The Lumina Theater is closing after nearly twenty years in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village. The independent movie theater will operate normally through the summer and cease operations on September 2, according to a statement on its website made on July 16.

“It has been an honor and our pleasure to share our love of film with all of our customers,” the statement read. “Until September 2nd, however, we are still very much open and can’t wait to continue to provide great movies and the best service around!”

Officials cited “changes to the national and local movie market” and dwindling attendance numbers as reasons for the closure. While research suggests that streaming services like Netflix haven’t directly reduced American cinema attendance as a whole, independent theaters have found it hard to stay competitive against larger chains like Regal, AMC, and Cinemark.

The local movie market also looks very different than it did when the Lumina opened its doors in 2000, with one of the most noticeable changes being the expansion of Silverspot Cinema five miles away from the Lumina. A national chain, Silverspot provides full-service dining and drink options during showings to viewers at its thirteen screens in Chapel Hill. Audience members pay a premium for its cushy chairs and extensive menu; a weeknight showing of musical comedy Yesterday, for example, costs $14.75 for adults at Silverspot, compared with $9.50 at the Lumina.

But even though the five-screen Lumina is smaller and less high-end than its national competitors at Silverspot or Southpoint’s AMC Theatre, that’s exactly what many of its patrons will miss.

“The Lumina has been one of my favorite places in the world for as long as I can remember; no other movie theater comes close,” wrote one resident on Facebook. “Losing the Lumina feels like losing an old friend…Thank you so much for all the movies, the memories, and the magic for the last 19 years.”

The owners of another Chapel Hill icon, He’s Not Here, weighed in on Twitter: “The OG for grabbing a beer while watching a movie. Always came through with the student discount.”

With Lumina closing, Chapel Hill still has independent theaters in the Varsity Theatre, near UNC’s campus, and the Chelsea Theater.

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