FREMONT — One of the country's first Bollywood movie theaters, which shut its doors Wednesday, is scheduled to reopen Jan. 22 with a new name and new owners.
BIG Cinemas, India's largest movie theater company, is taking over NAZ 8 Cinemas in Fremont, a company representative said Thursday.
The theater was evicted from its longtime home at the Gateway Plaza shopping center on Paseo Padre Parkway on Wednesday after a nearly yearlong rent dispute.
Shiraz Jivani, who owned NAZ 8 since its founding 18 years ago, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Weingarten Realty Investors, which owns the shopping center, filed suit against Jivani last April, claiming that he owed $54,713 in unpaid rent and other fees, according to court papers. After failing to negotiate a rent reduction, Weingarten found a new tenant last month.
Big Cinemas representatives said they had signed a lease, but still needed to settle legal issues before they will discuss plans for the theater. The company operates 18 U.S. theaters, including San Jose's IMC 6, which shows Bollywood films. NAZ 8 will have a new name when it reopens, a company official said.
Jivani opened the NAZ in 1992 at a single-screen theater in Fremont's Centerville district. In 1999, he moved it to an eight-screen theater in the Fremont Hub Shopping Center, and a few years later he moved it to its most recent home — a seven-screen theater on Paseo Padre between Walnut and Mowry avenues.
At the height of the tech boom, NAZ 8 attracted up to 16,000 customers a week, but in recent years it struggled to get 16,000 a month, Jivani said last year. Since 2004, his stable of movie theaters has dwindled from eight to two, with theaters in Fremont and Artesia, Los Angeles County.
Last May, just weeks after his landlords filed suit against him, Jivani announced that he was turning NAZ 8 into a mainstream Hollywood theater. But the move failed to improve business, and he quickly returned to Indian movies after a labor strike that crippled Bollywood filmmaking had ended.
Reach Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. Read his blog at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.