Pacific Theaters movie chain closing for good due to the pandemic

It's the worst-case scenario for the movie business: A much-loved theater chain appears to be shutting down.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read
ArcLight theater
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ArcLight theater

Hollywood's iconic ArcLight theater.

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News that movie fans and industry insiders have feared for over a year: the pandemic has claimed a movie theater chain. The much-loved Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres chain, which runs 16 sites mostly on the West Coast of the US, is reported to be closing its doors.

Parent company Decurion issued a statement to Deadline saying that "despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options, the company does not have a viable way forward." It's not yet clear how many jobs will be lost.

Lockdown measures tackling the coronavirus pandemic have temporarily shuttered movie theaters across the globe for some or all of the past 12 months. Almost 40% of US theaters remain closed, and movie studios like Disney and Warner Bros. are opening some of their biggest new blockbusters like Black Widow and Godzilla vs. Kong on their online streaming services Disney Plus and HBO Max -- a controversial move with filmmakers and exhibitors. If movie fans choose to watch the newest films at home rather than venturing out, it puts increased pressure on independent venues and theater chains. AMC and Regal are among the businesses reported to have struggled in the past year.

The timing is pretty unfortunate given that pandemic restrictions in parts of the US, the UK and the rest of the world are relaxing following the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines. However, even when venues are allowed to reopen they may have limits on the number of moviegoers allowed in, impacting ticket revenue and all-important concession sales.

The flagship of the Pacific Theaters chain is the Arclight multiplex on LA's Sunset Boulevard, prominently seen in Quentin Tarantino's recent ode to Tinseltown, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Opened in 1963, the theater sits in the world's first concrete geodesic dome. Hollywood royalty including Rian Johnson, Barry Jenkins, James Gunn, Lulu Wang, Edgar Wright, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mindy Kaling and Elijah Wood expressed their dismay at the closure on social media.

Decurion has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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