Dear Vista, Why Can’t You Be More Arclight?

Loyal readers will know that I go out of my way to avoid any theater that isn’t The Arclight, mostly because they all suck in comparison. Every once and a while the movie industry spits on me by making me go somewhere else to see a film. I’m in that situation right now since Borat isn’t playing at the Arclight. It is playing at the Vista however and since my mid week, mid day trip to see Snakes On A Plane at the Vista wasn’t that terrible I figured I’d give it a shot since Borat is playing there. Caryn and I decided that we’d hit up the 9:30 PM show last night but since The Vista offers no options for buying tickets anywhere except in person at the box office, this meant I needed to go there during the day at some point and purchase some myself. The first showing was at 4:30 PM so around 4:15 I decided to head over. A sad but crucial part of this story is that I went to the theater after going to the grocery store in our backup vehicle with windows that don’t roll up. This mean I had a car full of groceries that couldn’t be locked. Not being a seasoned in the ways of Vista abuse I mistakenly assumed I could just pull up, jump out and get tickets and be on my way. No such luck. 35 minutes of driving in circles later and I finally found a spot two blocks away. Well, it was kind of a spot. Maybe it was 50% red but I was sick of driving around at this point and just wanted my damn tickets. I finally got to the box office to find the worst news yet – they only take cash there. What. The. Fuck. Isn’t it almost 2007? How can a movie theater get away with being cash only. The hole in the wall noodle shop down the street being cash only is expected, big movie theater on the corner of Sunset & Hollywood, not so much. Of course I only had a few bucks in cash on me and wasn’t able to make the purchase. So I returned to my car and gave up. I’m still sans-Borat. Oh sad day.

19 Replies to “Dear Vista, Why Can’t You Be More Arclight?”

  1. I was supposed to cover the premier of Slither at the Vista. I was VERY pregnant, and after twenty minutes of looking for parking (there wasn’t even anyone directing traffic, which is weird at a premier) I went home and emailed my editor to say “Fuck this shit.” I am never going to the Vista again.

  2. most peple living in the neighborhood know that it’s cash only and have the luxury of being able to walk…i’ll take the Vista anyday…except for opening night. i never do any movie opening night.

  3. I’m sorry, but I never understood the cult of the Arclight. You pay twice as much as you do at a normal theater and you get reserved seating and a 30 second plot summary from an usher. Big deal. It’s not worth the extra money.

    If you want to see what a premium movie theater should look like, check out the Angelika in NYC.

    As far as the Vista goes, it is by far my favorite theater in L.A. The classic architecture and the spacious legroom make for a great movie going experience. Also, I have never had a problem parking there (of course, I grew up in S.F., so I don’t freak out if I have to walk two blocks).

  4. I told you, go to the AMC at Century City. You can buy tickets on-line (for a small fee, iirc), or go to automated kiosks in the lobby or just outside the theatre and buy with your credit card.

  5. The Arclight is NOT twice the price – it is the same as many theaters and a few dollars more than others. But I would pay double (maybe triple) to miss the commercials, and I don’t understand why people don’t like the assigned seating. It means I always get to sit next to my party. (Of course, I haven’t gone out to the movies in approximately forever. But when I did, I went to the Arclight.)

  6. “You pay twice as much as you do at a normal theater”

    Maybe my math is rusty but $11 for a ticket at the arclight doesn’t seem like twice the price of the $10-11 you pay per ticket at almost every theater in town. Sure Friday and Saturday tickets are $14 at the Arclight, which, if my middle school math serves me still isn’t twice the $11 you pay at The Grove or Manns

  7. You didn’t have 5 dollars? It’s almost 2007. Doesn’t blogging give you at least that these days? Sorry, but yous hatin’ on my girl.
    I can understand the parking being offputting, but you won’t find a better theater for the price. I love the arclight as much as average comments crawler on this site, but they can’t play everything.

  8. “You didn’t have 5 dollars?”

    If I was only buying a ticket for myself I would have had the cash, sure, but I was buying for wife and friends as well and didn’t have almost $30 in cash on me at the time.

  9. tickets for the vista matinee: $5.00
    tickets anytime at arclight: $11 – $14.

    I love the vista. not just because it is in my hood, but because the bad parking and cash only helps keep it from becoming a madhouse. oh, and the leg room!

  10. Sean & Annika,

    O.K., so I may have engaged in a bit of hyperbole (though by cherry-picking numbers, I could certainly make the case: Vista matinee – $5, Arclight – $11 = more than twice the price. Vista weekend night [or for that matter, AMC Burbank] – $8.50, Arclight weekend – $14 = nearly twice the price).

    But my point still stands. I have nothing against the Arclight, but I don’t understand why it commands such loyalty. My moviegoing experience is at least as pleasent (if not more so) at other theaters, at a lower price. Arclight doesn’t seem al that special to me. I’d much rather go to the Vista.

  11. I love the Vista for what it is – a cool neighborhood theatre. I think its totally unfair to compare this single screen theatre to a multiplex like the Arclight that also has the backing of a major chain.

    But if the Vista finds itself floundering because it doesn’t stay busy enough, the management is entirely to blame.

    -Buying advance tickets is clumsy at best, especially for big shows where you might want to buy a week or two in advance. When I went to buy tix for Pirates, staff knew it would be showing there, but had no idea when tickets would be going on sale… even when they were already available.

    -Cash only is nice for businesses that largely sell low ticket items, but most people going to the movies spend $20 – $40 a pop just to get them and their date or friends in. This keeps me from visiting more than anything else – I already know parking blows when I go there… I don’t want to have to stop once befor just to get cash.

    -They may not be able to solve the parking problem over all, but they could a. create a deal with a nearby lot, b. offer valet on busier nights (and rake in some extra cash in the process), c. provide a couple spots or lobby for short term parking for customers who want to grab advance tickets.

    But there’s no hating here – the theatre is gorgeous, the legroom can’t be beat, and the staff is always friendly and fun.

  12. Sam and I saw Borat at the Mann’s Chinese (Hollywood and Highland) in Hollywood last night. Parking was a breeze, no wait for tickets (and they take credit cards) and we had time for a slice of pizza before (thus missing the commercials). Also the added benefit was that much of the Hollywood parts of the film are shot right outside the Chinese Theater, so it was extra fun to be watching the movie at the same place where part of it was filmed. The Chinese is not much farther west than Arclight, so I’d suggest you try it next time.

  13. If you need to quickly buy tickets at the Vista, just pull your car in to the alley right next to the box office. It takes two seconds to hop over and buy tickets and get back in your car.

    I love the Vista and its policy on not selling online. I love that even on the opening night of a big movie I can still walk over and get in. I love that the theatre is filled with fun, smart people who laugh in all the right places. I love its look, its design, and its amazing prices. I love that it’s not corporate. Let’s keep it that way.

  14. I heart the Arclight, but as a neighborhood one screener, the Vista cannot be beat. Yes, parking sucks and they only take cash. Get there early and bring cash. That’s why the line moves quickly. The glorious leg room, the beautiful old timey interior, and the cartoon before the feature make for a unique movie going experience.

    Did you really think you can do any errand in LA with groceries in the car? Come on…get the milk home. It’s hot out.

    BTW, the Angelika in NYC, LOOKS great, but you hear the subway rumble by every few minutes.

  15. thank you samba00! the arclight isn’t all that especially at the price. completely overrated.

    the arclight is to movies what pinks is to hot dogs.

  16. Sean, honestly, you’re just annoyed you didn’t get the member points right? And the family thing is a strong detail. “You didn’t have 30 bucks?” isn’t as obnoxious. Well, within 10 years it might.

    Now that you experienced the limitations of the Vista, you can be prepared for the next time. Don’t count her out, she’s a grand ole’ gal.

  17. I gotta put out my word for the Vista lovin’ here- I’ve always felt it’s a fantastic theatre; I just accept it’s a cash only place, and give myself some extra time for parking. I’ve never bought tickets way in advance there, so I can’t say much to that, but I love the architecture, the legroom, and the crowds always have the best energy/ambiance.

  18. Apples to oranges. The Vista is a great place for the “old skool” cinema-going experience and all that suggests. But based on convenience, parking, refreshments, location (alas, it’s more centrally located) and overall experience, I’d pay twice The Grove’s – or anyone else’s – prices.

    And, really, THAT’s a topic that will unite instead of divide: where does The Grove rank in worst cinemas? I say 2nd worst, first being just about anywhere on 3rd St. Promenade.

  19. The Arclight is a soulless, megamall, virtual reality tank (except the cinerama dome, which is a cool piece of hollywood history). The Vista is the oldest movie theater in LA, a ten-minute walk from my house, and unlike Mann’s Chinese, you can see handprints of true celebrities, like Ray Harryhausen and Mary Woronov. Whoever wrote the original post was just trying to get responses. No way can anyone honestly prefer a phony prefab theater over a classic movie palace. And the Angelika in New York? Some of the theaters are too small for puppet shows, it’s overpriced, and a subway train shakes your seat every other minute!

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