City officials and developers may pursue an ArcLight Cinemas location for Santa Clarita, bringing the upscale movie theater chain to the region as arthouse cinema chain Laemmle Theatres sets up shop in downtown Newhall.
During a budget study session meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Laurene Weste said she wants to pursue multiple arts programs in the city, including the ArcLight, which she mentioned by name.
“We do not have an ArcLight theater here yet in this community where you can go have dinner and a movie married together,” she said. “There is that opportunity, hopefully, over on the Canyon Country side, which I think would be lovely.”
When asked after the meeting where she thought an ArcLight would be in Canyon Country, Weste said the Vista Canyon project being built on the south side of the Santa Clara River, near Sand Canyon Road, includes a movie theater as part of its overall plan.
Vista Canyon’s website said the area will be home to “shops, restaurants, a specialty grocer, personal services, hotel, movie theater and more.”
JSB Development President James Backer said the developer is still doing market research and the Vista Canyon site construction is currently focused on infrastructure items like roads, utilities and its water reclamation plant.
“We’ve talked with a lot of theaters,” he said. “We do think highly of ArcLight.”
The city has talked to various movie theater chains in the past and is exploring all options, but no deal is currently in place and an ArcLight theater would not be a city project, said city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan.
“The city would welcome the opportunity to bring more movie theaters to Santa Clarita,” she said. “We know it is something the community wants and currently we are underserved for our population, which is why we are so excited to have the Laemmle theater coming to Old Town Newhall.”
The Laemmle theater is adjacent to the Newhall Crossings project under construction at Lyons Avenue and Main Street in Old Town Newhall.
“I believe that given how much population growth there has been, the area is underscreened,” said Greg Laemmle, president of Laemmle Theatres. “I think the industry looks at it and says we need some theaters up there.”
Laemmle said he had heard about a competitor coming to the Santa Clarita Valley and welcomes it. He used Pasadena as an example, which has iPic, ArcLight and Laemmle cinemas on a one-mile stretch of Colorado Boulevard.
“We each cater to a different audience and even when we’re playing the same film, it just gives people a choice about what they want and where they want to see it,” he said.
Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp., said the organization wouldn’t comment on any deals until they are done, regarding a potential theater in the Vista Canyon development.
“I think there would be great interest in the SCV community for such an amenity,” she said.
Calls to The Decurion Corporation, the Los Angeles-based parent company of ArcLight Cinemas, were not returned. The chain has 11 locations, including ones in Sherman Oaks, Hollywood and Pasadena.
Bringing more arts programs to the Santa Clarita Valley would mean less trips into the Los Angeles basin, Weste said.
“I know nobody who wants to drive over the hill to go to anything,” she said.
The community has progressed from having a limited road network, few parks and libraries and no Metrolink stations to a bustling city, Weste said.
“We’re a grown-up city now,” she said. “It’s time to blossom into that.”
The mayor also suggested a drive-in theater with multiple screens.
“Families would go out and be out more, but they can’t afford babysitters,” she said. “A lot of parents want their kids with them and that is something that I think I have had nobody tell me that is something they wouldn’t like. I think it’s doable, we just have to find somebody who wants to do that project.”
The mayor also mentioned The MAIN events center and a study for a potential amphitheater in the city. A public meeting to discuss the amphitheater will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at The Centre, 20880 Centre Point Parkway, as part of an Arts and Entertainment Summit. Attendees will be able to give input on the location, look and focus of the amphitheater, but they must RSVP at SantaClaritaArts.com, city officials said.