After Arclight, theaters won’t be the same

The ArcLight theater in Los Angeles’ Hollywood, March 13, 2020. The closure of the ArcLight chain includes the Cinerama Dome, which was first shuttered when the coronavirus pandemic hit. (Photo: NYTimes)
The ArcLight is a place for people who love movies. If you’re a filmmaker, if you love movies, you just appreciated everything that the ArcLight put into making it a curated moviegoing experience. They always had the films that we wanted to see, but they also had special screenings of movies that hadn’t been out for years and a balance between big blockbusters and independent films. They made it an event. We never had to go anywhere else but the ArcLight — because you knew it was an experience every time, and you just didn’t want to cheat on your theater. There was no reason to go anywhere else.اضافة اعلان

Ours was ArcLight Sherman Oaks, which was beautiful. The second you walk in, it’s about film. To the left was this very cool gift shop, which had film memorabilia and books, and then there would be the bar with great hot chocolate and coffee. There was a whole costume display from whichever film they were focused on, whether it be “Star Wars” or a period piece. The concessions stand was always packed because the food was really good — but there were tons of people working, so the lines moved fast.

They had this entire wall of movie posters, and as a filmmaker, you’re always hoping that your poster would show up there. “Love & Basketball” premiered at the Cinerama Dome, and that was incredible to have my first film be at this iconic theater, with the red carpet and the excitement of it, and to see my film up on the marquee. My husband’s film, when he wrote “Get on the Bus,” also played there. To take a picture of the marquee, to have your movie poster be on rotation, it was exciting. And it made you feel like you’re working on something.

My husband and I, when we were dating, would go to the movies once a week. Nobody else at the time had assigned seating. You know when you used to go to the theater, and you’d have to get there super early, searching for two spots, and you knew where you’d like to sit, and those seats are never available because someone’s there already, and you’re — you know, “Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me”? Here, you picked your favorite seat, you walked in, and you sat down and then the usher would come, and the experience will begin.

All the ushers and everybody who worked there clearly love movies; you could ask them which film they would recommend, and they would go into detail why they loved it.

To hear that the ArcLight, of all theaters, was shutting down was a shock. It was kind of a blow to that fantasy that we were going to get back to where we were. Streaming has been great during this time, but I still love theaters. I love the collective experience of watching a film with people I don’t know who are all feeling the same things.

I’m just staying optimistic that someone is going to step up and purchase the theaters. It’s too important to the industry; it’s too important to the audiences; the meaning of it is just too important for it to just go away. I have this fantasy that Netflix or Apple or George Clooney is just going to step up and save it, because it needs to be here. 

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