Now that the burgeoning LA Live — Downtown’s entertainment hub — has added a movie theater, the nearby University Village Flagship Theaters has begun worrying about its future.
The new Regal Cinema at LA Live opened two weeks ago, premiering Michael Jackson’s This is It to a crowd of hundreds. The theater boasts three floors and more than 3,500 seats, leaving Flagship’s three movie screens in the dust.
“I’d be lying if I said the competition wasn’t in the back of my mind,” said Leo Sanchez, manager of the UV’s Flagship Theaters.
Before Regal Cinema opened at LA Live, Flagship was the only option for students who wanted to see a movie without having to drive or use public transportation. But after the launch of a free shuttle to take students from campus to LA Live, moviegoers finally have another option.
Though business was already good at LA Live’s Regal Cinema, Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG, which runs LA Live, said the easy access will only help the theater grow.
“The shuttle’s going to make a big difference,” Roth said. “It’s a way for students to not have to worry about parking or eating dinner or having a drink and having to drive afterwards.”
The shuttles just launched last week, and already Flagship has seen a drop in customer turnout. Sanchez noted, however, that this could be caused by a combination of factors.
Turnout at Regal Cinema has been much more encouraging, and student opinion also seems to favor Regal.
“It’s a lot better than the UV … It’s newer, cleaner,” said Adriana Granados, a junior majoring in psychology who attended the free movie screening.
Some students said it is the atmosphere of Regal Cinema that draws them Downtown and away from the UV.
“It makes you feel like you’re actually going to the movies,” said Britney Young, a senior majoring in critical studies.
Young said the large theater setting, the food and the movie posters create a more traditional moviegoing atmosphere.
Although both offer student discounts, Flagship offers $5 tickets for those with USC ID, as opposed to $10 at Regal.
Roth said he does think Regal is creating competition for the UV Flagship Theater.
“The fact of the matter is that these are the most comfortable theaters in town,” he said. “For big events, you want to see them in the best conditions, and that’s what Regal provides.”
But Sanchez insists the Flagship Theater does offer some things the Regal Cinema does not, like its prices and close proximity to campus. Sanchez hopes these factors will keep attracting students to Flagship.
“It’s a nice little humble theater,” Sanchez said. “It only has three screens, but it’s nice and we offer very low prices.”
Sanchez said the theater will be hurt financially if a large number of students migrate to LA Live’s Regal Cinema. Though some local residents frequent the theater, he said students are the target audience.
“We serve the community, but to be quite honest, we like to accommodate students,” Sanchez said. “We want them to come here.”