The COVID-19 pandemic has been bad for everyone (except politicians who conveniently moved some money around in the early days for no reason and assholes who were already very rich going in), but movie theaters in particular were put in the brutally difficult position of relying on movie studios to put out movies and relying on moviegoers to go to movies during a time when neither thing was happening. The AMC theater chain was basically on the verge of death for the whole second half of 2020 until a surprise bit of financial finagling in January dug up enough equity for AMC to stay above water until “deep into 2021,” but unfortunately the same kind of life preserver wasn’t able to reach beloved theater chains Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres.
As reported by Deadline, parent company Decurion has announced that none of the Arclight and Pacific locations around the country will be reopening, with the company putting out a statement that says, in part, that it “does not have a viable way forward.” The statement also makes a point to say that Decurion is grateful to the Arclight and Pacific employees “who have devoted their professional lives to making our theaters the very best places in the world to see movies,” with Deadline noting that employees of the chain were given notice about the announcement already (seemingly indicating that there’s little to no hope of there being some kind of last-minute plan to keep some of the locations open).
That being said, there are surely some last-minute plans being floated. Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, for example, is trying to organize some kind of attempt to buy Arclight Cinemas on Twitter, which could theoretically work if he rallies together enough of the famous heartbroken movie fans eulogizing the chain on Twitter. Of course, some of these theaters—like Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome, which Deadline notes is typically one of the highest-grossing locations in the country—are prime real estate and there are probably going to be some interested parties who aren’t just rich movie fans. On a related note, this might be a good time to learn about an old antitrust rule called the Paramount Decree, which (among other things) banned movie studios from owning theaters and squeezing out the competition with exclusivity deals. A few years ago, the ruling was reversed by the previous presidential administration.
As for Arclight and Pacific, Deadline says as recently as last week the chains were getting ready to reopen on Memorial Day (when Los Angeles theaters are expected to be cleared for 100% capacity) with A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella, so this all seems like a fairly recent downturn for the chains.