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Macerich Taps ArcLight Cinemas for New Theaters in Santa Monica Place

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

January 15, 2014 -- ArcLight Cinemas will run the bayside city’s first new movie theater in more than 20 years, according to Santa Monica Place-owner Macerich.

Macerich announced Tuesday that it has partnered with the Los Angeles-based company, known for its luxury movie houses, to open a 14-screen state-of-the-art movie theater on the third floor of the shopping center by mid-2015.

Macerich and ArcLight, which operates four other theaters in the Los Angeles area, hope to capture an audience looking for a movie-going experience currently unavailable at Santa Monica’s two remaining movie theaters, neither of which have had significant upgrades in two decades.

“The ArcLight concept is a true match for the extraordinary level of experience we have created at Santa Monica Place, a world-class luxury fashion and dining destination right in the heart of downtown Santa Monica,” said Macerich CEO Art Coppola in an official statement Tuesday.

The new ArcLight theater hopes to offer a full bar and café, reserved stadium seating and “state-of-the-art” light and sound, all of which are lacking at the remaining two theaters on the Third Street Promenade.

Even though the theaters will occupy about 50,000 square feet of empty retail space on the Santa Monica Place’s third floor, Macerich and ArcLight will have to seek City Council approval because the height of the building has to be increased to accommodate the movie screens.

That means it could be months before construction could begin, even though the Council recently voted to let Macerich skip the “float-up” process, during which developers seek informal feedback from the Planning Commission before seeking official approval of their plans.

Without the float-up process, City officials estimate that the project could go before the Planning Commission in March and the City Council for final approval in April. (“City Council Expedites Santa Monica Place Theater Project,” December 19, 2013)

This will likely be welcome news to organizers of the American Film Market (AFM), the annual independent film tradeshow that brings thousands to the bayside city every fall.

AFM organizers agreed in 2011 to stay in Santa Monica, where the tradeshow has been held since 1991, through 2017 partly because of the promise of future, modern venues to screen films and host events. (“Santa Monica Working to Keep American Film Market in Town,” November 7, 2013”)

Since the agreement, however, the AMC 6 Criterion was shuttered, plans for an ultra-modern cinema complex in Downtown fell through and the City lost funding for a planned $55 million overhaul of its 3,000-seat Civic Auditorium.

Jonathan Wolf, managing director of the AFM, said that he was “very frustrated” with the situation since there are approximately 700 screenings during the trade show.

Santa Monica stakeholders agree that the bayside city, which draws thousands of people from all over the world to its downtown every weekend, needs a new movie theater.

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