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Arts and Entertainment

The Cinerama Dome Takes Another Step Toward Comeback (RIP ArcLight)

A man stands wearing a mask in the foreground, across the street from the geodesic Cinerama Dome. A sign reads "PACIFIC'S CINERAMA THEATRE," with a smaller sign on the right reading "Arclight Cinemas." A sign on the left reads "go get 'em, tiger."
File: A person stands while taking photos of the famed Cinerama Dome at the shuttered ArcLight Hollywood movie theater on April 13, 2021 in Los Angeles.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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The ArcLight Hollywood was an L.A. landmark, drawing fans with its hip aesthetic, personal movie introductions, and film-fan-friendly screenings without all the advertising. But after the pandemic shut the chain down, owner Pacific Theatres declared bankruptcy.

Now there are new signs of life at the ArcLight’s former location. A liquor license obtained for a business going by the name “Cinerama” at that address suggests the historic Cinerama Dome could be a centerpiece of the new venture. The news was first reported by Variety.

The 12-month license was issued by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control on June 3, with an expiration of May 31, 2023. So while there’ve been no details released about when you’ll be able to go enjoy popcorn, a drink, and a movie inside a giant dome, it would seem likely that the new business will want to reopen sometime before next spring. The license gives its holders the option to operate an “on-sale general eating place” (aka a restaurant) and two bars, as well as catering and events.

Citing the application for the license, which Variety reported that it obtained, the new complex will be known as “Cinerama Hollywood.” That application also includes schematics showing that not only will the Dome itself be reopening, but also the 14 screens in what was formerly the ArcLight Hollywood.

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That reporting also indicates that the theater may be adding more food and drink options for within the theaters themselves, a la the Alamo Drafthouse chain.

We’ve reached out to the company and to Alcoholic Beverage Control but have not been able to independently confirm those additional details yet.

Several of the theaters previously owned by the company’s ArcLight and Pacific Theatres chains have been acquired and reopened by new owners, including L.A.-area locations operated by AMC and Regal Theatres.

The Cinerama will face numerous challenges if it manages to reopen as planned, with a changed movie business (as our reporter John Horn has detailed), increased competition (such as L.A.’s own Alamo Drafthouse theater), and other chains copying some of the features it previously championed, like reserved seating. Without the ArcLight for industry screenings in Hollywood, several studios have also set up their own nearby locations for private screenings. IndieWire has detailed many of the other challenges the revived theater could face.

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