours, bringing you the newest releases in digital projection,” he wrote.

Nearly 100 individuals lamented the closing on its Facebook page.

The 10-screen Lewiston Flagship Cinemas opened in 2000 in the Promenade Mall in the space formerly occupied by Bradley’s department store. The theater featured stadium seating, surround sound and an $8.25 ticket price.

The Lewiston theater reduced its hours Sept. 29, 2014, moving from a seven-day-a-week schedule to opening on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and school vacation weeks.

At the time, theater officials said there were no plans to close the theater and that they were researching the cost to convert the projectors to digital.

The movie industry is rapidly converting movies from 35 mm film to digital projection. The cost to upgrade the seven-screen Oxford theater to digital was estimated at $750,000, according to company President John Crowley in an interview with the Sun Journal last year.

It was unclear how much the upgrade to digital would cost in Lewiston.

Lewiston was the only remaining theater in the Flagship chain that had not converted to digital.

Now, the only movie theater in Lewiston is Guthries Independent Theater on Park Street, which seats fewer than 100 and is open two to three days a week. The theater this weekend will screen “Whiplash,” featuring J.K. Simmons in his Oscar-winning supporting actor role.

Flagship Cinemas, headquartered in Massachusetts, has 11 theaters in six states. In addition to Auburn, locations in Maine include Thomaston, Waterville and Wells.

Crowley was unavailable for comment, while Andrew Poore, the chain’s director of operations, did not return repeated calls.

Oxford’s Flagship Cinemas closed Sept. 1, 2014, after 17 years.


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