(Photo courtesy Google Images)

(Photo courtesy Google Images)

DOWNTOWN — At least three independent movie theater operators have been sniffing around the Downtown site recently dropped by AMC Theatres, city officials say, sustaining hope that the break in negotiations with the company will not hurt development efforts there.

Arclight Theatres, LOOK Cinemas and Ipic — all boutique brands — have expressed some interest in putting a theater at the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, said Jason Harris, economic development manager with City Hall.

It’s very early in the process, what he described as “kicking the tire.”

“At this point, we are meeting with companies interested and asking them to submit proposals,” he said. “So far, none have been received, but I believe several are working on them.”

Harris hopes the situation will be clearer within a month. None of the companies involved would confirm looking at the development.

Inquiries about the site come less than three months after AMC backed off negotiations with City Hall to put a state-of-the-art multiplex theater on the City Hall-controlled property.

The AMC development team said that the 70,000-square-foot project would not make them enough money to justify the cost of building it, according to a city report.

The company had been in exclusive negotiations with City Hall since September 2009, and had just released a draft environmental impact report for the project, an expensive study that looks at traffic, pollution and other impacts caused by the development.

It backed out months after the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. purchased the company for $2.6 billion.

AMC may be pulling back from existing deals because it’s seen the success that smaller, boutique theaters have had, said Agata Kaczanowska, an entertainment industry analyst with IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based industry research firm.

The company has “quite a lot of capital to work with” since its purchase and needs to figure out how best to invest, Kaczanowska said.

Successful theaters have a common thread — they provide an experience that people can’t get at home. With high definition and even three-dimension televisions available for purchase, it’s up to theaters to find new ways to appeal to consumers.

It will also have an impact on the size of theaters, Kaczanowska said.

“It will mean smaller theaters because they’re more customized,” she said. “They’ll have bigger seats, may have service during the show and really amenities that people aren’t going to have at a normal theater.”

IBISWorld expects that the theater industry will see success in these strategies. It’s expected to grow 2 percent in 2013, and an average of 1.3 percent each year for the next five.

In comparison, per capita disposable income is expected to grow 1.7 percent in 2013, Kaczanowska said.

 

 

ashley@smdp.com

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