UltraStar Multi-tainment Center
UltraStar will no longer manage the Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin as of Friday, the company said on social media. Photo by Bob McGovern

UltraStar Cinemas, the company that has been managing the entertainment complex at Ak-Chin Circle, is out.

In a Facebook message posted about 9 p.m. on Thursday night, the San Marcos, Calif.-based company said the Ak-Chin Indian Community is expected to assume management Friday of the center.

“Thank you, Maricopa! … It has been an honor to be a part of all aspects of this landmark entertainment project, from conception, building, opening, managing and operating for the past 8 years,” the Facebook post said. “We wish the Ak-Chin Indian Community continued success.”

The 162,000-square-foot center, to be known as Ak-Chin Circle Entertainment Center, will remain open but it appears that there won’t be any movies shown for the foreseeable future. The other parts of the complex will remain open.

On its new Facebook page, a representative told one commenter, “Yes, the movies are not reopening at this time. Since new releases are so limited, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to keep the theater open. We are hoping that this is temporary. We still have concessions, the bowling alley, the arcade, laser tag, restaurant, and parties/events going on. We hope we’ll see you here soon!”

As people reacted Thursday night to the news on Facebook, an UltraStar representative responded to the comments in real time on its own page.

One response from the UltraStar account said, “The Center is now expected to be operated by the Ak-Chin Indian Community.”

“Although we are no longer affiliated with this site we are looking forward to sharing new projects in the future,” it added.

After a commenter asked about the status of his newly purchased gift card, the representative responded: “You can direct all questions regarding the operations of the location to the Center at (520) 568-3456. UltraStar does not have any information on new management policies.”

To another commenter, the account said, “We would hope that (Ak-Chin) would honor any unused gift cards.”

There was no indication on either the Ak-Chin or UltraStar Facebook pages on why the change was being made.

The complex opened in November 2012. It had a tough year in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic forcing its closure for several months, including the popular theaters. Even as some movie houses have begun to reopen nationwide with physical distancing and mask requirements, the moving-going public has been slow to return.

In recent days, Regal Cinemas announced it was suspending U.S. operations and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the biggest chain of theaters in the world, disclosed it was considering bankruptcy.