“We had a hint of closing last Friday,” said Redd Hills Cinema (RHC) manager Ernest Hoffman. “I knew it was contemplated, but I didn’t know it was coming this soon.”
The end of March would have been RHC’s ten year anniversary. Sadly, their theater showed its final film, The Brothers Grimsby Tuesday night at 8:40 p.m.
A small town just couldn’t handle having two movie theaters, according to Hoffman. “There are two cities here, you and I both know where they are,” he told the MLN, implying the divide of Mesquite by the I-15freeway. “The families all live on the other side of town. Why would they want to come all the way over here when there is [a theater] over there?” Hoffman has often said that there has been a lack of support from the community for local businesses which also contributed to the failure of RHC. But despite that, it never prevented RHC from being active in the community and contributing to the many non-profit organizations in town. “We didn’t turn down anyone in this town. We gave out passes (for auctions and giveaways). We supported Mesquite Reads with cash, the Best of Fest and many more.”
Hoffman claimed that when RHC first came to town in 2006, then Mayor Bill Nichols and his council promised that they would not allow another theater to come in. At that time, there was already a four-room theater inside of the Virgin River Casino. “We knew they were going to close,” said Hoffman, “but instead, the city allowed them to build on Mesquite Boulevard.”
From that point on, it was a never-ending battle for RHC, who has struggled to stay afloat, no matter what films they were given. In late 2014, Hoffman had said that he thought RHC would be closing soon thereafter, but then landed the showings for Unbroken, which sent his viewing numbers through the roof. But it wasn’t enough momentum to keep the dream alive and just 15 months later, his premonition would come true.
Throughout the 10 years of business, there were several hurdles that RHC had to overcome. Not only did the economic crash in 2008 and 2009 cripple them, but the change in equipment needed to show digital films meant coming up with large sums of money to meet the supply and demand of the technologically evolving industry.
Each screen and equipment setup cost the RHC $75,000 each. Of the eight theater rooms they had, only five had been converted to digital. “It’s a good system, it’s much easier on the exhibitor, but we did it as we had the cash flow for it.” Those costs plus the royalty fees to the production companies caused prices within RHC to increase, but never brought anything more back to the theater’s bottom line.
Another reason for the business closing was the multitude of fees and taxes that had to be paid to the two HOAs that manage the complex and the State of Nevada’s property tax setup. “Everyone here owns their own buildings. This town eats everybody up with HOA fees. We have two HOAs just for the theater, one for the business park and one with the Mesquite Vistas, as part of the City’s Master Plan.” Pairing those fees with the property taxes that the State of Nevada imposes make it that much more difficult to make a profit.
“10 years of lost profits is enough,” owner Mark Smith told the MLN Tuesday morning via phone. Smith is based out of Eastern Pennsylvania and has entrusted Hoffman with management of RHC since its birth the last weekend of March 2006.
Hoffman confirmed to the MLN that 12 part-time employees will be given their final paychecks and will have to find other work. Hoffman says that he plans on staying in Mesquite for a while but isn’t quite sure what the future holds for him.
Both Smith and Hoffman will work to ensure that all businesses and organizations that placed ads in their previews at the theater will be refunded their monies. For those who have gift cards, they will need to watch for information in the coming weeks on how to redeem those for cash from the establishment. “It will take some time,” said Hoffman, “but we’ll get it all squared away.”
On their Facebook page Tuesday morning, a bittersweet message was posted to their fans, stating that “We appreciate all of your business and were happy to get to know many of you. Thanks for all the memories, Redd Hills Management.”
Hoffman added that “As much as people think I hate this town, I always felt it has great potential. The only problem is that the people in this town do not support local business.” Hoffman noted at the Mesquite City Council technical review meeting on Tuesday afternoon that business has dropped 75 percent from where it was at the same time in 2015.
Redd Hills Cinema was just the latest in a string of closures. On March 11, Popeye’s Chicken, 70 Falcon Ridge Parkway, closed its doors for good. Prior to that, other businesses such as Southwest Spirit, Have Boutique Will Travel (although not closed due to economic reasons) and other suspected closings of Illusive Imports in the old Harley’s Garage location and the Pit Crew Grille inside of Stateline Casino have closed. The first to close, however, was Good Times Yogurt and More on December 18, 2015. While they opened strong, the customer base never did come back after the summer of 2015.
As for the future plans of the RHC building, Hoffman confirmed that it is now in the hands of a bank and is set to go up for auction in Las Vegas on March 17. What happens with it after that is anyone’s guess.