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I went to the Chinese to see Fast & Furious (both the opening weekend Thursday midnight and Saturday night shows).
The biggest mistake Mann seems to be making with this theater (other than the bookings, obviously) is that they really seem to be going out of their way to make this theater a tourist trap. Unlike the Dome or the Village, where you really have to make an effort to go to those theaters, the Chinese grabs people off the street with nothing better to do. For the Thursday midnight, that wasn’t a problem because only people who really wanted to see the movie were on Hollywood Blvd at that time. The Saturday show was another story entirely with families and yapping teens and crying babies all over the place! Just a really horrible experience. The majesty and the experience of the Chinese is essentially wasted on these people who would be just as happy in a 100 seat AMC auditorium.
After spending so much time with the Arclight and the Dome, the Chinese is really starting to become a disappointment. Mann should be spending more time trying to improve the overall experience for people who make a point to go to the Chinese and less time worrying about pulling people in from the courtyard who are going to see a movie there once and then never come back. The tourists come and go, but the movie-lovers are what has kept that theater successful for decades.
Sadly, it’s a shadow of how mighty it once was. I wish Mann would just get out of the movie business already and let someone else (preferably Pacific) put some muscle behind it.
I was just thinking about this theater today because it’s been about a year now since they destroyed it. As many have seen, the lot still sits empty a year later with no sign of development.
Given the economy now, I have to wonder how long that property will now sit abandoned, with no investor wanting fund development of the site. Seeing as how the loss of the National under the Mann lease seemed to be all about, according to Mann, “unrealistic rent,” was the National just under victim of the spiraling greed of the real estate explosion? Given how real estate and the economy in general has been bottoming out, I have to wonder…
Was The National unnecessarily demolished?
It seems to me (and of course I don’t know the whole story) that the owners of the land realized everyone seemed to be making a killing on their real estate investments and decided they wanted in on that as well. When Mann’s lease came up for renewal, they (from the sound of it) came to Mann with terms that Mann saw as an “unrealistic” jump from the increases they had been accustomed to negotiating. Mann decides it can’t operate profitably with those terms, the theater closes, and the landlords cavalierly hack away at a piece of Westwood’s history so to quickly make room for one of the countless faceless businesses/building that populate anywhere USA (only to seemingly get F’d in the A when they can’t one of those faceless bodies to occupy and pay for that corner – I’m sure investors would never ask things like, “How long was that Hollywood Video across the street there before they closed?”)
Now I’m not saying that the landlords don’t have every right to try and charge fair market value for the use of their property. They certainly do. But sometimes being profitable isn’t always about how much money you can make today. Sometimes you need to be in the business of relationships. The National had occupied that corner for nearly 40 years. It was a Westwood landmark (even if a group of politicians didn’t see it as such). It had contributed income for a myriad of Westwood businesses (how many dinners were sold at countless restaurants by National patrons in the village for a night out?). The city made money from parking fees of movie-goers… the list goes on. And it stood with one purpose… to show movies. It should have been allowed to remain as such so long as it wasn’t unprofitable for the landlords. They should have made a little extra effort to consider the theater’s importance historically and its future potential.
If this is the way it really happened (and I don’t know if it is or not, just a theory) then I can only hope that the property has become a huge financial burden for the landlords over the last year and in their singular quest to make an extra dollar they’re wishing they’d never have let The National go…
That would be a sweet slice of karma.
Well now we know what movie bcareful saw them prepping to shoot at the Dome from his September 19th post of 2007…
And the hits just keep on rolling (over to the Dome). Quantum of Solace is now on sale at Arclight. So in a single year, the Chinese has managed to lose Indiana Jones, Batman, and now James Bond. If the Chinese manages to lose Star Trek and Harry Potter next summer, it might be time to panic (although I’m sure they’ll have no trouble snagging Land of the Lost and Final Destination 4).
If I remember correctly, I think Mann only has 13 locations to book for. That’s not the industry pull that they had in the 1980s when they one of the top operators in the country. I would say the only reason they still get any attention AT ALL is because they still operate the Chinese, Village, and Bruin.
The truth is that Arclight just has more to offer. For example, when Dark Knight opened, the Arclight had 13 sold out shows starting at midnight. Same thing with Indiana Jones. The Chinese just physically can’t offer that to a studio. Arclight probably has somewhere in the neighborhood of 6000-7000 seats to offer a studio. Mann can probably only offer half that.
The Chinese complex really needs to be transformed into something spectacular but it’s too late for that now. Mann entered a 21st century theater market using a 20th century complex. They were wrong. I think the very best option would be for Pacific to take it over use both complexes (Dark Knight might be in the main Chinese, but with a few smaller screens over the Arclight and vice-versa). Cause any other chain is going to be up against the same challenges that Mann is dealing with right now.
They’re playing Ghost Town… I guess it’s somewhat appropriate.
Mann is slowly but surely withering on the vine. I agree with others that the six-plex was a horrible idea. Pacific thought it through and created two monsters with the Arclight and the Grove. Mann could have done something really spectacular with their expansion, but instead created six 1990s style auditoriums that are no different than something you’d find in any neighborhood multiplex. I love the Chinese, but what I’d love more is something decent to see at the Chinese. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
I appreciate your response and, regarding the sound issue, somethings things just happen. The problem with these kinds of problems is that you can’t just stop and then start all over again (lest you risk some serious wrath). I certain appreciate the effort you guys put into the show, and I wouldn’t hesitate to attend another show in the future (This is Cinerama- please). I was sitting there during the overture staring up at the ceiling thinking how lucky I am to live in an area where this stuff is commonplace. I’m glad to see you guys finally putting the Dome to some good use (I was also there for the Wednesday showing of The Fly). Despite what some people think, The Dome is one of the few true Cinema Treasures left and I’m always happy to walk up that hallway and enter that auditorium (but more so when the film isn’t something like Scary Movie 17 or Jeepers Creepers 6).
I was also at the HTWWW show and, unfortunately, I walked out about an hour in. The soundtrack mishap was really so annoying and distracting that I couldn’t sit through it. It was exciting to be able to see the film in this format, but the whole thing was just really poorly executed (including starting the show 45-minutes late).
And could they have found worse seats for the special guests? Putting Russ Tamblyn and his family on the floor way over to the side seemed wrong.
I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to find a movie to get me over to the Egyptian (sorry, but the homosexual cinema of the Ukraine isn’t exactly in my demographic). Got to go to the premiere of The Clone Wars today and after all of the doom and gloom in this thread I was fearing the worst. Much to my great surprise, I really enjoyed the theater. No, it doesn’t have the opulence or grandeur of the Chinese, El Capitan, or even the Cinerama Dome, but I found it to be quite a bit better than just a typical “screening room.” Now I certainly understand the complaints of this theater not being restored to match its original design and that’s something I can’t argue with. It’s going to come down to personal preference… the pre-show presentation versus the feature presentation. As for screen size, I would say the screen is comparable to the screen at the Village. I found it quite large and certainly more so than the average multiplex. Does it match the size of the theater’s former incarnation? Probably not, but it’s certainly larger than the screen at the El Capitan. I also found the sight-lines in the theater to be excellent. It’s kind of half traditional/half stadium, with another half devoted to the balcony (yup, three-halfs). I would actually say that the screen is bit TOO high (although it ensures unobstructed views for everyone).
I think that in our passion and appreciation for these theaters, we sometimes forget that the films are supposed to be the reason we’re there in the first place. While I can appreciate and mourn the loss of what this theater might have once been, I have a deeper appreciation for what this theater currently represents. After the loss of The National, this hits home especially hard. This is a state of the art facility that has reminders of its history everywhere you look. It’s a wonderful place to see great films in a town that has more than its fair share. Go just about anywhere else in the country and see if you can find something as good as The Egyptian, even in its current form. I will certainly have no hesitation visiting this theater again and again (including next week during the double feature of Alien and Aliens).
I’m not sure which drive-in lenses were used, I just remember having the conversation with one of the union techs that serviced the Denver theaters (I worked with United Artists at the time). I also know that, while the new lenses improved the screen size compared to the micro-machine 35mm of the late 80s/early 90s, they were not without problems. There was quite a bit of image masked on all four sides with the image projected larger than it should be. I wouldn’t be surprised if the subtitles seen when the Chinese speak in The Dark Knight ride dangerously close to the bottom masking with the image framed higher than usual to accommodate. It was a problem they had when they ran Episodes I & II in 99 and 02.
I’m not here to disparage the Titanic Appreciation Fan Club. Something being a fluke has no bearing on its actual quality, but rather its expectations. Titanic opened @ #1 with $28 million, only $3 million ahead of the #2 movie and $5 million LESS than the #1 movie the weekend prior. Not exactly the tell-tale sign of a film that would ultimately gross $2 billion world-wide. But by maintaining an insane plateau (and even rising on some weekends) it did something that very few films do (and, yes, that includes Star Wars and E.T.)… it defied logic and was successful beyond what anyone expected. Thatâ€™s a fluke. If it wasnâ€™t, Fox never would have sold off domestic rights to Paramount. Would Titanic make $600 million domestic if it was released today? Itâ€™s doubtful and, again, that what constitutes a fluke. You donâ€™t see it coming, you canâ€™t explain it when itâ€™s happening, and you canâ€™t predict how itâ€™s going to turn out.
In fact, the only one of the major record breakers from the past 30 years (Star Wars, ET, Jurassic Park, Titanic) that I donâ€™t think could be considered a fluke would be Jurassic. There was a great deal of expectation with that film and it delivered financially.
But just because you love a film more than any other film and think it deserved all of the success it got doesnâ€™t mean that that success wasnâ€™t lightning in a bottle.
And FYI, there are people out there that laugh at Titanic just like you laugh at Star Wars, and to them, they now wonder why Titanic was so popular at the time. The IMDB user rating for Titanic is 7.2 out of 10. Guess what people rank equal to or higher than Titanic from that year? Every one of the 4 films it beat out for Best Picture- The Full Monty, As Good As It Gets, Good Will Hunting, and LA Confidential. For a little perspective, the new Rambo rates a 7.5. If the world was how you say it was, based on its box office, Titanic would rate a perfect 10.)
While I agree that it won’t beat Titanic (which was a fluke, like the original Star Wars), I think you guys will be surprised by just how well it’ll do overall. It did almost $25 million on a MONDAY (and not a holiday Monday, like the two higher grossing Monday titles). If it does $17 million on Tuesday, it’ll beat the fastest to $200 million record by three days, almost cutting the time in half. And that’s more than just because people are curious about Heath Ledger. Raul Julia’s death didn’t propel Street Fighter to any records (or even any decent box office). The bottom line is that Dark Knight is an amazing movie, it lives up to its hype, and what we’re seeing is the lightning in a bottle that happens when the stars align. Don’t be surprised if weekend #2 doesn’t quite hit your 60% drop. When checking the Arclight here in LA, at least half of their evening shows were sold out last night and the Cinerama Dome show that starts in 6 hours is already sold out. Those things don’t just happen and tells me that it’s going to be impossible to predict just how TDK is going to play out long-term (and definitely short-term).
Why are they calling it the â€œbest-ever 3-day non-holiday weekend?“ It’s the best 3-day opening… period.
I suppose you refer to my original theater description when you say that the Continental didn’t premiere the original Star Wars. That’s true, they didn’t. But I didn’t say premiere. I said played, which is true. In March of 1985, the Continental held a special charity 70mm triple-feature and again in May of 1990, the ran a week-long 70mm engagement of the original trilogy where they again gave the box office proceeds to charity (I know, I was there for the Tuesday show- It was the week before Total Recall opened). Jedi (as you know) is the only Star Wars film that premiered at the Continental (until the prequels, that is).
And for being part of the Commonwealth chain, it most certainly was from the late-1970s until the theater became United Artists. While I have no doubt that it was only part of the Continental trio at its birth, during the period of time that most people would remember this theater, it was with Commonwealth and then UA.
As for the remodel of the main house, I’m not really sure how that sits with me either. I really do love that theater. But as much as I love it, the main problem I remember having with that auditorium (and I haven’t been there in a few years- more of a Chinese, Dome, Aero, Village guy now), the auditorium is so large that any seat in the back third of the theater feels really far away from the screen. That’s a benefit of having such great row spacing, but I can remember coming back from the bathroom (happily still the original before the added theaters- hopefully they don’t change them) and walking into the auditorium and think how incredibly far away the screen was from the back of the theater. If they can help minimize that without forgoing the row spacing (don’t know that that’s physically possible) they might be able to improve it. But it’s probably better to leave well enough alone.
Dark Knight is going to the Dome. So from the list of movies I gave above, only Get Smart and Hellboy 2 are going to find themselves at the Chinese. What exactly is Mann doing?
You also have to take into account (which I haven’t seen you really do yet) that most films in the early 50s were still shot and exhibited in @ a 1.37:1 ratio. So while people keep drawing comparisons to theaters going from 1.85 to 2.35, the reality of the day was that theaters (all of them) had to be able to go from 1.37 to 2.35, which very well could have been accomplished by altering the top/bottom masking to something closer to 1.85 while opening the sides to achieve the 2.35. You also have to remember that the 50s and 60s were also a hodgepodge of ratios and formats as studios and theaters all worked to find things that worked well (as new theaters were built in the 60s and 70s -like The National and Cinerama Dome- they were built to accommodate the width of 1.85 to 2.35). Here are the 10 best cinematography Oscar noms for 1955 and their ratios:
On the Waterfront 1.85
The Country Girl 1.37
Executive Suite 1.66
Rogue Cop 1.75
Three Coins in a Fountain 2.55
The Egyptian 2.55
Rear Window 1.66
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 1.85 AND 2.55
The Silver Chalice 2.55
That’s 5 different ways to show 10 different films. I’m not saying you’re wrong about your experiences, but that perhaps there is more to be considered.
No, those titles are all listed for Hollywood. Hollywood and Sherman Oaks have their own coming soon pages. I agree that there could be a mistake and they have listed a title for both locations by accident (hence why I said “subject to change”), but as written, Arclight Hollywood is getting all of those titles. Now, someone earlier said the Chinese is getting The Happening (which is currently listed for Arclight Hollywood). If the Chinese gets that, there could be some hope that the coming soon list has more titles than it should.
According to Arclight’s sight (which is obviously subject to change), Arclight Hollywood is supposed to get:
The Dark Knight
Kung Fu Panda
The Love Guru
What exactly is the Chinese going to show this summer? Space Chimps? Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2? There literally isn’t a decent movie for them to show this summer until X-Files 2 at the end of July. I figured it was a no-brainer that they’d show Dark Knight, but it’s already listed as coming soon to Arclight Hollywood.
So, unless there is something I missed, Ironman in the Dome definitely appeared to be digital projection. I saw both the 8PM and the midnight on Thursday and I noticed nothing to indicate film. There were no changeover markers anywhere through the film nor were there any print defects or dirt visible.
BTW, the midnight Dome show was outstanding. During the Arclight’s usual intro to the film, Jon Favreau came running out to thank everyone for coming and apologizing to the audience (originally the midnight show was the first show until they later added an 8PM show, effectively screwing those who wanted to see it first and rushed to buy those midnight tickets). As atonement, he brought out Robert Downey, Jr to a standing ovation. RDJ thanked everyone as well, commenting that he could still remember when you could smoke pot in the Dome and not get in trouble for it. It was a great show and the midnight audience was waayy more pumped up for the show than they were at 8.
But it definitely seemed like digital projection.
I hope the film prints for Ironman and Indy hold true because I have seats for both (Row C for the 8PM and 12:01 Ironmans on Thursday and Row C for the 12:01 and 8:30PM Indys on opening day), but I’ve seen Mission Impossible 3, Blades of Glory, and (I think) Transformers digitally projected in the Dome, so I wonder if this is a new agreement. In fact the only film print I’ve seen recently was the single midnight Simpsons show that ran the Thursday night prior.
While I won’t debate or defend technical problems with the Dome, I will say I still enjoy the Dome because it’s one of the last big screens available in Los Angeles/Hollywood. Movie lovers in most towns would kill to have a screen like the Dome, but unfortunately have to settle with the latest Carmike/AMC googleplexes. Unfortunately for us though, Arclight treats it just like screen #1 of a 15 screen plex. I would love to see Arclight rotate some of their new releases a bit more. In a week such as this one with a ton of new openings, why not run Sweeney Todd in the Dome on Friday, National Treasure in there on Saturday, maybe run Charlie Wilson’s War in there on Sunday, and then run your Christmas Eve showing of Gremlins in there on Monday? I’m not saying you have to do it that way every week, but why not try some variety? National Treasure is going to be the number 1 movie this weekend, and there’s not a single large theater showing it in LA. The fact that they feel Sherman Oaks is adequate to show Close Encounters is embarrassing (ditto for Scarface, a film so successful when they DID run it in the Dome a few years ago, they actually had to hold it over).
Oh, and it appears tickets for Close Encounters have gone one sale…
At the Arclight Sherman Oaks!!!!
Hey Rizzo, does Arclight know that they actually own the Dome?
Well, it looks as if the Chinese is getting Cloverfield on the 18th, so I would think Rambo in the Dome is a good bet now (which actually makes 2001 in the Dome a less likely proposition since Rambo will be in its first week). I hope 2001 was pulled from sale so that they could establish a Dome showing (although, based on Rizzo’s new info, I wonder if they are waiting to evaluate the condition of the 70mm print before committing to the screen).
Rizzo, I’m sure your source was very clear, but the show (Jan 30th @ 8PM is now available for sale and it does NOT indicate a Dome showing. The showtime isn’t bolded and when you get to seating, it’s clearly one of the black box auditoriums. There’s also no indication at all that this will be in 70mm. The show page just has info on 2001’s AFI rankings.
However, I also bought tickets for Beowulf’s Pre-Opening Thursday Dome show about a month ago and a few days before the show, the listing suddenly became Black Box. When I called to ask about the November 15th 10PM Dome show, the first time I was told that it was still in the Dome. When I called back the next day (the day of the show) I was told that it was never for sale in the Dome. I’m fairly confident that I know the difference between the shape of the Dome and the shape of the black boxes (oh and the seats I had don’t exist in the boxes.
But the moral is, there’s no guarantee that 2001 will ultimately end up in the theater its booked for right now (for all we know, Arclight could move it to a smaller screen by Jan 30th). But I’m fairly confident, based on their track record, that 2001 will NOT be in the Dome. These AFI shows never are, especially if Arclight manages to snag either Cloverfield or Rambo.
Tickets are now on sale, but unfortunately it’s not showing in the Dome, but rather one of Arclight’s smaller theaters. Also no indication of a 70mm show. Arclight is continuing to become one big bust. They seem so preoccupied with their branding that they’ve forgotten why they bothered in the first place. It’s quickly becoming something quite different than “where movie-lovers belong.”