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Good Grove/Bad Grove: BevCon Edition

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This week's installment of Good Grove/Bad Grove was going to focus on the impact the Grove shopping complex at Fairfax and Third has had on other local businesses, and as it turns out, our timing couldn't be more apt. As anyone who attempted to see the exclusive L.A. engagement of She Hate Me this week (anyone?) discovered this past Sunday, the struggling AMC Beverly Connection cinemas breathed their last breath and, without any warning, closed their doors.

Okay, so it's not like they bulldozed Mann's Chinese or anything, but a theater doesn't have to be historic for its demise to symbolize something sad. As corporate mall-based multiplex franchises go, the BevCon 6 was always a welcome respite from the crowds of Century City or the toenail-sized theaters at the Beverly Center. Before we got spoiled on stadium seating and Disney-fied outdoor plazas, the BevCon was the place to see new releases. But since the Grove opened in March 2002, the significance and prestige of the Connection's movie theater has plummeted rapidly. No longer boasting the nicest theaters in the Beverly Hills/WeHo area, they found themselves unable to compete for first-run engagements, and their marquee began to look more and more like a hotel pay-per-view schedule. (Spike Lee fans weren't the only people disappointed this week; so was anyone who waited two months to see White Chicks.)

And now, like the enormous, showpiece retail space where Bookstar once stood, the AMC Beverly Connection cinemas will stand vacant, and the BevCon itself will be even more of a ghost town. But don't laugh too hard, Grove. The BevCon was the Grove of its day, and its day was not long ago. Before you know it, maybe a mere twenty years from now, while you're still paying off your mortgage on the trolley line, there will be an even cooler shopping mecca in town. It'll hover in space one mile over the city, somewhere around Crescent Heights and Melrose. We'll park our floating cars in their fifty-story garage and see Spider-Man 12 in their eighty-screen multiplex. And somewhere, in that new mall's Banana Republic, a little boy will be heard to say, "Daddy, what's the Grove?"

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At that moment, maybe you'll understand why we're sad to watch the Beverly Connection dying before our eyes. On some level, one mall devouring another may be poetic justice, but it's also one more representation of the Bad Grove.

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