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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas in the News   » Classic Westwood Village, Bruin Theaters on Verge of Extinction?

   
Author Topic: Classic Westwood Village, Bruin Theaters on Verge of Extinction?
Brad Erickson
Member

Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 04, 2009 03:04 PM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
From Movieline.com:

http://www.movieline.com/2009/08/classic-westwood-village-bruin-theaters-on-verge-of-extinction.php

Classic Westwood Village, Bruin Theaters on Verge of Extinction?
Written by S.T. VanAirsdale | 03 Aug 2009, 9:00 AM |

Disturbing news trickled out of Westwood over the weekend, when the LAT reported that Mann Theaters will not renew its leases on the Village and Bruin theaters in Westwood Village. That would leave both venues — each local landmarks dating back to the 1930s — dark headed into 2010, with somewhat ugly implications for studios, festivals and moviegoers who’d taken advantage of them over the years.

It would be one thing to shutter the Bruin, which is far better known for its Art Moderne-style Broxton Avenue facade than for its spectacular moviegoing experience. The Village, on the other hand, while cavernous, echo-y and beset with parking problems, is the destination theater for both studio premieres and galas hosted by the Los Angeles Film Festival, which already faces a dwindling screen count with the Mann Festival closing last week. The Majestic Crest down the street isn’t doing so well either, with its owner considering selling, then leasing the theater back for its art-house runs; the AMC Avco on Wilshire is a hellhole multiplex where business gets done economically and often forgettably for LAFF festgoers.

No one is going to go demolishing either endangered theater; the exteriors — including the Village’s iconic “Fox” tower — are protected landmarks, though the interiors could possibly undergo gut-renovations that subdivide them into friendly new bookstore/coffee house/chain restaurants for the UCLA crowd. For the Village, anyway, it’s likelier that the theater would remain in operation as a premiere/events venue, rentable by the night, even if it’s only 100 nights a year. And your outsider odds of seeing a film there again would drop precipitously. The Bruin could host smaller events like the Brad Pitt manhandling it hosted last year, but don’t count on it. Truly, we’re facing the end of an era.

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Jeff Arellano
Senior Member

Posts: 685
From: Monterey Park, CA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 04, 2009 08:19 PM      Profile for Jeff Arellano   Email Jeff Arellano         Edit/Delete Post 
Also, the Festival closed this past Thursday.

I can see AMC or Pacific taking over the Bruin and Village. those theatres will live on.

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Bill Gabel
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Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted August 05, 2009 06:52 AM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
In it's heyday the leases were over a million dollars. When Cineplex tookover the Odeon (aka: Festival), the lease was $250,000 a year.
Westwood is a total nightmare to building in. At one time Mann was going to use the total seat numbers from the closed Plaza, National and the Westwood Quad to build a plex. Pacific at one time was going to build a plex in the property near the former Plaza Theatre. As part of a chain they can make a better deal on how many weeks a film may play, but like the National after Mann. They got stuck with films that performed ok for part of the week and sat empty for the rest. If you turn the theatre into a Legit theatre, they will need the build a full stage. The theatre does not have a stagehouse.

These theatres need a Arclight type of plan. To build a plex behind the Bruin Theatre and use staff and bookings to keep the main houses (Village & Bruin) open.

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Chris Utley
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Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted August 05, 2009 08:05 AM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
Hopefully Decurion (Pacific/Arclight's parent company) is studying this and prepared to make a play for Village/Bruin as the centerpieces for a potential Arclight Westwood.

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Brad Erickson
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Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 05, 2009 09:46 AM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
The only good thing about this and could be a positive factor is that it would give a theatre chain an opportunity to really start from scratch, they would be in place for perhaps a Westwood resurgence. It would give movie theatres a clean-slate in the village. But it would take someone to have the foresight and patience to see ahead to the potiential and not what they would get immediately.

This is the time Westwood itself needs to step in and find ways the entice people into coming there again. They have to build a parking structure, perhaps in the Federal Bldg parking lot and have shuttles. I don't know, but that is still a major factor. Something could be done around the Bruin and a nice stadium style complex with IMAX could be a reality. Let's hope so. It really has not been a secret to the other chains that Mann is bailing.

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Bill Gabel
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Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted August 05, 2009 10:07 AM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
The homeowners would love to have it return to the 1970's era before all the mad house stuff from the 1980- mid 1990's. That's why all the building and parking problems happened, during the 1980's. The last time I was in Westwood it had lost that charm. That I grew up with from 1970's-1980's era. Many of the main retail stores are all gone.

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Brad Erickson
Member

Posts: 117
From: West Hollywood, CA
Registered: May 2006


 - posted August 05, 2009 10:19 AM      Profile for Brad Erickson   Email Brad Erickson         Edit/Delete Post 
I used to spend a Saturday afternoon in the Village. I'd park my car in a lot, see a film, walk around a bit and have lunch, then see another film. Now, I pretty much just time it to see a film and then leave.

There is potiential still for Westwood.

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Christopher Crouch
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From: Anaheim, CA
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted August 06, 2009 01:26 AM      Profile for Christopher Crouch   Email Christopher Crouch         Edit/Delete Post 
Not only is there a need for a major revitalization project, but there is also a desperate need for both the city and property owners to make concessions, until the area gets back on it's collective feet. Like far too many struggling commercial districts, local government officials and landlords continue to behave as if they are sitting on a thriving gold mine.

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