Could the bargain matinee movie be going the way of the silent film?

At Mann Theatres it is. It used to be that before 6 p.m. most movies could be seen at a cut-rate price. Now the chain has whittled back its matinee prices to the first movie of the afternoon at several L.A. locations, including Mann's Westwood theaters and Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Mann's Culver City venues still have afternoon matinees.

While Mann executives weren't available for comment, others were willing to speculate about the reasoning behind the change. "This may be part of a self-protection mechanism for the theater, which is understandable in the current (economic) climate," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box office sales.

Mann Theatres came out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2000 after WF Cinema Holdings bought the chain for $91 million and later sold off half the chain's theaters.

While Mann may be reducing its matinee bargains, other theaters around town said they plan to stick with discounts.

"We have no plans to change anything," said Rick King, spokesman for AMC Entertainment Inc., based in Kansas City, Mo. "We have a matinee price good until 4 p.m. during the week, Monday through Friday and a twilight show from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m."

Same goes for Krikorian Premiere Theatres, a small chain of movie theaters in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

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