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Neonopolis theaters to go dark Thursday night

The silver screen will fade to black at downtown’s Fremont Street Experience, when Galaxy Theatres closes its Neonopolis multiplex following Thursday’s shows.

Galaxy managed the 11-screen theater for the troubled center’s owners, taking over in September 2006 from Crown Theatres, which opened the theater in May 2002.

With summer blockbusters arriving, “obviously, it’s not the best time of year to be closing,” said Galaxy President Rafe Cohen. “I hate to see a nice theater go black.”

But two problems proved insurmountable, he noted.

The primary one: Neonopolis has a centralized air-conditioning system and the complex’s owners “just weren’t paying their bills,” Cohen said. “It’s hard to operate a movie theater in Las Vegas without air conditioning.”

In addition, “the city never paid for parking,” requiring Galaxy to pick up the tab for moviegoers to park in the Neonopolis garage. “That was always a challenge,” he said.

Attempts to reach Neonopolis developer Rohit Joshi were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon.

Ticket sales at Neonopolis were “OK — never anything too sensational,” Cohen acknowledged, “but the problem we faced there was that the center always looked like an abandoned project. We were the only tenant, or just one of several, and people walking in at night kind of got spooked. There was a lot to overcome.”

Even so, Galaxy officials believe “there is a market for a theater in downtown Las Vegas” and would consider opening at another downtown location, according to Cohen.

The chain currently operates an all-digital multiplex at the Cannery in North Las Vegas and plans to open another next spring at Henderson’s M Resort.

Contact movie critic Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

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