Anaheim : Dearth of Theaters Is Likely to Persist

There are a lot of recreational activities in the Anaheim flatlands.

In the flatlands, between Knott Avenue to the west and the Orange Freeway to the east, where 200,000 people live, you'll find Disneyland, ice-skating rinks, bowling alleys, batting cages, restaurants, nightclubs, you name it.

But if it's a first-run movie you want to see, look elsewhere.

Covering some 43 square miles, Anaheim has only two first-run movie theaters, and they are located at the far east end of town, in Anaheim Hills. The flatlands have just two "second-run" theaters showing films that have already been out for months--movies that are usually weeks away from the local video store.

"I don't think we'll ever get a (first-run) movie theater" in the flatlands, said redevelopment director Elisa Stipkovich. Her department has tried for months to interest major theater chains in moving into the new Koll Anaheim Center downtown or into the soon-to-be-revamped Anaheim Plaza. Getting a theater would be a boon to those shopping areas, drawing potential customers to the stores.

But because the biggest chains already have first-run theaters in the neighboring cities of Orange, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Garden Grove and Fullerton, they don't want to move into downtown or west Anaheim, Stipkovich said.

"A chain doesn't want to open a theater when it already has one five or six miles away," she said. "It doesn't want to compete against itself."

Also getting in the way are the contracts theaters sign when they agree to show a blockbuster movie. The contracts usually state that the theater will be the only one allowed to show the movie within a certain radius, usually between two and 10 miles. Theaters in other cities are within that radius for much of the Anaheim flatlands.

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