April 15, 2021
To the dismay of cinephiles, ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres are permanently shuttered, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the company’s holdings is the historic Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. An IndieWire report stated that Pacific Theatres still owes $181,900 for its March 2021 rent on the Culver City ArcLight location, which could rise to $2.2 million for a full year. Parent company Decurion Corporation controlled 300+ screens in California, including 18 at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale and 14 at The Grove in Los Angeles.
Variety reports that, “other locations for the two brands were in Northridge, Sherman Oaks, Lakewood and Chatsworth.” The company also operates ArcLight Cinemas in Pasadena, Santa Monica, El Segundo, La Jolla, Boston, Chicago and Maryland.
Rick Caruso, chief executive of the real estate company that owns the Americana at Brand and The Grove malls said, “there will always be a place on our properties to revel in the shared experience of watching a film together.” He added that the Pacific Theatres at The Grove “have consistently performed among the top in the country, so I have no doubt in my mind that this is what our guest is looking for — that this is a part of the very culture that defines who we are as Angelenos.”
Deadline reports that, prior to announcing its closure, the Pacific Theatres chain was planning for a Memorial Day weekend reopening; “it’s expected that Los Angeles County could have movie theaters operating at 100 percent capacity by then.” It adds that, “the Hollywood ArcLight is also one of the highest-grossing movie theaters in the nation.”
Decurion explained that, “after shutting our doors more than a year ago, today we must share the difficult and sad news that Pacific will not be reopening its ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres locations.” “This was not the outcome anyone wanted, but despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options, the company does not have a viable way forward,” it added.
“To all the Pacific and ArcLight employees who have devoted their professional lives to making our theaters the very best places in the world to see movies: we are grateful for your service and your dedication to our customers. To our guests and members of the film industry who have made going to the movies such a magical experience over the years: our deepest thanks. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve you.”
Deadline notes that Decurion’s announcement “doesn’t mean the chain is bankrupt,” but rather, as part of a lease negotiation, “the landlord decides which keys to keep and which they’d like to return to the exhibitor.” The chain has laid off its theatrical staff, however.
The Cinerama Dome, the only concrete geodesic dome on the planet, also “houses the largest contoured motion picture screen in the world, measuring 32 feet high and 86 feet wide.” The Dome is “made up of 316 individual hexagonal and pentagonal shapes in 16 different sizes.” Pacific Theatres founder William Forman announced its construction in July 1963 “at a star-studded groundbreaking ceremony” and premiered with the 70mm single strip Cinerama film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on November 7, 1963.
“Movie lovers and prominent filmmakers collectively grieved the closure of the ArcLight Hollywood and Pacific Cinerama Dome on social media, sharing memories of visiting the venue over the years,” reports CNBC. “For many, this particular theater was the place where they fell in love with cinema.”
Due to the Cinerama Dome’s notable background hosting movie premieres over the decades — and since it was formally declared a historic monument in 1998 — there is a good chance the iconic structure will not be torn down.
“I suspect that you’ll see a group in time that will find a way to resurrect it,” suggested Eric Schiffer, chairman and CEO of private equity firm Patriarch Organization. “It’s not the end of the ArcLight,” he said. “I think you’ll see someone step up for these assets.”
‘I Can’t Imagine Hollywood Without the Arclight.’ Filmmakers Explain Why the Loss Matters, The Los Angeles Times, 4/14/21
The Cinerama Dome: A Landmark of Hollywood History in Photos, Variety, 4/14/21