Curtain May Fall on Mann National

posted by movie on March 3, 2006 at 2:46 am

LOS ANGELES, CA — The UCLA Daily Bruin is reporting that the much beloved Mann National Theatre may close in July:

“Though the lights of the Mann Village and Bruin movie theaters will continue to vibrantly flash on the corner of Broxton and Weyburn avenues, the static lights of the Mann National Theatre may soon go dim. Come this July, Westwood may be one theater short, as Mann Theatres will not renew its lease for the National Theatre, located on Lindbrook Drive.”

Comments (16)

theprojectionist
theprojectionist on March 3, 2006 at 6:51 am

I was the projectionist at the Bay Theatre in Pacific Palisades when this theatre opened in March,1970 – naturally National General, the operators, hadn’t completed everything, so many of us were pressed into service helping Jerry Knowles, whom they transferred from the Village, to complete the installation. We made it. The opening picture was “The Boys in the Band”. If they’re not renewing the lease there are only two reasons for that – the rent is too high and/or the theatre is no longer profitable.
Sad, these changing times.

Coate
Coate on March 3, 2006 at 7:19 am

Hopefully the theater will not be closed and this is nothing more than a tactic to negotiate a better lease. The National, amazingly, has survived threats of being plexed and having stadium-seating installed.

For Westwood, most folks I know seem to like the Village the best. Me, I always preferred the National.

Some of the movies I remember seeing at the National:
Christmas Vacation
Clueless
Empire Of The Sun (70mm)
The Hunt For Red October (70mm)
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (70mm)
Interview With The Vampire
Lost In Space
Pretty In Pink
Some Kind Of Wonderful
Top Gun (70mm)
Star Trek: First Contact
The Untouchables (70mm)
Young Sherlcok Holmes (70mm)

I think the last thing I saw there was a press screening of “Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace.” I remember Jay Leno and a few of his “Tonight Show” colleagues sitting in the row behind me. They seemed to enjoy the movie…but that didn’t stop him from bashing it on his show the next night!

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on March 3, 2006 at 7:41 am

Usually I don’t post notes like this, but as one of my favorite theaters for contemporary, widescreen moviegoing, the National is an experience everyone in Southern California should have. The screen is enormous and, more importantly, how many other single screen theaters built during this era are still open and not divided?

A plea from a fan: please don’t close this theater. It will end whatever mystique Westwood has left as a moviegoer’s paradise.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 3, 2006 at 9:49 am

Ross is right. The National’s clean, contemporary design makes for great moviegoing, and too few such houses remain from its 1970’s era.

On vacation twice in 1998 in LA, I enjoyed two movies at the National: “Fallen”, and Costner’s “The Postman”. With its huge movie screen, terrific sound system, and huge seating capacity, in my opinion, the National has the MOST impressive auditorium in all of Los Angeles!

Although I know The Postman wasn’t very popular, it looked and sounded like a fantastic epic movie on that giant screen!

In the last couple years, we’ve sadly lost some of the best of our other post-WW2 huge single screen moviehouses: the Coronet in San Francisco, the ex-KB Cinema in Washington, D.C, and the Astor Plaza in Manhattan. Few survive, such as the Ziegfeld in Manhattan. The National provided a better movie going experience than any of them!

Does the rent from film premieres not pay the bills? Are real estate values so high now in Westwood Village that the National will be demolished to make way for a new building? Will the Fox Village, Bruin, and Crest next be at threat?

There are more historic and more ornate movie houses in Los Angeles, but let’s hope a movie operator picks up this lease! And, maybe studios can shift a few premieres from the theaters they have on studio lots to this real movie theater.

BradE41
BradE41 on March 3, 2006 at 9:57 am

The 3rd street promenade and AMC CENTURY theatres really killed Westwood in the 90’s. I guess The Grove and The Arclight are putting the final nails in the coffin. Not to mention the pending 14 plex in the Westside Pavilion; which is now under construction. Too bad people rather sit in small uncomfortable theatres these days than Grand Theatres with BIG screens and great sound. To me presentation is everything and my first choices are the National, Village, Bruin, Chinese and Arclight theatres whenever I see a film.

I’m sad by this news. Hopefully it is a tactic by Mann; otherwise it will be gone because it would not be logical for someone to take it over. I have great memories of the National; I worked at the Village Theatre between the years of 1980 – 1982; and the BIG THREE Mann Theatres were the top Theatres in L.A.

Suggestion; If Mann would put some money into it and replace the uncomfortable and broken seats perhaps people would like to go there more often. That is my ONLY complaint about it currently; otherwise it is a great theatre. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it stays and I plan to make as many visits as I can until July.

Bud K
Bud K on March 3, 2006 at 10:38 am

Its Called Marketing, The Dome is doing very well with all the marketing that Arclight does, Any time I travel to LA, I take in a movie no mater what it is, I agree fix the seats and Oh I just had a Great Idea, Here’s another gem Arclight, Lease or Buy it and continue your legacy in the market !!

moviebluedog
moviebluedog on March 3, 2006 at 10:44 am

I think the National is a valuable theatre to preserve. The theatre is a classic example of modern theatre design that’s been lost over the past ten years. Most theatres built during the 1960s and early 1970s are now gone. Though many of the theatres built in 1970s weren’t very good in design or aesthetic, this one stands out.

Is the National as ornate as some of the movie palaces built during the 1920s? Of course not, but for a modern theatre, it’s wonderful. Thankfully it hasn’t been split, like its sister theatre was in the mid-1970s, the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA.

I wish exhibitors would stop this madness of closing down theatres like this. This theatre withstood the multiplex craze of the 1970s and 1980s and the current megaplex craze started in 1995. I believe if given a renovation, this theatre would stand up strong with the Village and Bruin.

Audiences really do crave theatrical experiences in big house like the National, and they will spend big bucks for the experience. By killing this theatre, what’s to say that the Village or Chinese couldn’t be closed in favor of opening a big megaplex? The Avco has already been destroyed, in my opinion, ever since GCC split the main house in half. Now GCC no longer exists and audiences see movies in compromised viewing conditions. If the National closes, I think we might as well kiss Westwood goodbye as a movie haven, if we haven’t already. It distresses me to think that the AMCs of the world have taken over and pretty much killed the moviegoing experience.

The Cinerama Dome was saved due to a valiant effort by film lovers (and a gentleman named Doug Haines) and apparently is thriving with the addition of ArcLight Cinemas next door. Why can’t Mann do the same with the National? Make it the anchor to a bigger complex.

Save The National!

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on March 3, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Somehow, some way, this theatre must be saved! Hopefully another chain (preferably one that’s interested in preserving the legacy of classic theatres) will swoop in and save this wonderful theatre.

movie48
movie48 on March 10, 2006 at 8:23 am

OK-I have an idea on how to save the National and keep it going as a first run theatre-wile at the same time trying something a little new and different in Westwood. It would require some investors though as my chances of winning the lottery are pretty slim. I am very familiar with the National, I know this theatre inside and out, and I have been working in the theatre business for years. If anyone who is serious about this and wants to here a pitch and proposal, please send an e-mail to

BradE41
BradE41 on March 14, 2006 at 10:13 am

Have there been any updates? I am hoping it is just negotions going through a rough patch. Mann needs to keep this theatre open. There will never be a screen like it ever again. The AMC treatment of theatres really did in the grand movie theatres and this theatre needs to be saved. Common Mann… What are you going to do with only 3 screens left in Westwood Village? The National is an exceptional theatre.

BradE41
BradE41 on March 28, 2006 at 10:28 am

There is no longer Online Ticket purchasing for The National on the Mann Theatres Website. I guess they are really slowly closing it down. I’m truly sad about this.

timquan
timquan on May 6, 2006 at 11:00 am

Just checked the Mann Theatres website, and I was surprised there were no movies scheduled for either this week or next week at the National. ‘Poseidon’ may play at the Bruin instead.

markinthedark
markinthedark on May 24, 2006 at 6:49 am

Last week the National shared Poseidon with the Bruin. Right now it is sharing The Da Vinci Code with the Festival. Next week’s schedule shows the National holding DaVinci, The Bruin getting The DaVince moved up from the Festival, which gets a Poseidon downgrade.

moviebluedog
moviebluedog on March 27, 2007 at 6:45 am

A friend of mine says that the National is closing this week. It’s going to be gutted and turned into retail. Gotta love how the exhibition industry has made the moviegoing experience generic with megaplexes. Sure, some aren’t too bad like ArcLight, but you don’t see the quality and expansive presentation that the National had.

markinthedark
markinthedark on March 27, 2007 at 9:09 am

Sad. No wonder they booked “Shooter” at the Bruin and “TMNT” at the Festival (both smaller theatres) this past weekend and moved “Zodiac” over to the National. Too bad there is no preservation protection for theatres of this era.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Its gone a vancant lot now.

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