Los Angeles has lost a lot of movie screens in the last year or so. We also have gained several really impressive theaters in recent years. But as someone who has always loved going out to movies and who grew up working in theaters, it always saddens me to see one close. Last month, Laemmle bid a nostalgic adieu to the Sunset 5 after almost 20 years as a stalwart of indie and art house favorites plus midnight guilty pleasures as well as local festival fare. “We had a nice run,” said Laemmle president Greg Laemmle, but the exhibitor was unable to reach a new lease agreement. (See Progress video at end of post) Not far away, Regency Theatres, which took over the Village and Bruin in Westwood, closed the Fairfax 3. Previous endeavors to sustain the Fairfax included those of Laemmle and Cineplex Odeon. Westwood saw the shuttering of the Avco Center 4 and the Majestic Crest. The Beverly Center 13-plex had its last gasp in 2010. The newer, larger and plusher Grove, Landmark and AMC’s newer Century City venue have more or less taken their place. In addition, Arclight in Hollywood lures moviegoers from points west, east, south and north. The Arclight concept has spread.
In the meantime Laemmle has built a new seven-plex in North Hollywood, long an underserved neighborhood. “We are the first new theater in the vicinity for many years,” Laemmle said. The NoHo 7 is almost ready for its closeup tomorrow at 5240 Lankershim Blvd (in front of the TV Academy). The NoHo 7 is all-digital projection and all 5.1 stereo sound – but no 3D. The complex has almost 1100 seats. Laemmle said construction, equipment and fixtures cost roughly $7.5 million. Situated in the heart of the NoHo Arts District, the free-standing theater is near eateries, comedy and music clubs plus Equity-waiver stages. “Lots of people live within walking distance, Laemmle pointed out. “We are also just a short walk from the North Hollywood Metro station.” Parking will be convenient in the adjacent structure to the northeast. With validation it will be cheaper than the limited street parking. Who knows, maybe North Hollywood will launch its own film festival or become a satellite of an existing one. The Sunset 5 also may thrive again in the embrace of the site’s new leaseholder Sundance Cinemas. As a line from a movie that probably wouldn’t get made in today’s altered studio landscape put it, “If you build it, they will come.” I hope it’s true.