Pacific and ArcLight theaters will not reopen following the pandemic, company says

Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

In a stunning blow to moviegoers, cinema chain Pacific Theatres and ArcLight Cinemas will not reopen its locations, the company said Monday.

"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."

Los Angeles-based Pacific, whose locations include the popular ArcLight Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, is the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic that wrecked the theatrical exhibition industry. Theaters in Los Angeles just started to reopen last month in time for the release of Warner Bros.'s "Godzilla vs. Kong." But while large chains such as AMC reopened swiftly, smaller companies have taken longer.

Hollywood studios delayed their big blockbusters for months and month, waiting for more theaters to reopen across the country. The wait created a vicious chicken-and-egg scenario, in which theaters struggled without big new movies to show and studios didn't want to shoulder the risk of releasing expensive blockbusters in a hampered market.

The demise of ArcLight and Pacific, which are owned by L.A.-based Decurion Corp, is one of the highest profile entertainment industry companies to go fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Theaters across the country have negotiated deferred rent payments to landlords. It is not clear what ultimately forced Pacific and ArcLight to throw in the towel. Previously, Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as did Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill, but both have said they're not going out of business.

A spokesman for Pacific and ArcLight declined to provide further comment.


ArcLight, launched in 2002, had 11 locations — six in the Los Angeles area including the flagship Hollywood theater and Pacific Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard. It also has theaters in Boston, Chicago, Washington and San Diego. Among its popular destinations was the Santa Monica 14-screen theater that opened in 2015.

The ArcLight brand was of particular importance in the film community, which reveres its local cinemas. The Hollywood location hosted special industry screening and frequently had filmmakers as guests to speak to attendees. ArcLight was also a pioneer in the trend of movie houses serving wine, beer and cocktails.

ArcLight faced increasing competition from bigger companies trying to up the luxury cinema game with recliner seats and in-theater dining. Companies such as Cinepolis and AMC opened theaters that offered patrons the option of ordering food from their seats.

Pacific had six locations, all in California, including theaters in Glendale at the Americana at Brand and at the Grove shopping complex. Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry, was among the last major metropolitan areas to reopen theaters, making the company particularly vulnerable to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Los Angeles based arthouse chain Laemmle, which is family owned, didn't reopen until this past weekend.

"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," Pacific Theatres added in its statement. "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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