The Fox Venice Theater, which in recent years has become an important venue for first-run foreign films in Los Angeles, officially closed last week--months after the last movie was shown.
"We tried until the very last, but sometimes you have no control over these things," said film maker Rafigh Pooya, whose lease on the theater at 620 Lincoln Blvd. expired.
The theater was closed last June after health inspectors found that samples of the soundproofing material on the walls and ceiling contained large quantities of amacite, one of the more hazardous forms of asbestos.
Pooya, who had revived the theater as a showcase for high-quality art films from Europe and the Third World seldom distributed in the United States, had accused the building's owners of "dragging their feet" in making repairs.
Albinas Markevicius, a Santa Monica real estate developer who is among the building's several owners, said that a cleanup of the asbestos, which began last month, should be completed in another two weeks.
"We intend to try to lease the building soon," he said. "We have no preference as to whether it remains a theater, as long as (the building's use) is in compliance with zoning laws."