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Sandy Journal

It’s curtains for the Sandy Movies 9 discount movie theater

Aug 03, 2022 09:20PM ● By Heather Lawrence

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Sandy was one of the last holdouts of “the dollar theater” or discount movie theater with its Movies 9 location at 9539 S. 700 East in the Sandy Mall. Despite reopening after the initial pandemic shutdown, it closed permanently as of May 31.

“I was there on the last night with my wife and daughter seeing ‘The Lost City.’ I don’t think the employees were supposed to say anything, but somehow the news got out and everyone was so sad—they didn’t want to leave,” said Bill Becker of Sandy.

The closure seemed to come as a surprise to everyone. The next day signs were posted on the doors explaining it was closed permanently.

“After 33 years of sharing the magic of movies with this community, we regret to inform you that Cinemark Sandy Movies 9 is closed for good.

“We thank you for your generosity and support over the years. Thanks for the memories!” the signs read.

Becker, who moved to Sandy in 2006 and has been going to the theater ever since, said he hears the same reaction from everyone when they find out it closed.

“They’re always disappointed. It was the kind of place you could go with the family and get popcorn and tickets without dropping $40. If you could wait a month or two to see the movie, it was fun,” Becker said.

He heard all kinds of rumors. “I heard that the wife of the CEO of Cinemark decorated the interior herself in the early 1990s.

“I also heard that the lease was up and they didn’t want anyone in the community to know about it, so the employees had to keep the closure a secret so no one would fight back. I don’t know if it’s true, but there are a lot of people who loved going there,” Becker said.

Locals posting on social media also complained about the closure. A question on Reddit about why it closed prompted dozens of responses.

“This theater was one of the neighborhood spots growing up. I remember walking down there many times…with some friends,” said one person.

Others remember it as an inexpensive place for a date.

“Bummer, had a first date with my wife there 25 years ago,” someone posted.

“Dollar movies were great! I can’t count the number of movies I saw here. From a young teen going out for the first time with friends, to being a broke college student taking his future wife on a poor man’s date, this place was special and it will be missed,” was something another person remembered.

But there are some who were surprised that it held out as long as it did.

“This theater has been dead for a while, even when it was open. The movie times always seemed to be at odd hours, and streaming services kinda took over dollar movies,” one person commented.

Another mentioned that they’d be nostalgic for the dated décor. “Dang, I’ll miss going there on rainy afternoons and stepping into a time machine to 1997.”

Movies 9 officially opened Nov. 10, 1988 as a first-run theater with seven screens. By 1991 it had added two more screens, thus becoming Movies 9, and had 2,250 seats. It was the main theater in Sandy until Larry Miller opened the Megaplex at Jordan Commons in 1999.

Despite showing premieres of current big movies like “Star Wars Episode I” in 1999, the theater couldn’t compete with Jordan Commons. It transitioned to a discount theater Feb. 25, 2000.   

Since then, it’s been a mainstay of inexpensive dates, first jobs, a hangout with friends, a place for daycares and summer camps to entertain large groups and an air-conditioned reprieve for harried parents with young kids.

“It’s sad and anticlimactic that it just closed. I bet a lot of people went there the following days and weeks and were shocked.

“A lot of times my wife and I went there as parents just looking for something for the kids to watch, and that’s what we did that last night just by coincidence. Everyone was sad, they were kind of in mourning,” Becker said.

He compared it to the shift that happened when drive-in movies weren’t as popular.

“When I was a kid, going to the drive-in was the best. Discount movies closing is similar to when the last drive-ins closed,” Becker said. “It’s kind of a part of history, and something especially meaningful for those who went to it as teenagers.”