ORLANDO-Following a sharp attendance decline, General Cinema Theaters Inc. today is closing four local theaters and seven properties in other Florida locations. The theaters represent 28 out of 350 first-run screens in metro Orlando.

The properties are Colonial Promenade 6 at 4672 E. Colonial Drive, Fashion Square 6 at 3710 Maguire Blvd., Altamonte 8 at Renaissance Centre, 303 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs and Lake Mary Centre 8 at 3851 Lake Emma Rd.

In March, General Cinema closed its General Cinemas I-II at the Altamonte Mall. GC Cos. of Chestnut Hill, MA, a New York Stock Exchange-traded firm, is General Cinema’s parent. GC has so far held off filing for involuntary protection from creditors under the US Bankruptcy Code.

If it does, however, Harcourt General Inc., one of the country’s largest book publishers, may find itself in a critical financial position, company officials have confirmed. Harcourt General spun off General Cinema in 1993. A bankruptcy filing by General Cinemas could leave Harcourt liable for up to $355 million in theater-lease payments, the company acknowledges.

While the bankruptcy-filing question remains unanswered, commercial real estate brokers are scurrying to suggest new uses for the closed buildings. Among the potential conversion uses: telemarketing call centers, telecommunication switching centers, office supply stores and discount retailers.

Top Orlando area theater operators are Regal with nine theaters and 110 screens; AMC, seven theaters, 80 screens; United Artists, four theaters, 33 screens; General Cinemas, four theaters, 28 screens; and Loews, two theaters, 27 screens.

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