It could be curtains for Arclight and Pacific, the theaters I’ve only dreamed of


The owner of famous cinema chains Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters has revealed that the theaters will never open again after their COVID closings, according to VarietyDecurian, the company that manages both chains, gave a gruesome statement Deadline: it contains sentences such as ‘all possible options have been exhausted’ and ‘has no viable way forward’.

I don’t live in California, and I’ve never seen a movie in an Arclight or Pacific, but their shuttering hurts me deeply: I’ve always hoped to see a movie in an Arclight and experience Pacific’s Cinerama Dome, and it seems I might never get the chance. (Those aren’t my only movie dreams in need: dinner and a show chain I was hoping to visit, Alamo Drafthouse, recently filed for bankruptcy

I’m aware that most people probably don’t dream of traveling to other states just to see a movie, but these chains have long been considered the gold standard in the online movie community. I have long heard about Arclight Cinemas’ premium picture and sound, and many of them were in the heart of Hollywood. Tinseltown is feeling the loss too, with many actors and filmmakers tweeting in desperation (or hoping someone else will buy the theaters and put them back up and running).

There is also the matter of the Cinerama Dome. The famous Hollywood theater is named after a famous 70mm movie format (one of many that came about as theaters tried to entice viewers with an ever-expanding spectacle). As any movie geek will tell you.70mm is just about the ultimate movie exhibition, whether you’re watching 2001: A Space Odyssey The Hateful Eight, or It’s a crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy world

The latter is a movie my dad introduced me to, and I would have loved to see it in its original format – getting my eyes on original movie prints has been kind of an obsession since I started Disney’s The Aristocats back in college, but now the list of American theaters that can even play Cinerama movies is disappearing small.

What will happen to these theaters remains unknown. The buildings won’t immediately crumble just because the business that owns them closes down, but without someone to take care of them, they may not last long. This would be an added tragedy in the case of the Cinerama Dome – Silicon Valley scrapped the rest of its dome-shaped theaters, partially justifying it with the fact that Cinerama would still be there to keep the tradition alive. While the Cinerama Dome and Silicon Valley’s Century 21 Dome are both historic landmarks, that doesn’t always mean that their purpose should be preserved: last we checked, the Silicon Valley dome was slated to become an “innovation hub” within a new tech office campus.

Speaking of tragedies, it’s worth putting things in perspective: while I may not experience these theaters, according to DeadlineIf I had one wish (which was hypothetically strictly limited to this particular situation), it would be that those people could find good jobs with the other theater chains that are reopening. But if I had two, I’d love to make sure these theaters survive in some way so I could visit them one day.