ATTENDANCE at multiplexes nationwide may be down, but one Los Angeles theater is bucking the trend. Regency's Fairfax Cinemas has been gaining momentum over the last six months as a destination theater. The draw? Three-dollar tickets. The theater, at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue -- right near the Pacific Theatres at the Grove's 14 screens -- was formerly a Laemmle art house.
And when it became available late last year, the Calabasas-based Regency Theatres chain jumped at the opportunity to add an additional three screens to its second-run empire (62 screens in three states).
Since then, cinephiles of all stripes have discovered the joys of seeing second-run films such as "Babel" in a historic Los Angeles theater for less than most pay to park at the ArcLight. Regency co-owner Lyndon Golin is hoping he can keep pulling in thrifty movie buffs, even though he just doubled the price of admission for evening showings (daytime tickets are still $3).
"It's a [business] model that relies on volume," Golin says. It's also a model that's been tried in that very spot -- Cineplex offered cheap second-run bills in the '80s. But Golin, 41, seems to have timing on his side -- along with smart film choices and juicy, loss-leading $1 hot dogs. "It's a labor of love," he sighs. "But it's a great location in a very strong moviegoing area."
-- CHARLIE AMTER