Mann may get competish

Multiplex could enter Westwood area

HOLLYWOOD — Speculation’s heating up that somebody may take another run at breaking Mann Theaters’ historic hold on L.A.’s important Westwood movie-theater market.

Mann is operated, since a recent bankruptcy reorganization, by WF Cinema Holdings, which is controlled by Warner Bros. and Paramount. As in many other ongoing Chapter 11 exhib bankruptcies, Mann has been trying to turns things around by closing under-performing theaters, in some cases by mutual agreement with landlords looking to convert properties to other uses.

As a result of those closures and some other possible small-theater shutterings in the area, Westwood may soon accommodate a multiplex of up to eight screens or so — its much-discussed, politically imposed neighborhood screen cap notwithstanding.

Lease in jeopardy

Meanwhile, there’s some chance the UA Westwood theater just south of Wilshire will lose its lease next year. Though it’s unlikely United Artists Theaters would feel much pain from the loss of those three screens, certain distribs could.

Sony, for instance, hasn’t been able to book many pics in other, Hollywood-premiere-caliber Westwood venues like the Bruin, Village or National because of a historically cool relationship with Mann. So the loss of the UA Westwood could see Sony lobby other exhibs to enter the Westwood fray.

Some observers suggest Pacific Theaters would be a good candidate to buy up existing Mann locations there or resurrect some version of its failed multiplex proposal for Westwood of a couple of years ago. AMC Theaters, which has vowed to grow both through acquisitions and selective construction, is also mentioned as a possible Westwood entrant.

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