Say goodbye to movie theaters

On the rare, eventless Friday night, there is always comfort in knowing that a movie theatre is nearby, shoveling buttery popcorn into red-and-white-striped bags for a like-minded audience there to share the screening experience communally.

Years from now, this could be something of the past.

Recently, the AMC Criterion 6 on the Third Street Promenade closed its doors to moviegoers. The Criterion 6 was one of three AMC movie theaters in Santa Monica, all of which within half a mile of each other.

Even though Hollywood keeps releasing box office hits that rake in millions, movie theaters across the country cannot keep up with the fraying interest of audiences and maintenance costs.

The problem lies in that the biggest film studios, like 20th Century Fox, have rumored that they will stop making 35mm movies by the end of 2013. Overseas, Fox already has ceased distributing 35mm prints in Hong Kong, effective Jan. 1, according to John Fithian, National Association of Theatre Owners president and chief executive officer, who spoke at CinemaCon this month.

This news has turned classic theaters, which have been run on analog 35mm film equipment since the dawn of the 20th century, into vacant pockets of history destined to be bought up by Gap and forgotten.

According to Yahoo, the costs for a movie theatre to upgrade to the new and improved format would cost $85,000, while bigger theaters like IMAX would probably not have a problem paying this premium fee, and smaller theaters like the AMC Criterion 6 obviously struggle to upgrade.

AMC was not available for comment as to why the theatre shut down recently, but the mandatory switch to digital is more than likely the culprit.

Jason Harris, economic development manager at City of Santa Monica said that the developer, who is renovating the space were the Criterion 6 used to be, already has a new tenant but is not ready to disclose who they are.

Harris also said that based on the size and the location of the retail space. The City expects the new tenant will have flagship store operations.

Now that 20th Century Fox has decided to switch completely to digital we will probably continue to see this trend catch up to the other Goliaths of the movie industry like Universal Studios and Miramax.

Will theatres become something of the past like phone booths, paper maps or letters? Only time will tell, but, in the meanwhile, forget that Netflix membership and go watch a movie among supporting company at a movie theatre.