By Maureen Lee Lenker
April 12, 2021 at 09:45 PM EDT
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Moviegoing at the ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres has faded to black. Permanently.

Pacific Theatres, which operates more than 300 screens in California, including the upscale ArcLight brand, announced Monday that its locations will not be re-opening due to the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"After shutting our doors more than a year ago, today we must share the difficult and sad news that Pacific will not be reopening its ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres locations," the company said in a statement. "This was not the outcome anyone wanted, but despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options, the company does not have a viable way forward."

Cinerama Dome
Credit: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

The statement continued: "To all the Pacific and ArcLight employees who have devoted their professional lives to making our theaters the very best places in the world to see movies: we are grateful for your service and your dedication to our customers. To our guests and members of the film industry who have made going to the movies such a magical experience over the years: our deepest thanks. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve you."

The decision means that many movie houses in the heart of Hollywood and Los Angeles, most notably the iconic Cinerama Dome, will remain shuttered. ArcLight and Pacific theaters were often home to movie premieres, special events, and press screenings, leaving many to wonder what will fill the void.

The news comes just as things were starting to look up for movie theaters, as COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing and some public health measures are loosening. In California, theaters are looking toward a full reopening June 15.

But a recent Indiewire article presaged Pacific's economic woes, reporting a three-day eviction notice at the ArcLight's Culver City location. It said the location had not paid its March 2021 rent, amounting to an unpaid bill of approximately $181,900.

Many film fans hope that someone — be it a studio, a streamer, or a cinephile with deep pockets — will swoop in to save the theater spaces themselves, particularly the Cinerama Dome. The Dome, which has been featured in numerous films, including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1998.

Beyond California, Pacific operated theaters in Boston, Chicago and the D.C. area.

This marks a major blow for movie theaters just as recovery is on the horizon, but it's not the first such company to be hit hard by the pandemic. Alamo Drafthouse recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and AMC Theatres reported numerous financial losses before its stock skyrocketed after being targeted by individuals on Reddit.

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