Will We Ever See A Theater Like The ArcLight Again?

Last Thursday Deadline Hollywood reported the news that The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood would not reopen in 2023. Decurion, the corporation that owns the Dome and the ArcLight Theater behind it on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood indicated they are shooting for 2024.
It’s yet another gut punch to those of us who loved The ArcLight. It’s not just another cineplex, not just another theater chain.
Here’s what I wrote just over 2 years ago when Decurion announced all their ArcLight and Pacific Theaters would not reopen after the Coronavirus pandemic. My feelings of loss have not changed one bit.



April 15, 2021

What do you think of when you think of a movie theater? Popcorn. Sticky floors. Ads and lots of trailers for new movies.

Sometimes it feels like a place you have to endure rather than enjoy.

Then there are the movie palaces. The TCL Chinese Theater, the El Capitan and The Egyptian in Hollywood. The Village and Bruin in Westwood. Grand old theaters that are almost as much of an attraction as the movies they show.

The Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard fits into that category. With its iconic white dome and massive screen, it was a regular choice for premieres and events. But now, it seems like we may never set foot inside again.

On Monday, Decurion – which owns the Dome and the ArcLight and Pacific Theater chains – announced none of their theaters will reopen. They had been shut down for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. And they will remain shuttered.

Losing a movie palace like the Cinerama Dome is sad and maybe a benefactor can step in and save it (I’m looking at you Quentin Tarantino. After all, you saved the New Beverly).

But allow me a few moments to wax romantic about the ArcLight Theaters. They were not palaces. But they were special places for people who love the movie-going experience. They brought the feel of a palace to the multiplex. No ads. Only three trailers before the feature began. Reserved seating allowed you to choose your perfect spot in the theater.

It was a little more expensive but that ensured only serious moviegoers were going to be there. The aisles and seats were a little wider, a little more comfortable.

But wait, there’s more. ArcLight had hosts introduce every movie. They all wore the same blue shirt buttoned up to the neck. Some were going through the motions. Others were really into it. They would pump you up, preview the movie, maybe tell a joke or two.

That was before the show. After some movies, you could watch “ArcLight Stories” attached to the end where JD Cargill would talk to the filmmakers and actors about what you just watched, giving you insight into the care and love that went into the project.

There were the special screenings with live Q&A’s that followed. I saw Armie Hammer discuss Call Me by Your Name, Rian Johnson talk about Knives Out and Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham and Taylor Sheridan discuss Hell or High Water.

I got a baseball cap after watching Dunkirk. A gift book after The Hateful Eight. If you were a member, every month you’d get a special gift like an ArcLight cap, a blanket,  free popcorn or movie candy. They seemed to care about you as much as you cared about movies.

There were costume displays in the lobby. Real butter on the popcorn. Don’t get me started about the caramel corn. It was a religious experience.

My go-to theaters were the one in Sherman Oaks and the one in Hollywood. Hollywood was special because you could walk over to Amoeba Music and do a little shopping before going to a show. Then there was the time I got accosted by Guillermo from Jimmy Kimmel Live before the first screening of Jason Bourne. I don’t think I made it on Kimmel, but I tried to play along best I could.

You could see the latest Marvel blockbuster or a “festival” of Oscar nominated animated shorts.

I could go on and on.

In a year of lockdown, what got me through was the idea I could once again go to the ArcLight and see a movie at my favorite theater. Now that hope is gone and I’m almost inconsolable. Maybe some corporation will step in and save the day. Now wouldn’t that be a great movie?

4 thoughts on “Will We Ever See A Theater Like The ArcLight Again?

  1. It’s so weird. I really didn’t like the Arclight – it was a bitch getting to and it was dirty and the seats were hard flops/theater was in major decline the last years..tbut then they had little things like real butter on popcorn which only Landmark Pico (also now closed) or Laemmle’s have – but the Dome was in a class of its own. So for that I miss it – and I want the Dome to re-open if just for the simple reason I’m tired of losing amazing landmarks. But movie going just isn’t the go-to it once was and sadly, it will be a hard sell for many. Weirdly almost all the other Arclights have been taken over and are doing well, at least those around me on the Westside.


    • Those were small issues for me. The lack of ads, the 3 trailers, the ArcLight Stories and the events all outweighed the rest for me. I saw more films in Sherman Oaks than Hollywood, maybe those issues were more prevelant in Hollywood. anyhow, I miss it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that might be the case. I live on the West Side and since going to the Valley is like ‘over the hill and through the woods..to grandmothers house we go’ for me (hahahahah) I only ever went to Hollywood – and that even was a rough drive. Oddly, Culver City & Santa Monica though both extremely nice theaters.. never really had the events that Hollywood did. Culver City used to host the Spirit Award screenings but that was about it. Here and there something, but the great post Q & A’s – not so much which I always found strange and they were both really nice. I want the Cinerama back very badly though. In the meantime, let’s keep supporing movies in theaters. Best to you Alan I always enjoy reading your posts!


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