Three Regal movie theaters in Gainesville went dark last March, then lit up again in time for the Empire Strikes Back 40th anniversary in September. Then they went dark again.
The marquees in front of some of the theaters have had various messages throughout the last year—from blame on the movie industry shutting down in New York City to the current hopeful message at the Royal Park Stadium 16 on University Avenue: "We are reopening soon Gainesville. Can't wait to welcome you back."
On Tuesday Regal gave a glimmer of hope to movie fans.
"Regal is thrilled to welcome our guests back to the movies in April! Select theatres will be opening April 2, in time for Godzilla vs. Kong," Regal announced on Twitter. "Additional theatres will be opening in the weeks to follow."
But, alas, the list of theaters reopening next week does not include Gainesville. The closest Regal locations opening on April 2—and the only two in the state—are in the Orlando area.
It's not for lack of trying that the Gainesville movie scene has stopped rolling.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the green light for movie theaters to reopen in Florida last June, but local Regal Cinema locations in Gainesville did not open up right away.
So the community was given chances to see movies in other ways.
Drive-In Dude and Pop-up Movie Tour Founder Michael Silver brought his inflatable 35-feet wide screens with 800-square feet of viewing space to the Oaks Mall and drew hundreds of cars from neighboring counties.
Then Celebration Pointe and Regal teamed up to present a summer drive-in movie series, complete with concessions.
All throughout the pandemic, the Ocala Drive-In continued to host classic movies.
Alachua County Regal Movie theaters reopened on Aug. 21st. and played classic movies for $5 but the theaters failed to draw crowds.
In October, Regal parent company Cineworld Cinemas announced on Twitter, "We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached. Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”
The Gainesville locations did close and have sat empty now for five months.
Local Regal theater managers did not respond to requests for comment from Mainstreet Daily News.
Gainesville cinephiles are still waiting for that happy ending.