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Former ArcLight at Sherman Oaks Galleria taken over by Regal Cinemas

A view of the Sherman Oaks Galleria along Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley.
A 2011 view of the Sherman Oaks Galleria along Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The long-dark ArcLight Cinemas in the storied Sherman Oaks Galleria will be brought back to life as an upscale Regal Cinemas complex as theater owners gear up to serve movie fans returning from pandemic exile.

It is the first ArcLight branch to be rebranded since the popular cinema chain operated by Pacific Theatres announced in April that it was going out of business and would not reopen its theaters after closing them more than a year ago to meet COVID-19 restrictions on indoor businesses.

After a long road out of their COVID-19 funk, theaters are offering deals and special screenings of “Summer of Soul” and “Black Widow” to bring people back to the movies.

Regal Cinemas signed a lease Friday with mall landlord Douglas Emmett Inc. to take over the vacant theaters in the Galleria and reopen them soon, real estate brokerage JLL said. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

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Regal was one of a dozen theater operators competing to get into the Galleria, JLL property broker Shauna Mattis said, a show of investor support for the cinema industry that took heavy losses during the pandemic when customers were trapped at home.

Many of the would-be operators of the former ArcLight were from out of state, she said, and seeking to get their chains into Southern California.

“There is a lot of opportunity out there right now because of the pandemic and foreclosures across the board,” said Mattis, who represents the landlord. “Some retailers are taking advantage of it to get into really neat properties like the Sherman Oaks Galleria.”

The Regal theaters in Sherman Oaks will undergo a renovation of roughly $10 million, similar to the refurbishment of the Regal Irvine Spectrum, which reopened this year.

The deal will expand Regal’s presence in the Los Angeles area, where it also operates Regal LA Live in downtown L.A.

Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of Regal’s British parent company Cineworld, said the Galleria will continue to have 16 screens and will stay open during the renovation, with no more than three or four auditoriums closed at once.

The renovated theater will include premium large-screen and specialty experiences, including an Imax auditorium. The cinema will also have 4DX, a format of auditorium with seats that shake and move to mimic the onscreen action; and ScreenX, an immersive three-screen experience.

The new Regal will also offer a VIP lounge area with a full bar. The complex will open “very soon now,” Greidinger said, without giving a specific time frame.

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“We are fully committed to making it one of the top cinemas in the United States,” he said. “Anyone who’s been to any of our newly refurbished cinemas is aware that Regal’s main strategy is to give a great experience to our customers. I believe this is the way to bring them out of home.”

Even if the Cinerama Dome is bought, ArcLight may not be the last chain to fall to the pandemic.

The ArcLight in the Galleria opened in 2007 and was the second outpost of ArcLight, which had made a name for itself by refurbishing the historic Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and adding adjacent theaters and stores. The Cinerama complex, which is owned by ArcLight parent company Decurion Corp., remains closed.

The Arclight Theater in the Sherman Oaks Galleria
The former Arclight Cinemas complex in the Sherman Oaks Galleria shown during its first year of operation in 2007.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

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AMC Entertainment, owner of the world’s largest cinema chain, appears to be close to taking over key Los Angeles-area former Pacific Theatres locations at the Grove and Americana at Brand shopping centers owned by L.A. real estate developer Rick Caruso.

The Sherman Oaks Galleria was a national icon of 1980s teenage mall culture, immortalized in the Frank and Moon Zappa song “Valley Girl” and films such as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” It shut down in 1999 due to flagging sales.

Douglas Emmett, a Santa Monica real estate investment trust, redeveloped the once-vast mall in the early 2000s as a smaller open-air shopping and entertainment center with adjoining office space for rent.

“We look forward to welcoming Regal to The Galleria and continuing our tradition of bringing world-class lifestyle and entertainment destinations to the San Fernando Valley,” General Manager John Khamneipur said.


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