On Monday, we heard the surprising and sad announcement that ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres will not be reopening. Their parent company, Decurion, is handing the keys back to the landlords on six Los Angeles area Pacific Theaters and 11 ArcLight Cinema locations nationwide. The biggest blow is the chain’s center gem, the Cinerama Dome, located on storied Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Deadline got the exclusive and explained what was going on with the closures and what it meant for the theaters.
The last thing we needed to hear as the box office and exhibition are rebounding from the pandemic was a piece of bad news, but word spread like wildfire in distribution and exhibition circles Monday that the Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres won’t be reopening. The chain, owned by Decurion, has issued a statement — read it below.
Decurion’s crown jewel is the Hollywood Arclight multiplex on Sunset Boulevard and its 58-year old Cinerama Dome, which made a big cameo in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and remains many filmmakers’ favorite venue. The Hollywood Arclight is also one of the highest-grossing movie theaters in the nation; again, a huge blow to the industry and the L.A. market, which is in its fourth week of a robust reopening.
Here’s Decurion’s statement:
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.
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.
Behind the scenes, what I hear that’s technically happening is that Decurion has handed the keys back to the landlords on all their Arclight and Pacific properties. That doesn’t mean the chain is bankrupt — rather, it is part of a thick lease negotiation. What happens in this instance is that the landlord decides which keys to keep and which they’d like to return to the exhibitor. No word yet that the chain is up for sale; I think it’s waiting to see what leases it gets back. Many of the Arclight venues the chain doesn’t own, and it’s those, I’m told, where the company is really down on its leases.
I’m sure this was obvious, but I don’t completely understand what’s going on. Deadline said that Decurion doesn’t own many of their ArcLight venues. The New York Times said Decurion does own their theaters but since IndieWire reported that ArcLight was just evicted from its Culver City location due to failure to pay rent, I think ArcLight’s leases are killing the entire chain. Most outlets confirm that unlike Alamo Drafthouse, which filed Chapter 11 in March, Decurion has not declared bankruptcy nor is it for sale as of this writing. We do know that the ArcLight and Pacific staffs were let go, so there were casualties. Imagine sticking out the entire pandemic, riding the hope that your job would be waiting for you, only to have a pink slip mailed to you right after the governor announced the state’s reopening date. That really stinks. I feel terrible for those staff. Especially since box office numbers are rising throughout LA.
The main focus, however, is the Cinerama because it is such a Hollywood institution. It’s a favorite of Quentin Tarantino and he looks for any opportunity to show it off. As mentioned, it appeared in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and even made it on to the movie poster. Filmmakers love to have premieres there because it’s such a showpiece and conducive to whatever extra way they want to promote their film. It looks like a miniature EPCOT from the outside and inside it boasts the largest contoured motion picture screen in the world. It’s 86 feet wide and 32 feet high – it’s a film geek’s wet dream. All of that is to say, I doubt it’s going anywhere. Pacific Theatre might lose it but someone else is already negotiating for it. I almost hope it goes to a chain because I fear a studio will buy it and then we’ll only get that studio’s films played there. It might be picked up by a single owner, but that could also come with its own issues with inheritance rights and such. Maybe it’s my ignorance, but I’m just not that worried about losing it. It is one of the few things Angelenos care about, I think it’ll be saved.
The Pink Panther at the Cinerama Dome. pic.twitter.com/hrkFRr66MF
— Peter Avellino (@PeterAPeel) April 13, 2021
Photo credit: Instagram