ArcLight Cinemas to open new multiplex in Bethesda, Md.


ArcLight Cinemas, the Hollywood-based premium theater chain, is bringing its brand of luxury cinema to the East Coast.

The circuit plans to debut a new multiplex in Bethesda, Md., its first outside of California. Construction of its 16-screen theater will begin early next year with an expected opening in 2014, company executives said.

Bethesda’s new complex, which will be housed in the city’s newly renovated Westfield Montgomery shopping mall, is among several theaters that ArcLight plans to open in the next two to three years at undisclosed locations in the East and Midwest as part of a modest nationwide expansion.


“We’ve created a unique experience at ArcLight Cinemas and we want to share our love of film with movie lovers across the country,’’ said Chris Forman, CEO of ArcLight Cinemas. “Bethesda provides us with a great opportunity to build an ArcLight community on the East Coast and redefine the way people enjoy their movies.”

Despite its small number of theaters -- only four in Southern California -- the ArcLight has helped redefine the theater-going experience since its founding a decade ago by Pacific Theatres. The circuit charges a premium ticket price for its signature amenities such as reserved seating, commercial free movies, gourmet food and Q&As with filmmakers that are now emulated by other chains. ArcLight’s mix of programming includes everything from independent art house fare and cult classics to Hollywood blockbusters.

Each theater, including the one opening in Bethesda, has a designated auditorium for those 21 years and older adjacent to a lounge, which allows patrons to bring in beer, wine and cocktails from the bar to sip during special screenings.

Ticket prices are about 20% more than those of conventional theaters.

The original ArcLight Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street next to the iconic Cinerama Dome, ranks among the country’s highest-grossing theaters. Its success has helped power an expansion of the circuit, which now has three additional theaters in Sherman Oaks, Pasadena and El Segundo. A fifth theater in La Jolla will open later this year.

The company is projected to generate $70 million in revenue this year, up from $50 million in 2009, the company has said.

ArcLight is facing growing competition from rivals expanding in Southern California, including Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas, which is moving into West Hollywood, and Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, the Mexico City-based theater chain that is opening its first Los Angeles theater in Westlake Village this summer. Alamo Drafthouse, the Austin, Texas-based circuit, also has announced plans to expand into L.A.