by Greg Chandler
J-Ad staff writer
The future of Lowell's only movie theater is up in the air; its owner has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Goodrich Quality Theaters, which owns the Ada/Lowell 5 theater at 2175 W. Main, issued the filing Tuesday in US Bankruptcy Court in Grand Rapids. Goodrich has owned the theater since it opened in the summer of 1996.
A show cause hearing in the case has been set for Wednesday, March 4, before Chief Bankruptcy Judge Scott Dales, said Kelly Hagan, one of the trustees assigned to the case.
Based in Grand Rapids, Goodrich owns 30 theaters in five states.
In its filing, Goodrich cited estimated assets at between $50 million and $100 million, and liabilities at between $10 million and $50 million. The number of creditors the company owes money to is listed at between 50 and 99, court records show.
The largest creditor listed in the filing is Vistar Corporation, a food service company based in the Detroit suburb of Belleville. Vistar has a claim of $1,086,417 against Goodrich.
Other unsecured claims listed in the filing include:
Universal Film Exchange, Dallas, $303,523
Spirit Master Funding X, Dallas, $460,934 (mortgages on four of Goodrich's theaters)
Sony Releasing, $224,570
Christie Digital Systems, Los Angeles, $203,013
Warner Brothers, Atlanta, $121,048
PepsiCo, Chicago, $103,000
IMAX Corporation, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, $87,244
Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, Calif., $81,063
Goodrich had come under fire in December 2019 over a policy change where it said it would no longer employ workers under the age of 18. An advertisement on the chain's website indicated it was looking for part-time help, but applicants had to be at least 18.
Rose Lambert, a Hastings 4 employee, submitted an online petition on the website change.org, alleging Goodrich's actions were "unfair and disrespectful to the teens currently working in the business."
"I definitely think he got what was coming," Lambert wrote in an email message to the Hastings Banner. "Most of his customers and employees were teenagers or started as teenagers."
More than 10,000 people signed the online petition, according to the website.
Goodrich did not respond to the Banner's requests for comments on the policy change, but a state youth employment specialist, Tara Bride, told the Banner at the time that a possible reason for the move may have been connected with the chain's addition of alcohol at some of its theaters. A 1978 Michigan law says a minor cannot be issued a work permit in an establishment where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises. The Hastings 4 was not one of the locations where alcohol was being added.
A meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting in the US Bankruptcy Code, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, Hagan said.
The Hastings Banner attempted to contact Tyrone Byrum, a Grand Rapids attorney who is representing Goodrich in the bankruptcy case, but did not receive a call back.
The Ada/Lowell 5 opened in August 1996. Current releases at that time were "Flipper," "Fear," "Escape From LA," "Independence Day," "The Rock," "Kingpin," "Phenomenon" and "The Hunchback of
Notre Dame." According to an article in the Aug. 14, 1996 Lowell Ledger, the new theater boasted "the best in moviegoing comfort and style in one 13,000 square foot building. Besides rocking chair seats with padded cup holder armrests, the theater features DTS digital stereo sound. [...] The theater will offer the latest hits as they come out in an effort to save Lowell residents a 20-30 minute drive to Grand Rapids theaters."
The Ada/Lowell 5 will continue to show movies for the time being. The theater is currently screening "Invisible Man," "Call of the Wild," "Blumhouse's Fantasy Island," "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Dolittle."