Before the groundbreaking for Old Town Newhall’s new Laemmle theater was announced for this month, Santa Clarita residents were already calling the city and the company for updates, representatives said.
Greg Laemmle, president of the movie chain coming to Santa Clarita, said local movie buffs have been excited about the new location, which will be the company’s 10th.
The Laemmle Newhall would sit on the corner of Railroad Avenue and Lyons Avenue when it opens in late 2019.
This location has been a long time coming — Laemmle said Laemmle Theatres had long been eyeing the SCV due to popular demand.
“The community is underserved in general in terms of overall number of screens, and it’s definitely underserved when it comes to presenting foreign and independent films,” Laemmle said. “So our ambition is to get it started.
“Ever since I’ve been working here, which is about 25 years now, people in the SCV have been calling and asking, ‘When are you coming to Santa Clarita? We’re tired of driving into the city or valley to see these movies,’” he said. “Over much of that time, we have expanded into being able to build and develop our own projects. That created an opportunity when the redevelopment agency looked at the idea of creating an arts and entertainment district in Old Town Newhall.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste was also excited about the new location, as she is among the movie buff residents awaiting its construction.
“This is one of the most thrilling things for everyone who loves cinema,” she said. “People are going to have opportunities to see great films right in Old Town Newhall — and it’s the most exciting thing for a town that helped start the movie industry. I get comments constantly about when it’s going to open.
“And this will keep our local dollars coming back to our community,” she added. “The theater can be a major motivator for surrounding businesses, and it’s a major economic engine.”
Laemmle said he is also excited for the retailers coming to SCV with the rise of Newhall’s arts and entertainment district, which will add to the hustle and bustle associated with going to the theater.
“This becomes an environment for experiential retail, and it’s going to feel very different from going to a movie theater in the mall,” he said. “There’ll be unique restaurants, not the cookie cutter ones that dominate the mall, because Old Town Newhall is the antithesis of that. And when you add in the opportunity for a 24-hour neighborhood because you’ve got people living in the area as well, that’s really unique.”
“We want to work, live and play in the SCV, and now there is one more opportunity to do that here,” Weste said.
The new building is projected to include seven screens and about 500 seats.
The Laemmle family has been involved with the movie industry for eight decades, since their business began in 1938. Kurt and Max Laemmle started the eponymous theater chains in 1938 before Greg’s father, Bob Laemmle, took it over. Industry pioneer Carl Laemmle, who founded Universal Pictures, was Kurt and Max’s uncle. Greg Laemmle has been president since 2004.
The groundbreaking for the theater, which also marks the next phase in the Redevelopment Block for Old Town Newhall, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 17 at the corner of Main Street and Lyons Avenue.