By Alina Issakhanian
On April 13, popular movie theater chains, beloved by Californians, ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters announced that they were ceasing operations and closing all of their 300+ theaters in California as well as the historic Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. This comes after the temporary closure of the theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 company said in a statement.
While Los Angeles County expanded capacity for indoor moviegoing to 50 percent, many smaller chains continue to find it difficult to remain solvent and successful after more than a year of being closed.
Most heartbreaking for some is the closure of the iconic Cinerama Dome, which opened in 1963. The Cinerama Dome hosted many Hollywood premieres, including their first premiere of Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.” For the premier of “Shrek 2,” the Dome was painted green. It has been featured in movies and television shows including the recent Quentin Tarantino film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
After the announcement of the closure of the Dome, many Hollywood notables took to social media where they expressed their thoughts and sentiments.
“I’m so sad. I remember going to the Cinerama Dome to see ‘Star Trek IV’ with my dad when I was little. So many memories since then,” tweeted actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
“The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson tweeted, “Well this sucks. Every single person who worked at the Arclight loved movies, and you felt it. Sending love to every usher, manager and projectionist who rocked that blue shirt and made it such a special place.”
Johnson was one of many who expressed appreciation for the ArcLight Hollywood original concept of ushers who introduced each showing and remained a present part of the moviegoing experience as well as the hardworking staff.
Not only has this affected Hollywood notables, but it has had a major impact on locals who spent their time at the theater chains.
“I remember when I was a lot younger, I always wanted to go to Pacific theaters. It had become a regular place I would go with my family on the weekends after dinner. I was so sad to hear that they closed down because I had made so many memories with my family there. It was a place where I would hang out with friends after a stressful day at school. It’s always sad to hear that a place that brings me nostalgia shuts down,” senior Elisa Gevorgian said.
For some people, the moviegoing experience was just that, an experience, more than simply seeing a movie. People remember the cold air, the hot popcorn, the audience reactions to certain scenes and of course the comfy chairs.
“My local theater, which was a Pacific theater, was one of those places where, as a kid, my imagination could go wild. In fact, a lot of things that I aspire to be came from what I used to see at the movies, and seeing the closure of the physical place where my imagination bloomed as a child makes me incredibly sad,” senior Mohotasim Rahman said.
There are plans, however, to re-open the theaters at certain locations, including those at The Grove and The Americana at Brand, though through different companies. As for the fans of the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard, there has been a petition started on Change.org to preserve the venue. The petition already has more than 20,000 signatures, with a goal of 25,000.
Unfortunately, the reality of this situation is that the theaters are gone and as expressed by representatives of the ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters, there was no other option for them, going forward. COVID-19 has not been kind to businesses and many have had to face this same fate. All we can hold onto now is our memories and hope for the preservation of the Cinerama Dome.