Earlier this week, Hollywood was heartbroken to learn the sad news that ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres would be closing all of their locations, including the famed Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard. Industry insiders, directors, and general audiences grieved the loss of these Southern California institutions by sharing their favorite moviegoing memories, but the future of the Dome remains murky. Thanks to a couple of recent reports, though, we’ve learned about two ways the Cinerama Dome could be saved – and why it seems unlikely that the iconic building will be converted into a high-end restaurant.
In the late 1990s, a proposal was put forward to convert the Cinerama Dome into a restaurant. It did not go well. According to The L.A. Times, the Dome was designated L.A. Historic-Cultural Monument No. 659, which gave it a number of significant protections from developers looking to change things up. Those protections still stand, and the city would have to approve any major alterations; the city council and the cultural heritage commission also have the power to delay a permit for demolition for up to a year, should a company swoop in to buy the theater with the intention of razing it to the ground.
With that seeming like an unlikely outcome in the current scenario, Variety published an article suggesting some options that could end up saving the Cinerama Dome (although the fate of the nearby theater which currently houses ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood remains unclear). One option is that the current owners could decide to keep the Dome in place and continue using it for screenings and special events. “There are some rumblings that Christopher Forman, president of the Decurion, the theaters’ parent company, might continue to operate that venue,” the outlet reports. “In that scenario, he might enlist other investors or reposition it to be even more of a Hollywood-centric institution than it already is. The cinema currently hosts many filmmaker Q&A’s and special screenings for Oscars and awards voters, and the thought is that could continue to be a viable business.”
If that doesn’t happen, there’s always the chance that another buyer swoops in to earn a bunch of goodwill and capitalize on the opportunity to own a thriving hotspot of Hollywood’s cinematic landscape. Fans have called for companies like Netflix to purchase the theater, but since the streamer recently bought the Egyptian Theater a few blocks away, that doesn’t seem like the most probable outcome to me. Instead, Variety says Alamo Drafthouse “could make a play for the venue when it reemerges from bankruptcy.” The company recently moved into the downtown L.A. area, and after declaring bankruptcy, has gotten a new equity investment and has expressed interest in continuing to expand its footprint. Despite its behind-the-scenes problems, the company clearly puts love and care into movie exhibition, so I could envision a world in which they’d want to be the saviors of this location that means so much to so many. Stay tuned for more info as we learn it.
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