In a blow for Southern California moviegoers — and those in Los Angeles in particular — the ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres are closing all of their 16 locations for good after seeing their business decimated by the pandemic.
ArcLight’s stable includes the prized Cinerama Dome Hollywood. The Dome, built in 1963 by Pacific Theatres’ parent company, the Decurion Corp., is the crown jewel of the small theater complex that was reconstructed in the early 2000s.
Throughout the decades, the Dome in particular has been a favorite site to stage premieres — it timed its opening to the global launch of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World — and is beloved among many cinephiles.
In recent years, the ArcLight Hollywood complex has been a bastion for both first-run movies and independent titles and was among the first L.A. cinemas to offer high-end food.
ArcLight’s locations in Hollywood and elsewhere, including Sherman Oaks, are operated by Pacific Theatres. The Pacific side of the aisle includes such popular locations as the Grove in West Hollywood. Outside of California, there are Arclight Cinemas in Maryland, Boston and Chicago and Bethesda Maryland.
“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,” said a statement issued by Pacific Theatres.
“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,” the statement continued. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve you.”
No ArcLight or Pacific location has reopened since the pandemic began. On Monday afternoon, word quickly spread across Hollywood that they will remain dark for good.
It wasn’t immediately clear who the pool of potential buyers might include for the more high-profile locations, should they be up for sale, such as the ArcLight Hollywood complex. Last year, Netflix closed a deal to operate the Egyptian, another landmark Hollywood theater that’s not far from the Cinerama Dome. Among the mega-chains, Cinemark only has two L.A. locations (one in Baldwin Hills and the other in Playa Vista).
At the outset of the pandemic, the National Association of Theatre Owners warned that smaller and regional independent chains, such as Pacific and ArcLight, might never recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
News of ArcLight’s demise promoted a litany of tributes from filmmakers on Twitter. Moonlight director Barry Jenkins succinctly summed up the prevailing mood about the closure with a one-word expletive. Jon M. Chu wrote, “What sad news. I loved this theater. And I had my first premiere for my first movie Step Up 2 the Streets there. I snuck out of the movie early so I could cut a piece of the red carpet out and keep it. It sits on my desk. Man, this is hard to read.” Old Guard helmer Gina Price-Bythewood tweeted, “This is so painful. The ArcLight is my go-to. Clean, great sound, assigned stadium seating, great popcorn, usher movie introductions. A true movie-going experience.”
Rian Johnson also weighed in via Twitter, “Well this sucks. Every single person who worked at the ArcLight loved movies, and you felt it. Sending love to every usher, manager and projectionist who rocked that blue shirt and made it such a special place.”
Later on Monday night, there were moments of gallows humor on social media. A number of users semi-seriously implored filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino to step in and secure the future of Arclight Hollywood, and screenwriter, director, producer and actor Jon Kasdan tweeted his thoroughly decent proposal of people going in with him to buy the building. Among those answering Kasdan’s clarion call was Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and Rebel showrunner Krista Vernoff.