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Aurora Theatre acquired by West Herr Auto

Nearly 100 year old theatre to re-open February 18th with showing of "Dog," starring Channing Tatum.
Posted at 8:02 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 20:02:30-05

EAST AURORA, NY (WKBW) — The Aurora Theater on main street in East Aurora is a sight you can't miss.

"We've been around since 1925. This theater is a local institution. We're embedded into this community," said Lynn Kinsella, the theaters owner for the last 11 years.

The theater is known for its massive, 650-plus seat movie room, retro popcorn stand, and old timely feels that will bring about nostalgia in almost anyone. In fact, it was constructed in 1925 and has been showing some of the countries best and most popular movies since then.

"It was heartbreaking when we found out we had to close, but we thought it was only going to be a few weeks. Quickly those weeks turned to months, and we were gone for a long time," Kinsella added.

The Aurora Theater wasn't alone when it came to closures and struggles during the pandemic. Movie theaters - large and small - suffered and continue to suffer during the pandemic. According to a report by Forbes magazine:

  • About 12% of roughly 5,500 movie theaters countrywide closed during 2020 & 2021 (approx. 660 theaters)
  • The film industry experienced a 65% drop in revenue since 2019.
  • Movies are currently being produced 66% less frequently than in 2019.

Right around that time - West Herr Auto President & CEO Scott Bieler took interest in acquiring the theater.

"We wanted this business as a community project. It wasn't about money, its about helping the community," said Bieler, who noted that at that time, Kinsella needed "more time" before decided to sell.

That time came in late January, as Kinsella and West Herr decided on a deal shifting ownership of the community institution into the hands of the auto company. That included that Kinsella, the former owner, stayed on as a Director of Special Projects for a minimum of two years.

"This will still be the same old Aurora Theater, just polished up. We want to preserve its history as much as possible," said Bieler.

The theater is currently undergoing minor renovations already - including new bathrooms, a set of fresh paint, a deep clean, and some new flooring.

The theater plans on opening to the public on February 18th. You can find show-times either on the theater's website or their Facebook: