Building its fourth Santa Monica theater at Fourth Street at Arizona Avenue doesn't make financial sense, AMC has told city officials.
The theater was the city's pick to open on the public property where Parking Structure 3 stands today, mainly because it already operates all three cinemas on the Third Street Promenade and planned to eliminate some seats at an existing location.
The City Council requested bids from interested companies for a new movie theater at the site in 2007. It picked AMC in 2009.
AMC proposed erecting a 70,000-square-foot theater with 2,167 seats, plus restaurant and lounge space open to the public. A study found the new theater would increase traffic in downtown.
But AMC's withdraw doesn't mean the city is giving up on its plans to open a new theater. Leaders believe the existing cinemas are outdated and want to lure more visitors with IMAX screens and stadium seating.
"This is Santa Monica, we're in the middle of the movie industry, and we're not living up to the potential here," Robert O. York, a consultant for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. said in the district's winter newsletter.
In a report to the City Council, planning staffers said they want to the OK to enter into negotiations with other development teams. They believe they might still be able to reduce the number of theater seats elsewhere in downtown because the planning department gave approval in November to change the zoning on land where the 1,500-seat Criterion 6 currently operates to "general retail use."
"If the approved conversion to retail ultimately occurs, it would result in a 27 percent reduction in the number of cinema seats downtown," the report states.