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Final curtain could be near for the Hyland Cinema without support

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London’s last marquee stand-alone movie theatre is facing a crisis.

The Hyland Cinema on Wharncliffe Road South is under increasing financial pressure.

“With everything coming due, kind of all at once, it is tough,” said co-owner Moira Adlan in an interview with CTV News London.

Adlan said the Hyland is facing increased costs for its mortgage, staff wages and film distribution rights.

But the greatest pressure on its future comes from a Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan granted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adlan said unless the federal or provincial government offers a help, patrons filling seats will be the only way to ensure bills are paid.

If not, the only choice left would be to close the curtain one last time.

The interior of the Hyland Cinema in London, Ont. is seen on Nov. 27, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)“We would have to sell the property for sure,” she said. “There is no question.”

At present, Hyland crowds average approximately 50 per cent of the pre-pandemic number.

Adlan, who along with her husband, renovated and reopened the theatre in 2004 is pleading with Londoners to act — it is the only way to save the final theatre in town playing 35 mm movies.

“We’re asking people to come back and see the films. We do have great films, and please bring someone with you, bring your group, and have some fun,” she said.

It is a message echoed by the Old South Business Improvement Association.

President Ian Leishman is developing a cross-promotion plan with the theatre, starting this Christmas.

Leishman said Londoners need to act immediately to ensure the Hyland’s marquee doesn’t go dark or disappear.

The marquee of the Hyland Cinema in London, Ont. is seen on Nov. 27, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London) “It is an iconic sort of landmark for Old South,” he said. “We’re going to fight to keep this place around.”

Leishman said his pledge remains even if Adlan chooses to retire or sell, and added that the Hyland, once known as the Elmwood, should be preserved.

“This is such a really cool spot. People should know about it, and we should be showcasing everything about it,” he said.

Adlan said if people flock for this December’s run of classic Christmas movies, the Hyland could achieve its box office numbers of old.

“It was a good business. Very well supported, very steady,” she reflected. 

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