Landmark to run BevHills Fine Arts

'Marius and Jeanette' now playing in specials venue

Landmark Theatres will assume the operations and programming of Cecchi Gori’s Fine Arts in Beverly Hills effective Friday. The French romantic comedy “Marius and Jeanette” will inaugurate the stewardship of the single screen, 500-seat venue, which the Italian media giant acquired in 1993.

“We bought the theater to do special programming and have felt that it never quite developed an identity,” said Cecchi Gori V.P. Anna Gross. “We’re confident that having a formal relationship with Landmark is really the ideal arrangement to finally realize the theater’s potential.”

A longtime site for specialized and foreign-language movies, the Fine Arts had been operated by Laemmle Theatres prior to 1993, when its lease on the property expired. It was immediately given a facelift by its new owners that included plush seats, state of the art projection and Sony Digital Sound system and an art deco interior, which features a ceiling consisting of thousands of glittering stars.

Following the refurbishment, the venue was leased back to Laemmle for a period and then Cecchi Gori hired the AMC chain, which was trying to develop a specialized component for its circuit, to program the theater. The company’s production of “Il Postino” had an extended run at the Fine Arts and a festival of films with its star Massimo Triosi was also a click.

But for more than a year, there had been signs of dissatisfaction and the rumor that the owners might self book or alter their policy. Initial overtures to Landmark were unsuccessful largely because the chain was in the process of being sold. Also, though considered a pristine location, the Fine Arts represented a booking challenge for companies that didn’t regularly program specialized fare.

Landmark, the largest domestic specialized chain, operates more than 150 screens including seven in Los Angeles. Titles lined up for the Fine Arts include the British “Under Heaven,” the Gypsy-themed “Gadjo Dilo” and “Firelight,” the recent Seattle fest curtain-raiser from England.