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Arts and Entertainment

Building the ArcLight-Killer: Part the Second

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Could it be? Did someone finally out ArcLight the ArcLight?

If one of The Standard hotels built a theater, it would look like the new Landmark. The most accurate way of describing it is “boutique”. The Landmark is all about the visual angles; sloping fixtures light the theaters and give a completely different feeling of space than you would expect for a “mall theater”. Angled walls line the hallways, and an angled ceiling compliments the wine bar. Subtle touches like the blue floor-lighting and illuminated theater thresholds give the place a high-end feel. Clean lines and empty space give the floor plan an open feeling. The over-all experience will have me giving them my ticket dollars.

You can tell this place is built to compete with the ArcLight. It has the same luxury appeal and roster of indie films. Landmark Theatres Chief Operating Officer Ted Mundorf is optimistic:

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We have every expectation that the Landmark will succeed in its own right. It's not about "competing" against the ArcLight. Convenience is the real issue -- getting across town is sometimes impossible so having a superior theatre serving the entire west side of LA is going to be extremely well received by a lot of moviegoers.

I caught a film at the new Landmark on Tuesday night and the theater lives up to the hype. A lengthy review of damn near every inch of the new Landmark after the jump…

The Lobby

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Vast and well lit (maybe too well, I found myself squinting a bit), the Landmark greets you with a barrage of flat-screens displaying the movies playing. A stylish reed-lined desk houses the ticketing counter. And If there’s a huge line you can grab your tickets at one of the several electronic kiosks doled out around the lobby and skyway. From the second you step in you feel like you’re in a more adult space, this isn't for bratty little kids. Unlike other theaters, this was built almost solely with grown-ups in mind. The lobby isn’t cluttered with posters and cardboard cutouts, it's sparse and clean. The only thing blocking your path to the theaters is the concession counter. Lets talk about that for a second….

Concessions

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Drool…really, they have EVERYTHING. I don’t know if I have the energy or the space to list it here, so I’ll hit the highlights. Dark chocolate M&M’s, Haribo Gummi Bears (from Germany), soy snacks, POM tea, Peet’s coffee…everything.

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Seriously, you could spend an hour documenting the plethora of edibles that seems to stretch for a solid 100 meters. The employees are still getting used to the ordering system, it might take a few seconds to confirm your order, but they’re all in high spirits and eager to help.

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Wine Bar

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Just before you reach the hallway to the screens, a glass-lined room sits to your left. It takes your mind a second to process: “What is this? There’s a long wood table. There are couches, there’s a giant flat screen…oh crap! Its definitely a bar!” and there was much rejoicing. Beautiful design and lush couches make the Landmark wine bar an upscale yet comfortable place to kill time before a screening.

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To be honest, you might want to show up 45 minutes early just to watch the Dodger game on the massive flat-screen while enjoying a drink. The gentle lighting is sure to compliment anyone’s features, a key factor in picking a place to grab a drink with a date. An impressive list of California and Oregon wines will make a connoisseur feel at home, but the relatively reasonable prices (for the quality) will convince the casual drinker to try something new. Wine Manager Nino Chaddah is eager to help you select something to match your taste. His demeanor is informed without being pedantic and the man loves his wine. In a city where good customer service can be hard to come by, he represents a bit of the old school. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s happy with the wine list as it is now, but he’s looking to bring in some of the California cult wines to beef up the top end. One brand he’ll be showcasing in a few months, Screaming Eagle, is known for being one of the best, and most expensive (a 2003 Cab-Sav goes for $1600 online) California has to offer. For a movie theater bar, these people are serious about quality.

My one complaint about the otherwise excellent wine bar is the beer. Though the list is decent, it’s a little pricey. Six bucks for a Coors Light? First of all, that shouldn’t even be on the menu. Secondly, six bucks, really?

Main Screen – It’s big. Not earth-shatteringly large, but the right size to catch a film with an enthused audience. I got to sneak in for about 2 minutes during Mr. Brooks to check it out. The screen and image quality are top of the line and the sound was everything you’d expect. But where this theater is REALLY going to make a name for itself is in the seating. Wow. The leather seats recline slightly, just to the point of comfort, not so far you feel like you’ll tip over. It’s like riding in a BMW. Enough support to stay awake, but soft enough to be comfortable. And right now it has that amazing “new car leather” smell.

Living Room Theater

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I’ve never been to Quentin Tarantino’s screening room, but this is how I envision it must be. Massive leather couches and coach chairs slope towards the back of the theater, facing the screen. I have never been more comfortable while seeing a film. Instead of armrest cup-holders they have small end tables next to each seat, a great place to put your drink and popcorn. If you’re seeing a film alone, try for the living room theater and snag yourself one of the coach chairs, it’s a feeling I hadn’t experienced before. You have to try it at least once (and with two-person love-seats and Paris Je T’aime screening now, the living room theater + the wine bar might just be the most sure-fire way to get laid ever).

Film Selection – With a sked that screams “Indie” and goes light on the studio blockbusters, the Landmark is obviously marketing to an audience that loves their art house. On opening weekend, the only big studio movie out was Mr. Brooks. After speaking with some employees I came to learn that they don’t look at it as being indie-exclusive so much as giving their demographic what they want. It sounds like they’ll show the occasional studio picture, but only if it fits their audience’s taste.

Customer Service - It’s nice to be looked at as a valued customer and not a nuisance for a change. You can tell that the managers at this place were big on hiring people who like film. The employees seem genuinely enthused to be there. They’re happy to help with any questions and quick to correct any wrongdoing. They do run the standard spiel at the beginning of a screening (like the ArcLight) which is nice because I can’t stand seeing those “turn off your cell phone” previews anymore. Seriously, they make me angry. Another upside, no commercials, just previews for upcoming indie films.

On the whole, the Landmark is going to be a destination theater for anyone living on the Westside. It still has some kinks to work out (mounting flatscreens, rewiring the lobby, etc) but for the most part its good-to-go. Be sure to check it out the next time you're looking for a good film in a fun setting.

Westside Pavilion at Westwood and Pico Boulevards
(310) 281-8233