News

CinéArts to shutter in August

Parent company of movie theater decides not to renew its lease at Palo Alto Square

Another cultural treasure in Palo Alto will flicker out of existence in August, when CinéArts at Palo Alto Square shuts down its operation, sources in the theater's parent company confirmed to the Palo Alto Weekly.

The decision to shutter the beloved theater was made by Cinemark, the Texas-based movie-theater chain that has operated the theater since it took over from Landmark in 2001. A company spokesman said Tuesday that the lease on the theater is set to expire in late August and the company had determined that the theater required costly upgrades. Rather than investing in the theater, the company decided not to renew the lease.

"The market has changed and the theater has gotten older," said James Meredith, Cinemark's vice president for communication. "A big amount was needed to be invested to update the theater and that just made it cost prohibitive."

Though Meredith could not say the exact date when the theater is closing, other sources familiar with the closure suggest it can come in early August. Between July 23 and 28, the theater is scheduled to screen movies for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. After that, it is expected to stay open for one week before shuttering for good.

This will be the second high-profile closure in the neighborhood around Palo Alto Square, a development at 3000 El Camino Real that includes about 320,000 square feet of commercial space. In 2014, the Page Mill YMCA ended its operations, causing consternation among many users of the gym, which was previously located at 775 Page Mill Road, next to Palo Alto Square.

The pending closure of CinéArts will deal another blow to the city's efforts to promote more services and cultural resources at the rapidly intensifying area around California Avenue.

While city officials scrambled Wednesday to consider possible options for preserving the theater, it became clear that there is little that they can legally do to prevent the closure. Hudson Pacific Properties, which in 2014 purchased Palo Alto Square from Equity Office, confirmed to the Weekly that the decision to close the theater was made solely by the theater company. This leaves the city with little leverage to negotiate with the property owner.

"Cinemark came to their own decision and informed us they were not staying," said Drew Gordon, senior vice president of Hudson Pacific.

But for movie lovers, the question of who made the decision is a moot point. CinéArts, long known for screening independent, foreign and art-house movies, remains one of just two general theaters left in the city and the only one not located in downtown. Once CinéArts shuts down, Aquarius Theatre will be the only theater in the city showing contemporary movies (the nearby Stanford Theatre only screens classic American movies).

Winter Dellenbach, a frequent moviegoer who took part in the unsuccessful 1994 battle to preserve downtown's Varsity Theatre (which became a Borders bookstore and, more recently, an event space and coffee house called HanaHaus), called the impending closure of CinéArts a "crying shame" and noted that in recent years the Midpeninsula's stock of movie theaters has dropped from more than a dozen to just a handful.

"Just as California Avenue is intensifying in use -- in housing uses, in restaurants, in attracting people during the evening and during the day -- the theater is a perfect resource and a valuable resource," Dellenbach said. "Just at the time when people could've really appreciated it is the exact time when it seems that it is lost."

While it wasn't immediately clear what type of business will move into the CinéArts building, a recent law passed by the City Council ensures that it will have to be a retail establishment. In 2015, the council passed an ordinance preventing ground-floor retail establishments to be replaced by non-retail businesses. There is no requirement, however, that the outgoing theater be replaced by a new one.

Councilwoman Karen Holman, who recently learned about the closure, lamented the new development.

"Palo Altans do not take kindly to the loss of its entertainment and cultural outlets," Holman told the Weekly. "And we can't and shouldn't get all of our entertainment from a device inches away from our noses. If CinéArts Theatre is allowed to close, either by its own initiation or by requirements placed on it by Palo Alto Square management, it will be a most unpopular and sad event in Palo Alto."

Holman also noted that because of the retail-protection ordinance, the theater cannot be replaced by office and urged CinéArts and Palo Alto Square management to "work together to resolve any challenges for continuing operations of this valued cultural amenity in the heart of Palo Alto."

Councilwoman Liz Kniss, who also learned in recent days about the theater's plans to close, likewise lamented the closure of CinéArts. She noted that unlike other area theaters, CinéArts screened quality independent movies and offered patrons an amenity that others didn't: plentiful parking.

"It's another one of those community losses that really affects us deeply," she said.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

44 people like this
Posted by Annette Isaacson
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:10 am

Annette Isaacson is a registered user.

What a loss for movie lovers.


53 people like this
Posted by P Walker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:32 am

Perhaps a campaign by movie viewers could let Cinearts know that there is support for the theater without "costly upgrades"? I like the theater as it is. I sent a message to Cinemark - Web Link


42 people like this
Posted by Jan
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:41 am

Please don't let these theaters close. We will be losing great independent cinema.


20 people like this
Posted by GrandmaKK
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:07 am

Why doesn't someone re-open the old theater on California Ave?


60 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:09 am

I adore this theater just as it is! I too can do without "costly upgrades". Some times I am able to sneak away from work and catch a matinee there - I love that there's a whole crew of senior citizens who meet and have coffee and watch the films together. It's a community spot and one of the few places to see independent films. This will be a huge loss! Is there a contact at Cinemark we can write to?


63 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:10 am

Palo Alto Square ????

Please do not close this best theater in Palo Alto !

This is my favorite theater in the area,
The only place that has both civiliized adult patronage that is not
totally annoying and good easy parking close to the theater doors.
I have been going here since it opened
What a mistake for Cinearts, and Palo Alto.
Please reconsider this bad move.

Haven't the costly upgrades already been made here, and
they are great? The Palo Alto Square theater is a dream.

If you want to close a theater, close the Guild in Menlo Park.
It is a mess and you can never find parking and the bathrooms
are a total negative.


19 people like this
Posted by kgt
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:13 am

As a senior citizen I truly enjoyed the movies they showed. A lot of them spoke to my generation. I sure will miss it. I hope the new movie theater in Los Altos (to open mid 2017) will show some of the same type of movies.


9 people like this
Posted by Cubberley neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:16 am

Will miss this venue!
Lots of changes to our area. The San Antonio Road development includes a ten cineplex opening in 2017.


64 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:19 am

No, no, no, no, please no.

This is the only place to see some of the decent movies around here with decent parking.

The mega movie theaters show very few of the movies that Palo Alto Square shows.

I am beginning to think that we live in a desert. Anything that is worth preserving in terms of quality of life is going.


27 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

I just emailed CineArts at their website suggested by one of the first people to comment on this lamentable turn. Please do it yourselves. It is very easy. Maybe some City Council people can do it too!


1 person likes this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:33 am

"Why doesn't someone re-open the old theater on California Ave?"

One reason is because the old Fine Arts Theater building is now home to a restaurant and a running store/cafe.

Also, it would cost millions of dollars to convert it back into a working theater. And the theater would then have to be heavily subsidized to survive.


38 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:34 am

-- "It's another one of those community losses that really affects us deeply," Liz Kniss said.

YES, this is something that will really affect people. If you can do multi-miilion dollar
giveaways to developers like the Miki's Market and Fresh Market and others, then why
not see if there is something to be done to save the Palo Alto Square for the actual
people of Palo Alto?

How about the revolutionary idea of actually caring about and doing something for the
declining quality of life in Palo Alto?

Palo Alto City Council, if there is something you can do to keep this from happening,
shake a leg!!!

And why am I also not surprised this is a Texas based decision ... of course they do not
want California supporting independent movies, just like the wanted to screw over
our energy markets. Why do evil Texas tentacles kill good things all over the country?


32 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:48 am

Annette is a registered user.

Wish I could "like" Jen's comment 1000 times! Upgrades I can live without but not having Met Live in HD is another matter altogether! Every time I go to CineArts I think how lucky I am to live in a city that has such a theater. I will email CineArts. This is a mega bummer.


24 people like this
Posted by Juan olive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

Like Joan said. IT IS VERY EASY TO WRITE TO THEM AND ASK FOR THEM NOT TO CLOSE IT DOWN

1. Web Link

2. Scroll down to "Contact Us"

3. Fill out the form

Note:
Make up a time, movie, or fill it in with (N/A)
Let's hope for the best.


31 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I agree with everyone else who's posted comments. This is a terrible loss. I love this theater and consider it a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the world--keep it just as it is. It definitely does not need upgrades. I can park (or walk) and not have to worry about getting a parking ticket. I, too, will contact CineMark Theatres to let them know they are about to make a horrible mistake.


25 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jul 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm

OH NO! A real loss. My wife and I have spent many enjoyable times at the movies there. Operas from the Met., many movies not playing elsewhere. Very sad.


9 people like this
Posted by Movie buff
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 20, 2016 at 12:40 pm

About 15 years ago landmark wanted to build a multiplex at the stanford shopping center. Naturally this brought out the NIMBYS who assured the usual litany of complaints and the project was shelved. Do not expect Holman or kniss to do anything.
Also I have to question winters math. When I moved here 21 years ago there was a 12 plex in redwood city. The guild and park, Aquarius palo alto square and the 16 plex in Mountain view. Now redwood city has a 20 plexand the park is gone. Which theatres in revert years closed in this area?


17 people like this
Posted by Jwheeler
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Thanks to Juan olive for the easy to use link. Let's all write and do what we can to show support to save the theatre. It is an asset to the community and preferable to the massive theatres.


14 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 12:56 pm

This is what Palo Alto wanted, right? Less businesses less traffic less people...


44 people like this
Posted by Azzedine
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Azzedine is a registered user.

This is just nuts! This is a nice, clean, comfortable theatre that shows great indie films for people who dislike the usual Hollywood fluff!

Unlike the Aquarius or the Park, it is a pleasure to go to the CineArts in PA Square.

I have emailed the company in Texas, and hope that enough Palo Altans are upset enough to do likewise!


8 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Please do not spend one dime of city money to subsidize this out-of-date theatre. For those who want to see their favorite oldie-but-goodie and or strange avant-garde movies, just go on the Internet and order it up.


22 people like this
Posted by Chrisc
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 20, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Why does everything have to be glitzy in Palo Alto? I can't imagine Palo Alto without these theaters. BTW, I love the euphemism "consternation" in the article: "In 2014, the Page Mill YMCA ended its operations, causing consternation among many users of the gym..." The word "rage" doesn't begin to describe it.


24 people like this
Posted by BalancedCarefulConsideration
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 20, 2016 at 1:59 pm

BalancedCarefulConsideration is a registered user.

Sigh. Yet another bit of bad news locally - as globally these days- that makes me want to leave not only the Bay Area but the country!


22 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 20, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Sarah1000 is a registered user.

No one has mentioned the really good popcorn as well. Jennifer- Many directors make their movies to be viewed on the big screen and some aspects of composition are lost when these films are viewed on a laptop. I'm writing CineArts. . .


30 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Nooooooo!!! I've been going to the Palo Alto square theatre since 1980. It's a pleasant, comfortable theatre with easy access unlike the Century theatre off Shoreline or the Century theater in downtown Redwood City - a nightmare to drive to on a Friday evening and difficult to find parking in the parking garage.

I've lived in Palo Alto/Menlo Park for many years and witnessed the closing of the Bijou, Fine Arts, Park, and Varsity theaters. If the Palo Alto Square theatre closes, Palo Alto and Menlo Park will be left with three theaters: Stanford (old movies), Aquarius and Guild (small, artsy theaters).

For once I'd like to read about something really fantastic happening in Palo Alto.


28 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 20, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Sarah1000 is a registered user.

I found the CEO's (Mark Zoradi) email on-line. mzoradi@cinemark.com. I sent him a link to our comments.


23 people like this
Posted by Ken Horowitz
a resident of University South
on Jul 20, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Thank you Gennady for including in your story about the Page Mill YMCA closing down in 2014. The Y is greatly missed by ~1500 members who were displaced by its closing. Perhaps Cinemark would consider a new venture to combine the theater with a fitness center both of which have and would continue to contribute greatly to the quality of life for Palo Altans.


10 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 2:28 pm

Yes, quite a loss. However, as I understand it, it's not "independent." I believe they're owned by Century Theaters. They've accepted the same Costco movie passed that I use for Century Theaters at Shoreline. I thought I asked once and a worker there confirmed Century as the owner.


19 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2016 at 3:34 pm

This theater is one of Palo Alto's more lovable, livable spots.

Cinemark is threatened again by out of touch developers whose silence about future use is deafening. It is time to test the mettle and stewardship of all nine Councilpersons and determined if they are committed to quality of life in Palo Alto.

I have an open mind. Maybe there is a better use of this space. If so, Council and the property owner should step up and make the case for change. More likely Council members will bob and weave without any clear direction for future use of this incredible asset for citizens. Time for a decisive Palo Alto process.


15 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I see we've found the next bowling alley. I guess we'll be hearing about this for the next 20 years.

For all the efforts to "save" the theater now - why weren't you buying enough tickets? That's what would have saved the theater and made it worthwhile for the company to update the facility.

You can only blame yourselves for not being good enough customers if it were really that important to you.


4 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm

I know it's not a drop-in replacement for the CineArts Palo Alto Square, but a ten-screen Showplace ICON movie theatre is scheduled to open at San Antonio Center in 2017. Hopefully they will screen some independent films.


21 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:28 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

This theatre does not need any upgrades. It is modern, extremely comfortable, and watching a movie there is an absolute pleasure. This reminds me too much of the closing of the Page Mill YMCA a couple of years ago. It took them several months to get their message together, changing the reason for the closure several times.


21 people like this
Posted by julianne
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I don't need "upgrades" - the theater is fine the way it is. I'm sorry that the parent Co. wants to leave our area.


7 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Movie theater attendance is declining. The owners of CinéArts may simply see the writing on the marquee, so to speak. Who knows if they're even turning a profit.


5 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 5:03 pm

@ Me: I have 5 movie passes for CineArts, given to me as gifts, that I haven't used in years because there are so few good movies to see. I love going to the movies and would go more frequently if only there were more appealing movies to see. Also, I noticed that the Palo Alto square tends to show the same movie for several months, and with only two theaters, once a patron has seen the movie there's no reason to return until a new one comes out, which sometimes takes up to six months. Perhaps they should do what other theaters are doing and show retro movies- like a Film Noir festival or something, along with new releases.


16 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2016 at 5:26 pm

LIke the burghers of Calais, maybe we should send a delegation to Hudson Pacific Properties --not CineMark -- and tell them that despite them having spent $3.5 BILLION on office space here, we are really, really, really, really going to enforce our ordinance this time about no conversion of retail to office space.

more info:
Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Like anything else, profits for movie theatres depend on a reasonable rent. Although the new owners say that it was the decision of Landmark/Century, can anyone believe that a major part of that decision was based on the increased rent?

I thought this was zoned only as a theatre. I'm very sorry that it qualifies for other retail. I hope they hold the owners to every possible zoning requirement. They should not get any exceptions for anything. Another example of greed.

When Palo Alto Square was sold in 2014, was the property reappraised to the purchase price or did they do some other quasi-legal transfer that allowed them to keep the same property tax assessment and avoid any tax increase?


12 people like this
Posted by Julianna
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Agree with all the sad sentiments about the theater. Have heard the Guild is closing too. So many local independent businesses are leaving. The area is losing its character. And I just got here!

I'd love to see us fight and win to keep the theater. But realistically corporate profitability will likely reign. Maybe we could raise money from all the wealthy ones around here and open a conjoined theater-fitness center. Name it after the biggest contributor. All creativity and resourcefulness needed!!


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:27 pm

This theatre threatened closure about 10 years ago. What worked then to get them to stay?

The parent company used to be based in California but apparently after the orininal family sold out, the HQ was moved.

I think there is a better chance with a different operator.


17 people like this
Posted by Michael Vilain
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:28 pm

When Landmark left back in 2000 and the Chicago-based management company that owned the property tried to tear it down, they discovered that the CC&Rs for the property *required* that the business that occupy the space must be a movie theater.

Has that changed?

If so, by whom and by what process? If the property sits vacant for decades like the old Park theater, that's one thing, but "another retail business" can't move in there unless they're a movie theater.


31 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Sarah said -> For once I'd like to read about something really fantastic happening in Palo Alto.

I hear you there Sarah - what a revolutionary idea .... but that would mean that at least a few decisions not be all about money and made in the best interests of the residents. That "best interests of the residents" idea is just empty slogan these days ... there is no such thing in Palo Alto ... it is all about the battle of capital which assumes that we are all captive consumers who will be happy or at least put up with whatever kind of unpleasantness they drop on us from above..

It would be nice if Palo Alto could pilot some kind of program that would demand a democratic ( small-d ) city to control 25-30% of its real estate in the public interests in order to enhance life for residents, change things like widen problem streets, or consolidate City features for the public good. The private sector needs a little competition and coercion occasionally to do the right thing. When there is non we get a constantly declining quality of life and a constantly rising cost of living and a constantly shrinking base of political power and involvement.

This theater has been unique in its constituency served ... mostly older, more adult, independent moviegoers. As some of the comments above had indicated, people would go more often if they changed the movies more often.

Since the Guild has turned into such a mess I refuse to go there, so I wait for a new movie that appears at the Guild to go to the Palo Alto Square because it is so much nicer to go there. But the movies stay for months. The last movie I saw there was "Where to Invade Next". It was great and I saw it several times with several different groups of friends.

I don't see myself going to the multiplexes because of the crowds, hassles, parking and audience. At the Palo Alto Square I never hear people being disruptive in the audience. The theater is clean and comfortable, now even more so with the reclining easy-chair seating. This is a big mistake.


3 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

I'm sure the Ohlone thought about writing King Charles of Spain when the last of their shellmounds were to be redeveloped.


8 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2016 at 8:19 am

CrescentParkAnon: "It would be nice if Palo Alto could pilot some kind of program that would demand a democratic ( small-d ) city to control 25-30% of its real estate in the public interests in order to enhance life for residents, change things like widen problem streets, or consolidate City features for the public good. "

Sure thing. Put your money where your mouth is. Are you up for giving up 25-30% of your home? I'm sure we in Palo Alto can tell you how you should be using your home and what you should be doing in it.

"The private sector needs a little competition and coercion occasionally to do the right thing. "

By being a resident and either owning or renting your property, you are part of the private sector. Hope you enjoy while we coerce you into doing what we think you should be doing.


2 people like this
Posted by willing to pay a premium
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:21 am

This decision must be driven by bottom-line considerations. Out of curiosity what would people be willing to pay to keep the theater in town? Currently a Friday evening screening costs around $12.50. Would people be okay with getting rid of the senior discount and bumping up the price to $20? That sounds a bit high, but it may be what it takes to keep the theater. You might also consider buying popcorn and drinks there more often. If they can't bring in more revenue then we have to say goodbye to them. I have enjoyed many movies at this theater and will be sad to see it go.


9 people like this
Posted by pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:36 am

The south bay and peninsula towns have been turning in to a cultural desert for years now, this is just one more nail

no decent art, music or food

plus the 9PM curfew, yuck.

Non of these things can thrive here is the current real estate market. Rent goes up, cultural life goes down.



13 people like this
Posted by AnneL
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

AnneL is a registered user.

Please find a way to keep this movie theater!

Palo Alto needs this small scale theater that shows quality films and film festivlas. A lot of new housing is being built and it's only a matter of time until there will be even more theater goers.


8 people like this
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2016 at 11:28 am

There may be more to this story. There are dead redwood trees all over the front parking lot at Palo Alto Square for years now at a major
intersection in Palo Alto and gateway to the Research Park. Why is there no maintenance - these trees need to be cleared, and exactly why are they dying off like this? Has an arborist looked into this? Where is the City in addressing this situation? So is maximizing the bottom line, return on equity, driving the decision-making here to an extent that nothing else matters? The Theatre is another casualty, following in the footsteps of the eysore and potentially hazardous unmaintained parking lot.

Also, recall that the City did nothing to save or
relocate the Barbie Doll Museum on Waverley back in
1999 which was taken out by an expansion of Zibibbo
which is now gone too.


16 people like this
Posted by Ironic Neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2016 at 11:41 am

The next time a developer wants to build an office building, the planning board should require an independent movie theater be located on the ground floor. And when that theater goes out of business the city council should make them put in a grocery store. And when the grocery store goes out of business, the council should make them convert it to ground floor retail, but no chain stores please!


2 people like this
Posted by Upgrades
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 21, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Here's the kind of upgrades Cinemark was thinking about: Web Link

They will have to compete with the new theaters just down the road at San Antonio Center. They have already turned the Century Theaters in Mountain View on Shoreline Blvd into this kind of theater complex, and that theater is slated to be TORN DOWN soon (and replaced). So these recliner seats are very expensive.


16 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I just found the PA Weekly article announcing the agreement to keep the movie theatres open in 2001. At that time the PA Weekly stated that zoning required that space to be used as a movie theatre. I hope the City Council will not let them change that zoning.

I sent the following letter to the city council:

This is the third time since I moved here that the owners of PA Square have tried to close the theatres. Both times the theatres were saved. The last time, in June 2001, the PA Online article announcing the deal included the following:

"Susan Arpan, Palo Alto's economics resource planning manager, said she was pleased to hear Equity was in talks with Landmark. Arpan, along with Mayor Sandy Eakins and such council members as Gary Fazzino, had been lobbying Equity on the theater's behalf.

Arpan noted that one thing in Landmark's favor was that the zoning for the site required a movie theater to be there."

If the zoning for the site required a movie theatre in 2001, why doesn't it now? If this was true, then Landmark has the right to quit but the managers of PA Square have no right to use the space for anything but a movie theatre. My strong guess is that this was a community benefit agreed to when PA Square was built, as that complex was very controversial even then.

Please check this out with PA's current economic resource planning manager and let me (and PA Online and the rest of Palo Alto) know what the zoning and the CC&R's for that property are. And please, if there are legal restrictions on the use of that space, do not give in and let them use it for anything else. Too often the city has let local property owners abrogate their agreements for community benefits. Please don't allow this to happen again.

Web Link


Kathleen Goldfein
Resident since 1989


8 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Seriously?

Just like the grocery business, the movie business has changed and evolved. Like I said earlier, you only have yourselves to blame for not going to the theater more often if it were so important to you.

Holding on to old, outdated businesses is just another example of how Prop 13 has ossified residents and mindsets of Palo Alto into an aging retirement community fighting against modernity and, yes, the growing populations of "non-Europeans."

The theater business has to compete not only with other theaters, but also with your living room. This has been happening since the advent of cable, much less streaming video services like Netflix.

Quit holding on to the past. 1985 isn't coming back.

Signed,

Me
Who moved to Palo Alto more recently than 1989 and is subsidizing the property tax of residents who have been here since 1989.


6 people like this
Posted by Wendy Smith
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I must agree with Marie. It is also my recollection that when Landmark left the Square another film presentation company had to occupy the space due to the zoning requiring the space to be a theater. That is when Century opened it as Cinemark. I also agree that the City of Palo Alto needs to check their zoning requirements for this site and let everyone know what the zoning requirements are.

Also, I would bet that some of the expensive upgrades are not just fancy seats (which are horrible) but projection equipment. Nothing less than 4K digital equipment is becoming workable now as most distribution companies are now supplying 4K digital discs or signal to theaters now. And it is very expensive equipment.

Also, movies tend to stay for long periods of time if people are still coming to see them. Distribution splits for box office run like this - first couple of weeks the theater gets a split that is very low (lets say the theater gets 10 cents and the distributor gets 90 cents); the next few weeks the split gets wider (theater gets 40 cents and distributor gets 60 cents as an example); by the time it stays a month or more the theater gets more and more of the box office. So it benefits the theater to keep the movie as long as they can to get the most money out of it.

When you hear the box office numbers/earnings for a movie on opening weekends a huge cut of that money goes to the production/distributor companies that made and then show the film in the theaters. The theaters hope they sell popcorn and soda that weekend. And yes, the theater makes most of their money off of concessions especially when the movie first opens. So spend your money on the popcorn if you want to support your local theaters. Go to the Aquarius and do the cafe thing to support your local theater. That's where they can make some money to keep the place open.

Let's hope the zoning forces the City to look at what they can require the property owner to do regarding that space. Movies - the new grocery store public amenity scenario.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:53 pm

To Marie and Wendy--Supposedly the theatre is protected now under something known as the "interim retail ordinance" that was passed by the City Council in 2015. I'm wondering if that changed its zoning status from what it was before.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 8:57 am

A night out at the movies is increasingly more expensive for a family. When my parents were dating, they went to their nearest movie theater every Friday night regardless what was playing. Movie going has changed and needs to change again. A friend was out of town recently and went to see a movie in a local theater. Not only were the seats reclining, but there was a drinks and snacks service delivered to their seats!

People will still want a night out. Going out for a meal or going out for a movie are the classic night out entertainments. Movies have been improving of late with genres aimed at different demographics. There has to be theaters to suit these demographics too.

I love Palo Alto Square because the experience is more pleasant and the movies are not found elsewhere. We need these type of movies and we need an evening out. Is there any way we can get more organized to send a message? PS I have sent an email through the website shown above.


2 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

"Movies - the new grocery store public amenity scenario."

Great. We've seen how successful a top-down planning approach has worked so far for Edgewood, JJ&F and Alma Plaza.

"We need these type of movies and we need an evening out."

*You* may "need," but for a business to survive, are there enough of people like you? Since the theater is closing, clearly there aren't. If you believe otherwise, hey, we're in the epicenter of entrepreneurship. Feel free to start your own boutique theater.

Lobbying government, developers and companies won't change fundamental market and economic facts here. There sure are a lot of people who appear to live in fantasyland.


9 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I hate to admit it but 'Me' is right. That's why my town has changed so much since we moved here in 1961. But at least I have good memories of those 'good old days' and all those local theaters others have mentioned. We even had a drive-in just minutes away from our home. Saw lots of James Bond and Pink Panther movies there. 'Ship of Fools' and 'Gandhi' at Fine Arts. I hadn't seen a movie for several years when my wife, Garnet, was suffering from many health issues. When she died in June 2014 I started going to movies again. That year I saw 7 movies, many of them Academy nominees and winners. I saw 'Birdman' and 'Chef' at CineArts. It was so easy to get there, park, and walk right in...no lines...buy a ticket, then buy popcorn and a soft drink and go in and enjoy the movies. I'll try to see a couple more before they close. I've watched the trailer to 'Cafe Society'. That might be my farewell movie there.

Other trivia. I remember when Kirk's was on El Camino, then Cal Ave, and now at T&C. And when Ming's was also on El Camino, then on Embarcadero just across Bayshore Freeway, and now they've gone out of business. I just have to get used to the changes because that hole in the dike is much bigger than my finger.


27 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Nowhere in the article does it state that this was not a profitable movie theater.

We lost the YMCA there which was used by a large number of people and it was only bookkeeping that put memberships at other YMCAs rather than usage at this particular one.

We lost the Palo Alto Bowl which was also a profitable business.

I am not of the opinion that these businesses close because they are not supported. I am of the opinion that developers are out to sell their properties for high amounts of money and that is why we are losing out to things that make this a livable community.

Without some of these recreational activities then Palo Alto is becoming a desert.


8 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2016 at 5:40 pm

"Nowhere in the article does it state that this was not a profitable movie theater."

Nowhere in the article does it state it was a profitable movie theater either.

"We lost the YMCA there which was used by a large number of people and it was only bookkeeping that put memberships at other YMCAs rather than usage at this particular one."

Large number does not mean the same as large *enough* number.

"I am not of the opinion that these businesses close because they are not supported."

No one said there was no support. Just not enough of you.


7 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Here's a link to an online petition to save CineArts at Palo Alto Square if anyone would like to add their name. You may need to cut and paste it into your browser.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I was just coming here to post the CineArts petition that Lydia Kuo sent me but Jean beat me to it,

By the way, why was the topic on Lydia's announcement of her candidacy closed but the one on the article on Liz K's candidacy still open?


3 people like this
Posted by Lakiba Pittman
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 23, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Very disappointed to hear about this. A unique showcase of films that I had the fortune to 'discover' by going to this special place. Signed the petition and also, wrote them on the website someone posted.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard Brand
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:44 pm

Major (another) loss for our community. But there is a way to fight back. Some of you may remember the Save the Varsity campaign.
To save the theater at Palo Alto Square, there is now a petition you can sign which will go to the parties involved. Her is the website: Web Link
NOte that you do NOT have to enter your email address which is optional.


1 person likes this
Posted by Richard Brand
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:51 pm

CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS POST.
The petition can be found on this site: Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:54 pm

What a great theater ... just saw "Cafe Society" there today.
I hope it is not the last time I am able to see a movie there!
I was packed but the seating is comfortable and not crowded.


Like this comment
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 24, 2016 at 9:20 am

Be Positive is a registered user.

Another thread commented on the trees in the lots at Palo Alto Square that were deliberately being killed to make way for upcoming development. That is a huge parking lot - lots of room for new buildings of some kind... The land is much more valuable to the owner as offices or housing instead of the dying business of movie theaters...


7 people like this
Posted by Suekemp
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm

The theater at Palo Alto Square has long been our favorite. I really hate to see it go, and I am still confused about who exactly is responsible. The landlord, (they told us when we bought our tickets Friday night that the landlord would not renew the lease), or the theater owner. I really hope that it will be possible to save this comfortable and good-movie-choosing theater!


4 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 25, 2016 at 11:37 am

Why beg the Texas owners to keep the theatre open? They are a business and will only continue the business if they can turn a sufficient profit and can get a lease renewal to allow that. A petition means nothing to them.

Instead, if there is zoning or restrictions that this must be a movie theatre, then we should see if there is any theatre company or individual that can pay the rent and make a profit. Even if it is restricted to be a theatre, is there any cap on rents that can be asked? We have been lucky to have David Packard providing millions to restore, maintain, and run the Stanford Theatre on University. It's a great deal for the community.

I'm afraid this is just another result of limited and expensive property in Palo Alto. Owners of property will always look for the best return on their investment. This is why so many rentals are being used as AirBnB rentals instead of long term rentals.

Unfortunately for the Movie theatre business, as rents go up it may be impossible to raise movie prices sufficiently because the movie business has such competition with streaming to home screens.


12 people like this
Posted by movielover
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2016 at 11:45 am

This is a terrible loss for the community. Why is this surprising? The Palo Alto City Council has made it nearly impossible for a commercial land owner to develop anything at all. Mountain View supported Merlone Geier's project at San Antonio and El Camino Real to deliver much needed housing to the area. The landlord loses money on the retail (as a stand-alone operation), but they provide it as an amenity to the apartment tenants. Yes, the project is massive. And residents in Palo Alto don't want that...but where's the happy medium? Of COURSE the movie theatre is going to close when a cineplex will open down the street in a bright and shiny new mixed-use development! Palo Alto Square is absolutely hideous with a massive parking lot. It's an obvious site for a fantastic mixed-use project. But, our City Council will make it impossible (or outrageously expensive) to build anything useful on the site. So, if you want to say that the landlord wanted too much rent from the movie theatre tenant, I ask how is the landlord supposed to make money on its investment? We can't expect that businesses can survive in Palo Alto when the City won't let anyone develop anything new. Businesses will continue to move to Mountain View and Redwood City. If residents in Palo Alto really don't want any new development, then they can plan to travel to neighboring communities for their entertainment. This is the downstream impact of shouting "NIMBY" to our City Council.

People think that building new projects makes rents go up and forces local businesses away. That's not exactly how it happens. Rents go up because there is a limited supply of space to rent. Why does it cost $5,000 to rent a dumpy house in Palo Alto? It's not because the house is new. It's because there are so few houses to rent. The same thing is true for commercial properties.

Hopefully, the new theatre complex will show some independent films. Hopefully, the residents in Palo Alto will start supporting smart, new development, rather than just shouting "No!" to everything.


8 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm

If you want to keep the Theater, sign the petition at Web Link

We're still collecting supporters.


3 people like this
Posted by Memebr
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jul 26, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Really, really love the Cinema. Please don't close it down


Like this comment
Posted by Fatalistic??
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2016 at 1:29 am


I want the Palo Alto Square theater to remain if at all possible.

But, if it is not, can the company get together with the Stanford theater
and donate the old chairs to upgrade the Stanford theater.

I have not been to the Stanford in a while now ... not because I don't love
that old place and the great movies they play, but because the seats are
too small and old. It is torture to sit in that old theater these days.

Is that possible, or can the Stanford theater redo their seating? I'd love
to go back there every week ... what a wonderful place.

It is a shame to lose any of the things that make Palo Alto great, and both
the Palo Alto Square and Stanford are things I recall almost form the time
I moved here.

Does anyone else actually remember when it was one big theater?


5 people like this
Posted by L. Murray
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2016 at 7:41 am

This is a tragedy for people like me who dislike so much of what passes for movies out there now. This theater features quality independent and art films that never make it to the mainstream theaters. Just another example of the dumbing down of America! We don't value the right things. This theater is a gem and they are tossing it away. I was sad to read this yesterday in the paper.


3 people like this
Posted by Catherine Shinners
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2016 at 11:06 am

I hope the Cine-Arts stays. I am a regular patron and love having a good theater right here in Palo Alto. (just attended Cafe Society Sunday night).

The article indicated that Cinemark felt the theater needed costly upgrades.
It's a fine theater, and much loved by the community. I don't need the fancy, couch-potato seating of Shoreline. Why the need to improve?

Keep the Cine-Arts...


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:26 am

Oh, somehow this thread got kicked way down in the lineup, so a
bunch of condescending irrelevant comments about capitalism and
flag waving could make this look like a foregone conclusion.

When the City designates a community resouce, that is not some kind
of Venezuelan communist revolution, it is a nice thing to make our City
better and more livable, and no one was forced to sign it or accept it.

The fact that money can be made from it now 30 or 40 years later,
whatever it is is a temptation for anyone that can think of a way to
push this over to try to go or it.

But it is kind of like the City of New York for example realizing,
shortsightedly, yeah, we could make a ton of money by developing
Central Park ... at the expense of the whole city and the whole
country.

I'm really getting sick of selfish disingenuous people trying to
stand up all holier than thou and pretend they care about capitalism
when it just their bank accounts they care about or their poltical
machine that gets them paid.


2 people like this
Posted by Los Altos Hills anonymous
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jul 31, 2016 at 7:27 pm

OMG! The only reasonable movie theater in the area. A great place for older viewers with adequate parking, comfortable seats, and wonderful movies not found elsewhere. Please can't someone see a way to keep this open?


Like this comment
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2016 at 8:51 pm

If all the people posting here really want to keep the theatre open I thinks there are two ways of doing it.

Either they can all group together and buy the theatre and run it themselves or they can sign binding contracts with the current owners that they will pay xxx dollars per month to keep the theatre open. If all the people who have signed the petition commit to $100 or $200 per month then maybe the theatre will stay open.

But to sign a petition where the signers but don't commit to participating in the solution is just whining.

/marc


Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2016 at 10:17 pm

Just came from see Cafe Society tonight and they said they are scheduled to close on Thursday. What more can we do? I could contribute a monthly amount if everyone could handle that
Berry sad. It's a perfectly comfortable theater no upgrades needed as far as I think.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2016 at 11:59 am

Hilarious. People really think a petition will keep this open? Online petitions are worth no more than the electrons used to click a button on a webpage.

Want to make a difference? Actually go to the theater and being a paying customer.


Like this comment
Posted by Fran
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2016 at 12:31 pm

All the blames go to the city of Palo Alto. They dont understand the scope of this loss. Why don't they pressure landmark
to operate PA Square ? Landmark is sitting on lots of money and charge $12 for awful Guild which doesn't even have a decent
toilet !! I agree potions are useless at this point


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2016 at 12:38 pm

The theater should wise up and start selling 10-ticket books for $100 or so. If they sell enough to make the theater profitable, then keep it open. If not, then the problem is Palo Alto residents that whine more than they spend.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 1, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Landmark owns the Guild and the Aquarius.
The Palo Alto Square is owned by Cinemark.

I am not sure what or if there is any relationship between the two companies.
The Guild ought to be shut down for all kinds of deficiencies, bathroom, seating,
parking, decor, snacks etc, ... it is terrible and I refuse to go there any longer.

Maybe Landmark could move the Guild to the Palo Alto Square?
That would a trade worth making, good for everyone.

Though I hope the email protests and petition might have created some doubts
with Cinemark about closing the Palo Alto Square, I doubt that going to the Palo
Alto Square in the next few days is going to do anything for their numbers, but
NOT going to the Guild might provoke some action about acquiring a newer better
venue.

I'd say let's NOT go to the Guild in protest and see if we can get them to
expand and move to the Palo Alto Square, and maybe get the City to chip in
on a one time basis for any upgrades to the building itself?

Target Landmark to make a move of the Guild to the Palo Alto Square and expand!


Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Aug 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm


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