Thursday, August 31, 2006
Lighthouse Cinemas will show its final movie on Sept. 7. And then, after nearly two decades in Pacific Grove, the curtains at the old theater will close for good.
“Business has deteriorated to the point where it doesn’t make economic sense to keep it open,” says David Corwin, president of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, the Los Angeles-based company that operates Lighthouse.
Corwin says ticket sales at Lighthouse have dropped drastically since December 2004, when Century Cinemas opened a new, 13-screen theater at Monterey’s Del Monte Center.
The scenario isn’t unique to the Peninsula. Indeed, the same situation is playing out across the US: Huge, multi-screen complex opens, small, hometown theater shutters its doors.
“We tried hard to get film companies to play first-run movies at both theaters, but they were reluctant,” Corwin says. “So we were limited to ‘C’ titles, or ones that already played at Del Monte Center. “It’s certainly unfortunate. We know the theater has been a big part of the community for a long time. But when these big theaters go in, they dominate the market. We kept it going as long as we could.”
PG’s Community Development Director, Jon Biggs, says the property owner, the Enea family, has submitted a proposal to convert the upper level of the building into a few residential units with commercial space downstairs.
“We’re not sure at this point about the exact tenant, or form of the commercial space,” Biggs says. “We certainly hope it will be some kind of mixed use.” The proposal, still in the very early stages, has yet to be reviewed by the city’s planning department.