Claremont Laemmle’s Likely Goodbye


Melina Tisopulos

Laemmle Theater remains open for the time being

The Laemmle Theaters, established in 1938, is instantly recognizable by the majority of Claremonters as a place of both nostalgia and anticipation. The plaza’s location’s floating neon sign and retro hand-placed movie titles make it a symbol of the Claremont Village, whether it be to premiere the latest blockbuster or to find inspiration through foriegn film. Unfortunately, the Claremont theater is likely to close for good.
The property is currently in escrow with an idea to turn the first floor into an organic market with outdoor seating, and the second floor as a set of restaurants with an added rooftop patio and bar.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may seem culprit for its likely closing, the reasons vary to more complex causes. The Laemmles’ specialize in showcasing arthouse films, an underground genre that focuses on creative storytelling rather than commercialized plots, often produced by independent and international filmmakers.
“Claremont is lagging a little bit relative to other venues,” Robert Laemmle said in an interview with the Claremont Courier. “The response to arthouse films is still not exactly what we would like to see.”
What is unfortunate is Hollywood’s power to drown out any films not produced by them, dominating the market with movies lacking the experimental nature the Laemmle provides, limiting the voices of ArtHouse filmmakers. Hopefully, more socially diverse patterns of ownership will arise and help create conditions for adventurous and varied media productions.
Another factor contributing to the lack of audience is the availability of streaming services, where the abundance and ease in film-watching outweighs the physical experience of attending the cinema. Most popular movies are promptly uploaded to streaming services after their month long theater premiere, having people choose to wait and watch at home.
Losing the Claremont Laemmle is a physical impact of these unfortunate business dynamics. What’s more, it will be a loss to the Village community, as it is a special place that the majority of Claremonters feel as irreplaceable.
“Our business has been wracked,” Laemmle said. “We are in discussions to sell the property, though nothing is final at this point. This was not the plans.”