Approximately seven months of non-compliance from Vu made it impossible for theater owners to make a profit according to Swanigan.

The saga continues between Saracen Cinema 8 and Judy Vu, Pines Mall owner as Vu was ordered to appear in court last Friday, June 19 after announcing the mall was entering foreclosure days prior.

Theater owners, Steven Mays, Jr. and Okorie Ezieme, who bought the theater in July of 2019, were represented by Attorney Verona Swanigan, who stated that this is not the first time they have taken Vu to court.

“Originally we sued because my client had signed a 35-year contract with an option to renew when those 35 years were up,” said Swanigan during an interview with the Pine Bluff Commercial on Friday. “In that contract it specifically says that the first paragraph is about maintenance.”

Swanigan added Vu’s responsibilities included the theater would pass inspection.

“She was supposed to pay for that which was extremely crucial because this is the person who was to come out make sure everything was done properly,” said Swanigan. “If whatever was not done properly she was supposed to get it fixed. My client was relying on that and she didn’t do it.”

As a result, Swanigan said the inspection failed which put a delay in business operations.

“They couldn’t pass to get the license they needed to have certain things in the movie theater that you need to make a profit and for people to have a good time,” said Swanigan.

Approximately seven months of non-compliance from Vu made it impossible for theater owners to make a profit according to Swanigan.

“Things that were supposed to happen, events that they had planned, she made it impossible for them to make a profit but at the same time saying to pay me rent,” said Swanigan.

Friday’s court hearing was so that the clients could gain access to the theater building.

Vu said no one was allowed to have a key to the mall to prevent theft but stated during Friday’s court hearing that the judge ruled in the theater owner’s favor to give them a key.

“I tell the judge to take me to jail. I give the key to nobody,” said Vu.

Swanigan said the purpose for the keys is so her clients can gain access to the building to turn on the electricity and air condition to the theater.

“My clients have a great desire to provide entertainment to this community and they would like to see the movie theater as well as the mall itself in that area become a flourishing entertainment area,” said Swanigan. “They need full access.”

The court gave Vu until 2:00 p.m. to surrender a copy of the keys to Swanigan. Vu said she did give them a key to the entrance but did not give them a key to the roof.

“They call Entergy to cut power on,” said Vu.

When asked why some of the mall had electricity during our visit while other places did not, Vu admitted some of the wiring in the roof will trigger some of the power to turn off which included the theater.

Vu, who said she did ask Entergy for an extension to keep the electricity on, was asked if she thought the reason the theater owners needed access to the roof was to check the wiring to which her response was, “I don’t know.”

“If they want to check, they call me make an appointment and I open the roof up,” said Vu. “Roof gives access to mall and the mall is in foreclosure.”

Vu wouldn’t release the lien holder company on Tuesday morning but said they were out of Dallas and were very busy.

“She’s always saying it that way. I don’t believe her. I would love to see this paper work,” said Swanigan on Friday. “I’ve looked it up and tried to find who the lien holder is and I can’t find anything.”

Swanigan said on Monday because Vu has not provided her clients the key that would allow them to get to the roof so that they can turn on the power and air conditioning and operate, she would be filing a motion of contempt immediately.

In an updated statement made from Saracen Cinema 8 early Tuesday morning, they will be reopening very soon. Theater owners state they have interest in the mall and optimistic the mall will soon be in competent hands.

According to the statement Tuesday morning, Swanigan made contact with Vu’s counsel, lien holder as well as other parties known to be interested in purchasing and repurposing the mall.