Cinerama Dome Among ArcLight, Pacific Theaters To Close Due To Pandemic Losses
Speaker 1: 00:00 The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Wasn't strong enough for the Pacific movie theater chain, the company, which includes LA Hoya's, ArcLight cinema, and the Cinerama dome in Hollywood announced last night that the movie chain was closing permanently. It's a sad day for Southern California film buffs who enjoyed the special ambiance and amenities at the ArcLight cinemas and the memories of the Cinerama dome. Joining me is KPBS arts reporter Beth Huck. Amando Beth. Welcome. Thank you. Did the Pacific theater chain give any specific reasons why it was closing, especially when theaters are starting to reopen? Speaker 2: 00:38 Well, they didn't cite anything really specific, but on their website, there was a statement that read after shutting our doors more than a year ago. Today, we must share the difficult and sad news that Pacific will not be reopening. It's ArcLight cinemas and Pacific theater locations. This is not the outcome anyone wanted, but despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options, the company does not have a viable way forward. So they didn't specifically say exactly what the cause was or exactly how much financial need or problems they may be in, but they just do not see a way to remain open and, you know, hearing this news, uh, in San Diego, I just feel like the pandemic is bracketed by these two great losses where we started the pandemic last March, losing the Ken cinema, which is our kind of iconic art house. And now losing the ArcLight, which is another wonderful, uh, art house venue for us. Speaker 1: 01:38 Talk to us about what made this chain of theaters unique Speaker 2: 01:42 For the ArcLight theaters. They really emphasized the viewing experience. So in LA more so than in San Diego ushers were known to chide attendees for looking at their cell phones and telling them they'd be objected if they actually continued to use their cell phones. But it was also an emphasis on the screening experience in terms of what films they showed, the quality of the prints or the screening materials that they used and, you know, great sound and just this sense of the movie going experience, being the most important thing. Speaker 1: 02:15 Now, when the announcement was made, the Twitter sphere erupted in sadness, especially over the closure of the Cinerama dome in LA, I have never been there. I have a feeling you have. Speaker 2: 02:26 Oh yes. So the Cinerama dome was this iconic movie landmark in the heart of the capital of the movie industry. It was built in 1963 and the first premiere it had was the 70 millimeter single strip Cinerama process of Stanley Kramer's. It's a mad, mad, mad world, and it had this 86 foot screen and seeing movies. There was just a breathtaking experience. Speaker 1: 02:50 It wasn't one of the last of its kind with those enormous Cinerama screens. Yeah, Speaker 2: 02:54 It was unique. And just the way it presented the film. I remember seeing the good, the bad, the ugly there. And I had seen that film before, but seeing it on that huge curved screen in this giant venue, some of those shots just played completely differently. And it was like rediscovering the film and, you know, places like the TCM film festival we'll screen stuff like grand Prix, which is meant to have that enormous expanse of the screen to really envelop you in the cinema experience. Speaker 1: 03:25 Now, all entertainment venues have been hit hard by the pandemic, but many like live theaters, uh, concert halls, uh, some were able to put together streaming events to keep them afloat. Did the movie chains have any avenues of revenue during their closure? Yeah. Speaker 2: 03:41 I mean, some of the chains, you know, each train has been different, but some chains did try to have virtual screenings, online screenings, streaming movies, but, you know, especially with a place like the Cinerama dome and the big arc light venue, it was an event experience and that's something you can't replicate at home. And with so many other streaming options, it was just hard to get film goers, to remain loyal to a physical venue when they had so many other streaming options. So even though there might've been some other options for them to make money, it was really difficult. And then on top of that, because the film industry shut down, there was just less new product and it was just a difficult thing to do. And there's so much competition out there in the streaming world right now. Speaker 1: 04:30 Do you expect to see more movie theater chains fold? Speaker 2: 04:34 You know, it's going to be a Rocky road ahead. I think there might be, if not entire chains closing, they might start consolidating theaters and not having quite as many venues in a single city. And, you know, as we've seen with the ArcLight and the Ken cinema closing, you know, it may be the more art house, the more mom and pop, the more single screen, those kinds of things that will close more readily than a bigger chain like AMC, which had a lot of influx of Speaker 1: 05:03 The money. And what other changes do you expect that the pandemic is going to make to theaters as we move on from here? Speaker 2: 05:11 You know, it's hard to say the United States went through a pandemic with the Spanish flu. There were social distancing, there were theaters closed back then. And the movie industry managed to come back from that. Now we have a lot of other options. So, you know, we, you're probably gonna see some very simple changes, like, you know, more touchless bathrooms where, you know, you don't have to turn on the sink or, you know, things like that. And you know, more maybe socially distance in terms of seating, but you know, people want to see movies and a big screen. And I think they're always going to be there in some way, shape or form, maybe not quite as many, but it all remains to be seen. Speaker 1: 05:53 It does indeed. I've been speaking with KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando, Beth. Thank you very much. Speaker 3: 05:59 Sure.