Netflix takes over Bay Theater at Caruso’s Palisades Village

Netflix is taking over another classic movie theater, in its push to further its growth as a film industry force.

The streaming giant has taken over the lease of the renovated Bay Theater in Pacific Palisades, which has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic struck U.S. movie houses.

Netflix will use the theater, part of Rick Caruso’s Palisades Village retail-restaurant-residential complex, to host special events, screen classic films and showcase its own original theatrical films.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Bay Theater is Netflix’s latest foray into theatrical exhibition. The Los Gatos company in 2019 began operating the historic Paris Theatre in New York. Netflix also bought the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, which it plans to reopen in 2022 after refurbishments.

Netflix has increasingly become a major producer of movies as it looks to bolster its streaming service, typically releasing them directly to the platform rather than in theaters, or at the same time. Netflix is dipping its toe into theatrical exhibition partly to make itself more attractive to top filmmakers who want their movies shown on the big screen.

The five-screen luxury theater will reopen Oct. 22 with Jeymes Samuel’s new Western “The Harder They Fall,” which Netflix is distributing. Netflix will also offer free screenings of two of its animated family films, “Vivo” and “The Mitchells vs. The Machines.”

“The Bay is one of those rare places that’s modern but also feels like a throwback experience of your local main street cinema,” said Scott Stuber, head of global films at Netflix, in a statement.

The Bay Theater first opened in 1948, but was converted into a hardware store after its demise in 1978. Mexican theater chain Cinépolis renovated and opened the location in late 2018 as a dine-in theater with a full bar and specialized kitchen to cater to the area’s affluent locals and visitors.

Construction cost roughly $10 million, executives said at the time. The theater came as movie theater chains were investing further in luxury cinemas, with recliner seating and in-auditorium dining service to draw patrons away from their living rooms.

Under Netflix, the theater will keep the 35mm projector Cinepolis installed.

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