Orange County

Lumina Theater to keep movies going a little longer at Chapel Hill’s Southern Village

The Lumina Theater is closing its doors in September, according to published reports.
The Lumina Theater is closing its doors in September, according to published reports.

Southern Village will have a local movie theater until early next year, and maybe longer.

The Lumina Theater, which was set to close Sept. 2, will now remain open until at least Jan. 15, developer D.R. Bryan said Wednesday.

Bryan Properties owns and operates The Lumina Theater, and also developed the Southern Village community in southern Chapel Hill.

Theater management made the decision to stay open a while longer after meeting with a group of Southern Village residents interested in taking it over, Bryan said. They will reach a decision by Nov. 15 about how to keep it as a for-profit business, he said.

He declined to reveal the group yet but said they’ve been in talks since the announcement was made that the theater would close.

“These are people who are in business. They know what they’re getting into, and they’re not naive people,” Bryan said. “They’ve looked at our books; they understand everything. They think they can make it work.”

Bryan and his former partners opened the independent movie theater as a second anchor tenant on Market Street in 2000. Weaver Street Market is the primary anchor for the community’s business district.

The Lumina started with four screens, a large arcade and cafe space, adding a fifth screen in 2005.

The lobby bar was added in 2011, and the projectors recently were upgraded to show digital films. The latest plan — to expand the theater to include a local taphouse — didn’t work out, Bryan said.

The theater’s audiences also have declined, Bryan said, in part because moviegoers have so many other options, especially through subscriber services like Netflix.

“The Lumina served as a strong anchor for the first 10 years,” Bryan said. “Over the years, there’s been a slow erosion of people going to the movies nationally, and that has affected us here.”

The news that Southern Village might lose its theater spread quickly, with many hoping there might be a way to keep it going. Bryan said he’s among those who would love to see The Lumina stay where it is.

“It’s always good to have fresh eyes and people who are excited about something to look at it,” Bryan said. “I think it’s wonderful if they get it to work. I’ll be ecstatic.”

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Tammy Grubb has written about Orange County’s politics, people and government since 2010. She is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna and has lived and worked in the Triangle for over 25 years.