The Katherine Cinema has been closed after a drawn out sale process fell through yesterday.
After more than 20 years, the owner Tony Adams is now retired and says living away from Katherine has made it difficult to keep the cinema afloat.
The struggle to attract experienced staff - an issue widely impacting Katherine - forced Mr Adams to shut the cinema down late last week.
Final sales documents were hoped to be signed yesterday by a Katherine family intent on keeping the cinema alive.
But after more than a year on the market, the sale is back to square one.
Mr Adams said he was disappointed Katherine could be seeing the permanent shut down of yet another business, following the sudden closure of the town's first supermarket Five Star, Katherine's last jewelry store and a handful of others on the main street.
"I am disappointed for the town, the interested purchaser was keen to run it as a cinema, and I would hate to see Katherine lose a valuable asset," he said.
"Unfortunately, it will remain closed until someone wants to buy it. Without anyone knowledgeable to run the cinema it is just too much for me to manage from afar."
Mr Adams said staffing issues had been a problem for the past year, forcing the cinema to intermittently close for short periods of time.
In January, lightning storms forced the Katherine Cinema to close its doors for two weeks as power outages wreaked havoc on the projectors, almost derailing the annual Travelling Film Festival.
While the Katherine Film Society managed to persuade the cinema to open specifically for the popular festival, it is now facing an uncertain future.
Ian Biggs, a member of the committee, said while the sudden closure has put a dampener on the start of the film season due to start tomorrow with the screening of Jojo Rabbit, the society will forge ahead.
"The film society was in existence before a cinema was established in Katherine," Mr Biggs said.
He can't be sure, but if his memory is correct, Katherine's cinephiles would congregate at a lecture hall inside the building which now houses Katherine Regional Arts.
"We'll probably do something like that.
"There is an enthusiastic membership and an enthusiastic committee, there is no reason [the film society] should stop."
However, society members are looking at less new release films and smaller screens without the backing of a cinema and its expensive equipment.
"Films come in a Digital Cinema Projection package that require specialised projectors to play them. It is what gives you that big screen feel."
"Unfortunately, we are going to have to look at downloading movies when we do find a space.
"It will be a couple of weeks before we are back on our feet again."
A short notice was posted on the cinema's Facebook page on February 14 stating: "We are closed due to owners request".
While the news was not shocking, the disappointment was clear.
"I'm shattered, I come over from Mataranka every three weeks and always look forward to going to the movies," one person commented.
"Hope you get the issues sorted. I would hate with all my heart to see the cinema closed down," was another.
The cinema was built in the mid 90's at a cost close to $2 million.
It has been on the market for over 12 months for $700,000, with the sale including the cinema, the attached cafe and offices currently housing not-for-profit organisation NT Friendship and Support.
Alison Ross, the owner of Elders Real Estate says a number of local and interstate investors have been interested in taking over the cinema.
"We are working on finding a buyer," she said.
"The owner has been maintaining everything so we are confident we will find someone."
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