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AMC eyes ArcLight theater locations. What about the Cinerama Dome?

The Cinerama Dome lit up at night.
AMC says it’s in discussion with landlords of the former ArcLight Cinemas locations.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

AMC Entertainment, owner of the world’s largest theater chain, is eyeing cinema locations previously operated by ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres.

In a Tuesday filing, AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron said the company is “in discussions” with “multiple landlords” of locations previously operated by the popular Los Angeles-based circuits.

The Leawood, Kan.-based company on Tuesday said it reached an agreement to raise $230.5 million in cash by selling equity to investment firm Mudrick Capital Management, exchanging 8.5 million shares at a price of approximately $27.12 per share.

AMC said it would use the cash to acquire additional theater leases and improve existing locations. The deal differs from AMC’s multiple previous capital-raising efforts during the pandemic, which were intended to keep the company out of bankruptcy court as theaters suffered from closures, restrictions and a lack of new Hollywood movies.

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As the box office starts to improve with hits including “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” AMC is exiting the crisis with a mountain of debt exceeding $5 billion. Still, the company appears to be looking for opportunities to expand in key areas as the industry recovers.

“Given our scale, experience and commitment to innovation and excellence, AMC is being presented with highly attractive theater acquisition opportunities,” Aron said in the statement. “With our increased liquidity, an increasingly vaccinated population and the imminent release of blockbuster new movie titles, it is time for AMC to go on the offense again.”

ArcLight and Pacific’s parent company, Los Angeles real estate company Decurion Corp., said in April that it would not reopen its locations, making the respected chain one of the highest-profile movie business casualties of COVID-19’s impact on the economy. The closures sent the film industry into mourning, with filmmakers including Rian Johnson, Edgar Wright, Barry Jenkins and Lulu Wang joining an outpouring of grief, especially over the historic Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard.

Much speculation has swirled around the fate of the Cinerama Dome, a famous location beloved by cinephiles that appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.” In the wake of the closure, Twitter users hoped aloud that a company like Netflix, which owns the landmark Egyptian Theatre, would step in to revive it. Netflix has declined to comment.

Crucially, AMC’s announcement did not specifically mention the Cinerama Dome location, which is owned by Decurion. Other theaters in the ArcLight circuit, such as the Santa Monica and Culver City locations, were leased from landlords, who have been squeezed during the pandemic.

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

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Aron declined to comment beyond his Tuesday statement.

Pacific Theatres founder William R. Forman built the treasured dome in 1963. Many film industry insiders expect Decurion to retain control of the Cinerama Dome and potentially bring in another company to operate it.

Running former Arclight and Pacific locations could further beef up AMC’s already robust presence in Southern California and Los Angeles, where AMC’s flagship locations include multiplexes in Burbank and Century City. Los Angeles, home of the film industry, is among the biggest box office markets.

ArcLight, launched in 2002, had 11 locations, including six in the Los Angeles area. Pacific had six locations, all in California, including theaters in Glendale at the Americana at Brand and at the Grove shopping complex.


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