Cinerama Dome, ArcLight and Pacific Theatres are closing permanently: How we got here, what we’ll miss

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ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres announced Monday that they will not reopen any of their locations, including the beloved Cinerama Dome on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. 

Pacific Theatres said in a statement, “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.” 

Many filmmakers, actors, and others took to Twitter to express grief and nostalgia for their experiences in the theaters.

Ben Schwartz has worked in Hollywood since the early 2000s. He tweeted that ArcLight Hollywood was his favorite spot to see movies, and it was where he saw his first film in LA and his last film pre-pandemic. 

He tells KCRW that certain things about ArcLight made the movie-going experience special: 

“When I got to LA, ArcLight was the first place where you can buy your tickets beforehand, [and] you could pick exactly where you want to do it [sit] in the theater, and everybody has their phones off.

It seems like everybody appreciates cinema and film, even if we're watching a silly comedy or watching a Marvel movie. … It feels like you're around cinephiles. So I loved that so much. 

Also, in the movie theaters, if you ever go to the bathroom, they play themes. So you can be taking a poop to Indiana Jones, which is very exciting.”

Schwartz says at ArcLight, everyone waits for the film credits, listening to the song. “It's because so many people here work in the industry that they want to appreciate it to the last drop, and then immediately talk about it in that fun busy lobby.” 

Challenges with rent and revenue 

Matt Atchity, general manager of Moviefone and co-host of the podcast Breakfast all Day, says that because of the pandemic, we haven’t heard that much about ArcLight and other movie chains that were forced to close last year. 

He points to one theory for why the movie chains decided to close permanently: “The Decurion Corporation that owns both Pacific Theatres and the ArcLight, run by the Forman family who first built the Dome back in the 60s, [is] playing hardball with their landlords.”

He cites a recent report in Indiewire that says Culver City’s ArcLight faced an eviction notice after not being able to pay hefty rent in March. He adds that the Hollywood ArcLight probably had higher rent. 

“It could be a certain amount of hardball that the company is playing, but it's not a good sign that they've let their whole staff go.” 

For people who both work in film and cover it as journalists, Atchity says the news hits hard because ArcLight Hollywood is their main spot. “If you're in the industry, that's where you go. There's so many media screenings there and critic screenings there — and the Grove.”

He says screenings at both ArcLight Hollywood and the Grove brought in lots of revenue beyond “the regular business of exhibition.”

“I suspect that the Hollywood location and the Grove may have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, because those screenings dried up. So over and above the fact that they can't show any movies and get that ticket rental cost, that whole separate line item was gone for a year. And I think that probably hit Pacific especially hard.”