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With ArcLight Cinemas closing, Hollywood rallies behind ‘such a special place’

Exterior of an ArcLight theater
ArcLight and Pacific movie theaters will not reopen.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood heavyweights are rallying to save ArcLight Cinemas after the owner of the beloved theater chain announced that its doors would not reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic took an extreme financial toll on the moviegoing industry.

The jointly owned ArcLight and Pacific theaters will both remain closed after shutting down due to the public health emergency, Pacific Theatres said Monday in a statement. It said, “Despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options, the company does not have a viable way forward.”

Mindy Kaling, Rian Johnson, Lulu Wang, Barry Jenkins, Jon M. Chu and James Gunn were among the entertainment luminaries who took to social media to mourn the loss of the ArcLight, known for hosting movie premieres and in-depth panel discussions with filmmakers.

The permanent closure comes after a year of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Well this sucks,” tweeted Johnson, director of blockbusters “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Knives Out.” “Every single person who worked at the Arclight loved movies, and you felt it. Sending love to every usher, manager and projectionist who rocked that blue shirt and made it such a special place.”

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“I am cynical,” wrote producer, writer and actress Kaling. “I feel like the arclight’s not really gone and some corporation has already bought it and this is part of a strategy to cause mourning and then they swoop in and save it and we love them and forget they’re a corporation. I mean, that’s how I would do it and I’m evil.”

The “Never Have I Ever” mastermind also reminisced about date nights at ArcLight screenings of movies helmed by Oscar-nominated writer and director Greta Gerwig.

“We’ve all been on bad dates to the Arclight where you’re watching a Greta Gerwig movie & the guy doesn’t like it bc he knows Greta is more talented than him and also would never date him and you had the realization you can’t date this kind of guy anymore,” Kaling joked. “SAVE THE ARCLIGHT.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” filmmaker Gunn said he would “miss talking to the employees about their favorite films, which they had listed on their name tags.”

Upon hearing the news, “The Farewell” director Wang remembered her “first time meeting Quentin Tarantino in the lobby of the Hollywood Arclight,” while “Crazy Rich Asians” filmmaker Chu fondly recalled debuting his first feature at the same location, home to the famous Cinerama Dome theater.

“Devastating,” Wang wrote. “Too many losses to process. It’s too much.”

Whatever fortitude saw me through the pandemic dissolved the moment I heard the ArcLight was closing. The ArcLight Pasadena was my theater.

“What sad news,” echoed Chu. “I loved this theater. And I had my first premiere for my first movie #StepUp2TheStreets there. I snuck out of the movie early so I could cut a piece of the red carpet out and keep it. It sits on my desk. man this is hard to read.”

“Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el tweeted, “Arclight forever. Spent a whole decade seeing films in this temple of cinema and was so ... lucky to have our film there right before Covid.”

Here’s a sampling of reactions from heartbroken ArcLight lovers — minus “Moonlight” director Jenkins, who may have summed up the dejected sentiment best when he responded with a simple, “F—.”


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