Pacific Theatres could be the first circuit to crack Mann Theatres’ longtime lock on Westwood Village.Developer Ira Smedra is expected to announce Tuesday a deal with Pacific to operate a 3,400-seat multiplex in his planned Westwood Center Village mall. Pacific is involved with Smedra’s Arba Group in another entertainment and retail complex in Hastings Ranch. Smedra has been searching for a theater operator for the controversial project for about two years. During that time he reportedly has talked with a number of other exhibitors, including AMC, Edwards and Mann. At one time, Smedra seemed to be close to a deal with AMC. More recently, he has had on-again off-again talks with Mann. Mann, which has for over a decade operated all of the cinemas in the village, recently confirmed plans to run a 2,800-seat multiplex in Regent Properties’ Westwood Marketplace, a rival development to the Westwood Center Village mall. Pacific already has a presence in the Westwood area, though not in the Village: It operates the Crest Theatre, on Westwood Boulevard, south of Wilshire. The circuit’s 300-plus screens, which include both walk-in and drive-in sites, are located throughout California and Hawaii. Westwood Center Village has met with fierce opposition from homeowners and environmental groups, who say it will cause traffic and parking problems. The developers are asking for an amendment to the Village Specific Plan, which caps the number of theater seats at the current level of 6,030. A public hearing is expected in December. Smedra could not be reached Thursday. Neither Allan Abshez, attorney for the project, nor Neil Haltrecht, VP of Pacific Theatres Realty, would comment on the matter. A press conference is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at the complex’s Westwood office. Pacific’s other major L.A. project is an entertainment complex that will surround the Cinerama Dome. Plans call for a three-story structure with the dome at its base, 15 new theaters on the second level and other retail outlets, restaurants and a health club on the upper floor. Haltrecht said city officials will meet early next year to consider the project and he anticipates an easy passage. The current schedule envisions construction beginning in spring 1998 for a late 1999 opening. The refurbishment of the Dome will likely result in the screen being dark for up to nine months.
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