Chicago Black-Owned Movie Theaters Closed For Failure To Pay Taxes Reopen – Brief Article
Several Black-owned Chicago movie theaters that were shut down for failing to pay taxes recently reopened.
The Department of Revenue closed several theaters in the Meridian Entertainment Group, which is owned by Donzell and Alisa Starks.
The department did not disclose the amount owed by the couple. But Alisa Starks said the couple owed nearly $500,000 and paid $170,000 since July. They recently had offered to pay $25,000 every two weeks, she said.
The taxes owed were amusement, employee head taxes and non-title use taxes.
“We were shocked when they closed us on Wednesday,” Alisa Starks, co-owner of the Meridian chain told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know if it was a change of heart or what. But we have come up with a payment plan and are ready to go.”
The theaters were reopened two days later on a Friday.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who once lauded the couple for creating the country’s only Black family-owned movie theater chain, told the Chicago Sun-Times: “People have financial problems every day. Don’t kick him. Don’t keep beating him up.”
Starks said the movie industry is experiencing hard times and four major movie theater companies have filed for bankruptcy in recent months.
“A lot of it has to do with over-building among the larger exhibitors, and some of our theaters were impacted by that,” she told the Sun-Times. “You have theaters competing with theaters and competition within chains between new and old theaters. Within the last few months, there was also record-low box office for the industry. Studios haven’t been releasing as many films.”
Chicago’s top movie chain, the Loews Cineplex, announced in August the possibility of defaulting on debt payments, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The movie theaters closed were Burnham Plaza, Hyde Park, Broadway, the Biograph, Bricktown Square, and the Water Tower Theatre.
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