It’s difficult to make a news story of a movie theater opening on the Westside, but the long-awaited Landmark Theatre opening at Santa Monica-based Macerich Company’s Westside Pavilion at Westwood and Pico boulevards may be an exception.
The 12-screen film center opened Friday, June 1, with an array of upscale amenities including a wine bar, over 3,000 free parking spaces and a concession stand which features, according to the pre-opening press release, “gourmet, health conscious and specialty snacks, including not only freshly-popped popcorn with real butter, but also unique items such as Pizza Rustica pizza made fresh on location, Yogurberry frozen yogurt with fresh fruit toppings and La Brea Bakery hot pretzels with gourmet mustards.”
The theater auditoriums – “outfitted with state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment, including Sony SXRD systems, Klipsch speakers and Dolby processors” – seat from 50 to 300 moviegoers. Three of the rooms are furnished with sofas rather than stadium-style seating to create the comfortable ambience of a living room (or a screening room). Even the “stadium” seats feature leather-like upholstery. (The pre-opening press release said “leather seats,” but Landmark personnel at last week’s press preview – perhaps in reaction to seeing “Santa Monica” on this reporter’s press pass – were quick to point out that the seats were synthetic leather.)
As to what will be showing on the screens, Landmark Chief Operating Officer Ted Mundorff said, “We will stay true to our indie roots but will also offer our customers the opportunity to see other films as well. Our commitment is to provide the widest variety of great film in a sophisticated environment geared toward the adult movie-goer.”
Macerich Company purchased the Westside Pavilion mall in 1998. According to Ken Gillett, Senior Vice President, Property Management, the building on the west side of Westwood Boulevard (which housed Barnes & Noble bookstore and other tenants) “never worked,” and Macerich’s interest was in the long-term development of that site rather than filling the existing structure with tenants. So the company closed that building 18 months ago in January 2006 and began the major renovation that has enclosed the former open courtyard; the task also involved reinforcing the foundation to support the new construction.
Barnes & Noble will reopen in late June, and a new restaurant, the Westside Tavern, is scheduled to open in early 2008 and serve classic American cuisine in what Gillett promises to be “extraordinary ambience.” Other tenants will occupy the renovated structure as well.
The four-screen Westside Pavilion Cinemas at the east end of the mall (formerly the Samuel Goldwyn Cinemas), which were also operated by Landmark and were very “true to [its] indie roots,” have closed, and that space is now being rebuilt.
Landmark Theatres, in business for over 30 years, has 59 theaters in 23 markets, including historic theaters, such as the Tivoli in St. Louis, the Inwood in Dallas and the Oriental in Milwaukee, and newer theaters, such as Bethesda Row in Washington DC and the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis. Landmark now calls the new theater complex at the Westside Pavilion its “flagship theatre,” says Mundorff, because of its size – the 12 screens make it the biggest in Landmark’s circuit – “and the many amenities we are offering moviegoers.”