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Westlake Village | Valley Focus

Independent, 2-Screen Theater Shuts Down

November 09, 1996|KATE FOLMAR

Crowded out by an ever-increasing number of multiplexes, another independent movie theater closed its doors for good.

The two-screen Westlake Village Theater nestled in the County Line shopping plaza shut down Tuesday. Owners feared it would be unable to compete with the new Mann's eight-screen theater that opened this week a few blocks away.

The small theater left only a sign inside the box-office glass as an explanation: "Closed Permanently. Thank You for Your Patronage Over the Years."

Inside the theater sat two orange, metal canisters labeled with the film title "Phenomenon." Butterfingers and Red Vines waited in a glass display case.

Although theater representatives could not be reached for comment, a manager had predicted that high rents, low attendance and the multiplex craze would spell the end of the small movie house at the intersection of Agoura and Lakeview Canyon roads.

"I know our closing is imminent," manager Anne Ball said in an interview three months ago when the second-run Melody Theatre showed its last movie.

The closure of the Westlake Village Theater took the shopping plaza's patrons and workers by surprise.

At the Dog Grooming Studio two doors down, worker Tami Lopez said: "As far as we knew, it was running fine. The next thing we knew, it was closed."

Comparing it with the new Mann's theater just blocks away, Lopez asked, "Who wants to go to a little, dinky one when you've got eight screens down the street?"

En route to a hairdressing appointment in the plaza, Louise Thull saw it differently.

"I think it's a shame that all the movie theaters in all the strip malls are putting the small businesses out of business," the former teacher said. "We'll be over-movie-theatered pretty soon."

Gazing at the darkened lobby, she added: "What we need is more avant-garde movie places. . . . We have more than enough Rambos and those types of movies."

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