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Santa Monica's Arclight Theatre Shuttered Permanently

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By Jorge Casuso

April 13, 2021 -- Less than six years after opening, the state-of-the-art Arclight theater the helped revitalize Santa Monica's fading moviegoing scene will shutter, the latest victim of the coronavirus shutdown.

Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres made the announcement Monday, one week after Los Angeles County entered the "orange tier" that allows movie theaters to double their audience capacity after a year in the dark.

“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,” the company 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,” the statement read.

When Arclight opened its luxury 12-screen cinema on the third level of Santa Monica Place in late 2015 it burnished Downtown Santa Monica's tarnished reputation as a movie destination.

The new high-tech movie house -- with nearly 1,500 seats -- helped stem the flood of movie goers who had left the city to see blockbusters on IMAX screens.

The grand opening helped spur the renovation of the 44-year-old Laemmle Monica 4-Plex on Second Street, which reopened as the Monica Film Center.

The AMC 7 on the Promenade was also rebuilt, with wide, plush power recliners in its auditoriums, and the nearby Loews Broadway 4 received a similar upgrade.

The Arclight served as an anchor for the newly redeveloped Santa Monica Place and, along with the newly renovated movie theaters, attracted crowds that dined and shopped in the area.

The fate of the 50,000-square-foot space that had housed the third floor of Bloomingdale's is up in the air.

It has not been reported how much back rent the Arclight owes Macerich, the mall's owner, but the Culver City Arclight "could owe on the order of $2.2 million for a full year," according to a report Monday in Variety.

"It is possible, of course, that another company could assume these leases, buy the brands, and reopen the theaters," the entertainment trade magazine wrote.

"That might involve some tough conversations with landlords."

Arclight's announcement comes as movie theaters in LA County moved into a less restrictive phase of the coronavirus shutdown on April 5.

Under the "orange tier" capacity was increased from 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer, to 50 percent or 200 people, whichever is fewer.

Launched in 2002, ArcLight opened 11 locations nationwide, with six in the Los Angeles area -- including the flagship Hollywood theater and the historic Pacific Cinerama Dome -- as well as theaters in Boston, Chicago, Washington and San Diego.

"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," the company's statement read.

"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."

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