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Beverly Center Cinemas 1982-2010

The closure of Beverly Center Cinemas June 3 wasn't mourned by many. When the Cineplex Odeon megaplex opened in 1982 it had more screens under one roof (14) than any other complex in the country.

It was an important cog in the LA movie scene with lots of premieres and record runs of major films. But it was a novelty of the time and the small screen sizes and other problems never made it a great moviegoing experience.

The photo here is a view of the exterior of the complex in 2007. Click on it to enlarge. But the real photo obituary for the theatres is on Cinema Tour. See the Beverly Center Cinemas page for 236 photos by Jeff Arellano and other contributors of everything from the restrooms to the projectors.

Its passing is, as Christopher Crouch noted in a June posting on his Cinelog, is representative of the decline of mall culture in general and the ever changing fortunes of the major players in Los Angeles film exhibition.

It outlasted better complexes like the nearby GCC Beverly Connnection and even survived the demise of its builder, Cineplex Odeon. But newer complexes such as the Grove and the ArcLight gave it fatal competition. AMC didn't want it. Mann tried it. Now it'll be retail space.

The interesting thing about Cineplex Odeon's entrance into the Los Angeles market (and this strategy was also deployed in other cities) is that they seemed in the 80s to be betting both on the past and the future simultaneously. In some areas they would just buy an existing circuit to enter and dominate a market. Frequently they overpaid and, like other circuits, discovered eventually that there wasn't enough revenue to service the mountain of debt.

In LA, without a major player to take over, the strategy was twofold. They built the multiplexes (Beverly Center, Universal City) that those with vision knew were the future of the business. But Cineplex also also went for the mom and pop operated older singles, twins and triples that would give them first run screens in interesting areas. Here we saw that with theatres like the Gordon/Showcase and the Fairfax. Sprucing up an older building and making it a first run was easy and quick compared to permitting and building a large project. And, even if many of these older theatres were still doomed economically, it gave them a few more years of life. It all worked for awhile.

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