Movie Theater Bites the Dust
BlogDowntown's Ed Fuentes confirms that the Laemmle Grande 4-Plex will close October 25, mostly due to the expected competition from a new Regal Cinemas Stadium 14 located near Staples Center. The Laemmle Grande was a diamond in the rough for local filmgoers because its bills, while favoring multiplex action-fare, would also screen more marginal and independent films, in addition to off-schedule screenings of art films or candidates in lesser Academy Award categories. This made the sparsely attended Laemmle Grande, with its stained screens and aroma of Lysol, an ideal place for locals and near-locals to see opening-week blockbusters or little movies if they wanted to avoid crowds at the Vista -- or didn't want to schlep up to Pasadena's Laemmle Playhouse 7.
The Laemmle Grande has always had a weird vibe to it. For one thing, it's sunken below street level -- and that street is Figueroa, where all the cold, glassy hotels are. If you couldn't get one of the very few available street parking spaces, you had to park across Fig and then risk your life running across six lanes of traffic. The theater was (or rather, still is) virtually invisible -- a perception fortified when it closed its outdoor ticket window and moved operations inside the lobby. If I'm not mistaken, the Community Redevelopment Agency imposed a requirement on the Laemmle Grande's first landlord, the next-door Sheraton Grande Hotel, to keep the theater or some other cultural entity operating onsite; however, I'm not sure the theater's present neighbor, the Marriott Hotel, is also bound to that stipulation.