The lights have gone out at the Ciné Starz theatre on Centrum Boulevard for the last time after their landlord, Colonnade Management Inc., refused to renew their lease.
According to Colonnade, Ciné Starz has been behind in paying its rent for more than three years to the tune of more than $80,000. The property management company had given the theatre operator until Sept. 25 to catch up. When no payment was made Colonnade seized the theatre, changed the locks and posted a one page notice on the window informing the public of the seizure and the closure.
The non-payment of rent dates back to April 2020 and covers the period during which movie theatres were forced to close their doors during the COVID 19 pandemic.
While many commercial tenants in Ontario were given a break in the form of deferred rental payments during the pandemic, there was still a requirement, or at least an expectation, that the deferred rent would eventually be paid.
According to Ciné Starz spokesman Daniel Smajovits, the company was in the process of negotiating an arrangement to pay the back rent as part of the discussions to renew their lease. Rent was paid both prior to the pandemic shutdown and ever since they were allowed to reopen.
Smajovits notes the negotiations with Colonnade began in good faith, until at some point along the way Colonnade either found a new tenant, or a potential new tenant came forward.
“We reached out to them several days before (the) closure to ask about the renewal and were given excuses and told they would get back to us soon with a proposal,” says Smajovits. As it turned out they never did. The lease termination notice and seizure of the premises came as a complete surprise.
Ciné Starz Orléans first opened its doors in September, 2013 to great fanfare. Since then, the theatre has shown a mix of first run feature films, repertory films and French language films. In fact, It was the only theatre in Ontario where French movies, both regular movies and children’s movies, were shown on the regular schedule, in their original format and without subtitles.
The theatre’s biggest draw were its ticket prices at only $5 per person.
Members of Orléans’ francophone com-munity are especially lamenting the theatre’s demise as it was the only place in Ottawa to watch feature length French movies.
The Orléans francophone organization MIFO also used the theatre for monthly screenings of French language films.
Former Orléans Ward city councillor Bob Monette, who played a key role in bringing Ciné Starz to Orléans, was saddened when he heard the news of the theatre’s closure.
“This is a major loss to the Centrum area and also a blow to movie goers who could enjoy movies at a reasonable price there,” Monette wrote in a comment on Facebook. “Very sad for the Orléans community, both French and English.”
At this time it is not known what Colonnade Management will do with the property now that it is vacant.