Will a movie theater succeed in downtown Buffalo?

Posted at 6:44 PM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 18:45:39-04

Plans have been finalized to bring AMC Theaters to the old Market Arcade cinema complex on Main Street in Buffalo. Amherst-based Benchmark Group and AMC have worked out a deal to open an eight screen, 671 seat theater, expected to open sometime in the summer of 2018.

The companies will spend $9 million on renovations to the existing theater, located at 639 Main Street across from Shea's Performing Arts Center.

Many people walking in the Theater District Wednesday were excited for new development and hope it can draw more visitors to the city.

"It's definitely a good thing," Jonathon Redfern, who works in a building across the street from the new theater, said. "It will definitely bring way more business down here and maybe people will find something that they didn't know was here."

Others were more skeptical about the prospects for a movie theater operating downtown.

"Putting an AMC there, unless you have something unique to show, I wouldn't necessarily think that somebody would drive down here instead of the places that they live close by to the theaters," Smita Chutke, who works down the street from the Market Arcade buildings, said.

The three previous movie theaters to operate at that location were all unsuccessful and shut down.

AMC also happens to be struggling financially as this deal becomes reality. In early August, the company's share price fell to its lowest levels ever, at the time, to $15.15. It has continued to drop and is valued at $12.55 per share Wednesday.

That happened after the chain told investors it would report losses around $175 million dollars for the April to June period of 2017.

7 Eyewitness News asked Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown why a theater would work this time around and if he has any concerns about the viability of AMC opening a theater downtown.

"I'm not concerned about it," Mayor Brown said. "My focus was bringing a state of the art movie theater back to the city of Buffalo. We've got that deal done. AMC is coming. AMC is a strong company."