One of the nation’s largest movie theater chains is set to make its entrance into the City of Los Angeles by opening a theater in an area where it will have no competition: downtown San Pedro.
Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Cinemas Inc. which has seven locations with 90 screens in California, but none within L.A. city limits plans to open a 50,000-to-60,000-square-foot movie theater across from Papadakis Taverna, a landmark Greek restaurant.
The $6 million theater, which already has broken ground and is expected to open by next summer, will house 14 screens with 100 to 400 seats in each theater. Regal officials expect 700,000 customers a year and plan to employ between 200 to 250 full-time and part-time employees.
San Pedro has been without a movie theater since Warner Grand Theatre on West Sixth Street was converted to alternate uses (live theater, art classes, etc.) in 1989. The nearest movie theaters are in Rancho Palos Verdes, where Regal, the sixth-largest movie theater chain in the nation, operates Terrace Cinema Six Theatres Inc. Chainwide, Regal Cinemas operates 1,371 screens at 166 screens in 20 states primarily on the East Coast and in the South.
Because it has few entertainment venues, downtown San Pedro is little used in the evenings and on weekends, city officials say.
“There’s no foot traffic in the area, and what this cinema will do is hopefully create that,” said Rocky Delgadillo, assistant deputy mayor of economic development.
L.A.’s Business Team, a city business retention and attraction group that Delgadillo oversees, helped Regal lease land owned by the Community Redevelopment Agency for $250,000 a year, plus 4 percent of gross receipts for anything over $3 million in annual sales. The team also helped Regal secure parking for the theater and find other economic incentives.
Bob Cook, president of the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, has hopes that the new movie theater will help revitalize San Pedro.
“Obviously we think that this is nothing short of a spectacular development for the old town area of our community,” Cook said, adding that he hopes the theater’s presence will encourage existing business to keep their doors open longer and attract new businesses to the area.
“I’m certain that new investment will occur it will just dovetail right behind it,” he said. “It will certainly encourage development in the vacant storefronts. There are a number of restaurants in the area, and they will all benefit by it.”
Among the theater’s modern features will be steep-sloped, stadium-style seating, wall-to-wall screens, and a full range of advanced sound systems, such as Dolby Surround Sound, Dolby Digital and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound.
A continuous-loop lobby projection screen in the lobby will run movie previews and a computerized ticket station will allow the purchase of tickets for up to three days in advance.