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Landmark Theatres to close Pico location in latest blow to L.A. cinephiles

A sign says "Landmark Theatres" and points down a hall
Landmark Theatres’ flagship Pico location, known for hosting Q&A screenings with top-tier filmmakers, will close when its lease expires at the end of May.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Specialty cinema chain Landmark Theatres is shutting down its flagship Westside location on Pico Boulevard after 15 years, in the latest major blow to Los Angeles cinephiles.

The L.A.-based exhibitor said Wednesday that the theater, frequented by movie lovers and known for hosting Q&A screenings with top-tier filmmakers, will close when its lease expires at the end of May. The announcement comes after the company failed to reach terms with its landlord, Landmark President Kevin Holloway said in a statement.

For the record:

8:29 a.m. May 12, 2022An earlier version of this post misspelled “Downton Abbey.”

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“For months, we’ve worked to extend our tenancy of The Landmark Pico but have been unable reach terms,” Holloway said. “We send our deepest appreciation to the Pico staff, guests, and the filmmaking community for their support over the years. We’re exploring opportunities to expand our Los Angeles footprint, which we hope to be able to share more on soon.”

Located in the Westside Pavilion, the Landmark Pico location, typically referred to simply as the Landmark, long served as a destination for Westside arthouse film buffs. If a new film played in one theater in L.A., chances were it played at the Landmark.

The historic movie theater has been closed since the start of the pandemic.

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L.A.'s film community has been hit hard with high-profile theater closures.

ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres announced in April 2021 that its locations, including the famed ArcLight Hollywood theater and attached Cinerama Dome, would not reopen. The announcement sparked an emotional outpouring from famous directors and a public campaign to have the Dome revived.

Although several former ArcLight and Pacific locations reopened under other operators, the Hollywood theater and the Dome remain dark. Rumors spread in late 2021 that the Dome and adjacent theater would reopen under a different name as soon as this year, but 2023 is more realistic, according to sources.

The Vista Theatre in Los Feliz has been shuttered since March 2020, and though it was acquired by “Pulp Fiction” director Quentin Tarantino, a reopening date has not been announced.

Landmark will continue to operate its remaining Los Angeles locations: the Nuart Theatre, which will soon undergo renovations, and the recently refurbished Landmark Westwood, the company said. Landmark Theatres has 35 locations with 195 screens in cities including San Diego, San Francisco, New York and Dallas.

The company is negotiating more leases, Landmark said.

Specialty cinemas like Landmark, which play a mix of Hollywood blockbusters and arthouse fare, have struggled to recover from pandemic closures. In Los Angeles, movie theaters were closed for a year, putting a strain on the financials for beleaguered multiplex operators.

Older patrons who make up the bulk of ticket buyers for character-driven indie films have been the slowest to return, even as Hollywood enjoys the spoils of blockbusters including “The Batman” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

A24’s quirky multiverse action-comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has given a lift to specialty cinemas, grossing more than $40 million in domestic box office sales. Focus Features’ “Downton Abbey” sequel also may draw older crowds who have not yet trekked back to auditoriums.

But smaller cinema chains have struggled to survive in part because of competition. In Los Angeles, even the largest multinational chains like AMC Theatres and Regal play the kinds of smaller films that are typically the bread and butter of Landmark and fellow Los Angeles theater chain Laemmle.

Landmark Theatres was acquired in 2018 by Cohen Media Group, the film production and distribution company of New York real estate billionaire Charles S. Cohen.

The chain was previously owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and his longtime business partner, Todd Wagner. They acquired the chain in 2003 from Los Angeles-based asset manager Oaktree Capital, which had taken the exhibitor out of bankruptcy.


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