I live very close to the Westside Pavillion. When I first moved here almost 2 years ago, they entire Westside Too went under construction, closing a sub par Barnes and Noble. I was a bit upset as I wasn't walking distance to a bookstore anymore, but shortly after closing, Landmark announced the entire complex was to reopen on June 1 as a fancy arthouse movie complex. The Barnes and Noble would also get a mini-makeover and reopen with the movie theaters.
During that time, Century City also had a movie makeover. They re-did their entire mall and, while I have only seen one or two movies there since the reopening, I was impressed by the nicer chairs and a much better ambiance in the theater. Regardless of how nice Century City's new theater's are, the best movie house in all of Los Angeles is the ArcLight. I would rather drive to see a movie at the ArcLight, then see a movie at one of the old theaters in Westwood or that hellish place that most people call the Grove.
But now, it seems that when the new Landmark Theaters open in the Westside Pavillion, every theater in town will be scared out of their mind. Yesterday's LA Times ran a story comparing the new Landmark theaters to the ArcLight and the new Landmark destroyed the ArcLight. Cheaper tickets, free parking, La Brea Bakery pretzels, locally made pickle relish are among the reasons why Kevin Crust chose the Landmark over the ArcLight.
That article came only a few days after another article in the LA Times explaining how movie zones work:
The Landmark won't just be challenging other theaters for moviegoers' affections; it also must prove to distributors that it's the best place to show their most coveted films.
Historically, distributors have divided Southern California into a number of moviegoing zones: Westwood is one zone, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills make up another, and so on. A new movie typically plays at one — and only one — theater in each zone. The Landmark will be in the same zone as the AMC Century City, meaning the two complexes often will be vying for the same titles.
The Landmark hopes it will enjoy equal, if not preferential, treatment. Exactly what films will be shown in the multiplex on its opening weekend are undetermined. "I am going to buy as many exclusive films as I can," says Chief Operating Officer Ted Mundorff. "We've had discussions with all the distributors about how they view the marketplace."
So now, the Landmark has two very clear enemies. I am sure the ArcLight, being the leader of the movie going experience, was not enjoying the way this was playing out. Your move ArcLight (from their email blast):
We want you to be among the first to know that ArcLight Cinemas is expanding to Sherman Oaks. The Pacific Theatres Galleria 16 is transforming into ArcLight Sherman Oaks, with ArcLight’s signature amenities and guest service, including 16 black-box auditoriums with reserved seating and extra-wide chairs, a café bar, gift shop and exhibits. The renovation process begins in June and the theater will remain open during the first phase of construction so that our customers can continue to see films until August. Our plan is to unveil ArcLight Sherman Oaks during this year’s holiday season.
This is a genius move for two reasons: 1) because the valley has nothing like the ArcLight and 2) because the Pacific Sherman Oaks Galleria isn't that far from the Westside Pavillion (barring traffic) - it's just a short trip on the 405. This strategic movie by Pacific will probably limit some movie goers making that trip to the Westside.
So, the Movie Theater Wars are upon us. By Christmas time we will have two ArcLights and a two Westside megaplexes (literally one mile apart) vying for our attention. Who knows how this will play out.