Roll the credits: Claremont’s Laemmle theater may close for good

A movie theater box office has a blue and white sign that reads "Laemmle Theatres Claremont 5".
Laemmle’s Claremont 5 theater may close for good. (Emma Jensen • The Student Life)

To the dismay of students and Claremont locals alike, the neon sign advertising Laemmle’s Claremont 5 may not glow much longer. The theater could be on track to shut its doors sometime this year if the sale of its property to Winfund Investment LLC is finalized.

The Claremont Courier first reported that the Rancho Cucamonga company hoped to buy the Laemmle’s property in December. The theater is in escrow — meaning it’s in the midst of being sold — though the transaction had not been finalized at the time of the Courier article’s publication. 

After the sale, the building currently housing the Laemmle would be used to house multiple restaurants, an organic market and a rooftop bar, according to the Courier.

CEO Greg Laemmle declined to comment to TSL beyond clarifying that “at this time, it does not appear that the theater is in any immediate danger of closing.” He told the Courier that the transaction “may come with a lease-back arrangement that would allow for some contingent operation of the theater into, if not well into, next year.”

Julienne Ho SC ’23 knew about the Laemmle’s possible closure because of signs outside the theater, which sits at a central location in the Claremont Village. She has frequented the Laemmle since her first year at Scripps. Her first time at the theater was on a date to a Studio Ghibli film and she watched “Venom” there this past fall.

“I think that students will get a lot less out of this new proposal than they did out of the theater,” Ho said. “There are already so many restaurants in the village, and I don’t really see this adding that much new experience.” 

Sylvie Kromer SC ’25 has been to the Laemmle multiple times, despite it being her first year at the Claremont Colleges. 

Although Kromer said a market could be a useful addition to the Village, she echoed Ho’s sentiment that “Claremont has a lot of restaurants already … and I think not having a movie theater is definitely a detractor.”

Both Kromer and Ho said that the lack of a movie theater within walking distance to campus would affect students negatively. 

“Some of my friends are Marvel nuts, so every time one of the movies comes out, they’ll … walk down like a pilgrimage,” Ho said. The Laemmle closing would mean they’d have to pile into an Uber or find some other means of transport, she added. 

“It’s a bummer,” Kromer said. “It’s a really cute little theater, I’m definitely sad to see it go.”

Eight other theaters owned by the Laemmle company remain in operation, spread across the greater Los Angeles area. 

“In addition to standard movie-going, Laemmle provides unique cinematic experiences such as one-night screenings, special events, premieres, and Academy qualifications,” the Laemmle’s website says. The company prides itself on supporting a culture of the arts and creating community.

Laemmle fans and film buffs may now join other small business devotees affected by the pandemic in reckoning with how to create community elsewhere now that their favorite haunts have closed.

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