Showcase West to close April 15

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And another one bites the dust -- but not for about two weeks.

Showcase Cinemas West, bought by Rave Motion Pictures of Dallas late last year, will close after business April 15. Showcase Cinemas North, however, is in no danger of going dark.

Although it has been a fixture in Robinson for 32 years and boasts a visible perch above the highway, an easily accessible sea of parking and a dozen screens, Showcase West lost customers to the nearby 16-screen Cinemark at Settlers Ridge Center, also in Robinson.

Cinemark opened in October and appeared to deliver a knockout blow to Showcase, which lacked stadium seating and other now-standard amenities. Plans to renovate were announced years ago and then abandoned.

"The theater is just not grossing well. It has been the subject of a lot of competitive builds and it cannot sustain itself economically as a viable modern theater," Jeremy Devine, vice president of marketing for Rave, said Thursday.

Managers and employees will be given "some type of severance package," Mr. Devine said, and they were offered opportunities at Showcase North, but none apparently accepted. Many pleaded distance or scheduling problems or a reluctance to bump existing workers at the theater in McCandless.

Previous owner National Amusements of Dedham, Mass., which continued to operate Showcase West during this transition, had quit advertising in the Post-Gazette, leading some patrons to mistakenly assume the venue was closed.

Customers can use gift cards at Showcase West through April 15 or at Showcase North until Dec. 17. No money will be refunded.

News about Showcase West comes a month after the closing of the Squirrel Hill Theater, a neighborhood fixture for more than seven decades.

Mr. Devine couldn't say what Rave will do with the sprawling property in Robinson. "We'll continue to own that. I have to assume they're looking at re-purposing that."

Dan Tallon, chairman of the Robinson commissioners, said it was a shame to see Showcase go. "It's been in Robinson for many, many years, and many Robinson residents have worked there," he said Thursday.

But Mr. Tallon also said the closing, coupled with the opening of the Cinemark in the Settlers Ridge commercial development, is part of an ongoing business cycle in the bustling township.

"When they built The Pointe at North Fayette, Robinson Town Centre lost several businesses," he said. "And when [The Mall at Robinson] opened, the peripheral centers lost several businesses."

But those spaces have filled back in, he said, and a new tenant is rumored to be coming to the former Giant Eagle building on Steubenville Pike, left vacant after the chain opened a Market District store in nearby Settlers Ridge.

"The shopping district is still expanding," he said. "I'm sure someone will come along and do something with that space."

Rave opened its first theater in 1999 and is known for state-of-the-art stadium seating and digital projection. With its buying spree at year's end, it grew from 30 to about 65 theaters and 989 screens and, at the time, Mr. Devine said Rave would evaluate its new properties.

Moviegoers will see minor upgrades at Showcase North in a few months. A new sign will be installed in June, and plans call for more digital screens, an expansion of 3-D capability and a change in concession offerings.

For more information about the old and new owners or show times, see www.national-amusements.com or www.ravemotionpictures.com.


Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Brian David: bdavid@post-gazette.com or 412-722-0086.


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