Almost a full year after Santa Maria's Hi-Way drive-in movie theater closed for good, another cinema in town will no longer be showing movies on the big screen.
Edwards Cinemas on Bradley Road first opened its doors back in 1993. In the years following the opening of the new Regal Edwards theater at the Santa Maria Town Center, the older theater remained in service, showing films on their second runs at a bargain price — until last Thursday.
"It is saddening, really," said local film fanatic Kevin Perales. "I know we still have the one in the mall, but this one is just a little more nostalgic."
Thursday morning, Perales said goodbye to the movie theater he has been going to since he was a child.
"'Toy Story' was a big one. I remember when 'Elf' first came out. I was in the lower auditorium on the right side," he recalled.
Perales tells KSBY he believes the greater access to hit movies and TV shows through streaming has hampered the demand for in-person cinema.
"To really go out and experience something might be an outdated concept, but there is just something different about physically going to a theater with strangers that want to see the same thing and seeing their reaction," Perales said.
Others believe the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are to blame.
"I think it all started with COVID when people weren't able to get out and about," said John Hedding, Nipomo resident. "My wife and I have always loved going to the movie theater."
As for what is to come of the now-vacant Edwards Cinemas property, officials with the City of Santa Maria say no plans have been submitted for its potential future use.
Regardless, those we spoke with say the memories of watching their favorite flicks at Edwards Cinemas will live forever.
"The 'Black Panther' movie, I love that movie," said Garrett White, a truck driver who spent his breaks watching movies at the theater. "The first time that movie came out, I watched it here."
"The smell of the popcorn, the big screen, the seats, the activity. There is nothing like the movie theater. Never will be," Hedding added.
The fenced-in commercial property surrounding the old Edwards Cinemas has been purchased by local group Pacifica Commercial Realty.
KSBY News reached out to Regal for more information on the closure of the theater but did not receive a response.