Duluth Omnimax likely to close

November 17, 2008 – 1:59 pm

The Associated Press reports:

The Duluth Omnimax Theater will probably close when its lease is up in 2011.

Dan Russell, the director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, says another shortfall is predicted for this year. That would mean the theater has operated in the red for several years.

The Omnimax opened in 1996, but attendance at the 270-seat theater has been disappointing in recent years.

Russell says Duluth probably isn’t big enough to support an IMAX theater.

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UPDATE: The Post-Bulletin takes a closer look at the Duluth Omnimax’s likely closure.

Initial estimates said the theater would draw 220,000 to 270,000 visitors a year, according to officials cited in News Tribune stories during its planning. But in its first full year of operation, it drew only about 194,000 visitors, its biggest year. Attendance and sales have dropped steadily since then, with budget numbers from the DECC showing the theater projected to take on a $1,000 loss this year.

That will be at least its fourth straight year of losses dating back to 2005, totaling $200,690.

“To be honest with you,” [director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Dan] Russell told the Duluth City Council last Monday, “we’re just hanging on.”

Russell said Duluth’s IMAX theater isn’t the only one having financial problems. Indeed, according to IMAX’s SEC filings, the company’s revenue and stock prices have been plunging.

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