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Larchmont Playhouse Deal In Jeopardy Pending Regal Cinema Restrictions

A grassroots effort is behind the effort to save Larchmont Playhouse.
A grassroots effort is behind the effort to save Larchmont Playhouse. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- The deal to save Larchmont Playhouse could potentially die on the vine because of conditions being made by Regal Entertainment.

According to Ellen Zuckert, a Larchmont resident who has been leading the charge to save the beloved community institution, Regal, the owner of New Roc Cinemas, has the power to prevent the Playhouse from showing first-run movies (among other things). The restriction makes it almost impossible to run a sustainable theater.

According to details posted on the change.org site where Elizabeth Bradley, co-chair of the efforts to save the theater, has posted a petition, Regal, after it absorbed United Artists Cinema, became the owner of the Playhouse but sold it in 2015. The restrictive clause -- which lasts for an unprecedented 15 years – was only created two years ago at the time of the sale to a developer in Texas.

The anticompetitive provision allows Regal, in addition to prohibiting first-run movies, to also prevent any new owner of the playhouse from changing the worn, outdated seats, from serving wine at a new café and could even forbid moviegoers from bringing pillows and blankets into the theater (among many other overreaching restrictions).

She said there was still a chance -- albeit before Monday, Jan. 16. -- that Regal can show it can be community-minded and a friend to many residents in Larchmont, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle who frequent both the Larchmont Playhouse and New Roc -- by lifting the clause.

It's why Bradley posted the petition asking local residents to ask Regal to lift the restriction immediately so that the planned sale to Bronxville resident Michael DiCosimo can go through (see earlier Daily Voice story HERE .)

DiCosimo, a longtime professional focusing on sound in film and theaters, wants to buy the theater, renovate it with the financial investment help of the community, and run it as a dynamic, first-run movie theater. But he will walk away from the deal if Regal won't lift the clause.'

Any future buyer would also face the same restriction, rendering the Playhouse inoperable as a first-run theater, the way it has been since its opening day in 1933.

"We cannot let this happen. Too many neighborhood movie theaters already have been lost – the theater in Mamaroneck as well as the one in Harrison," she adds.

"Let's help Michael DiCosimo save our Playhouse from a similar fate."

Zuckert added that when she spoke with the general counsel of the seller during the summer, he assured her that if the community were involved in the theater, the restriction wouldn’t apply.

"Unfortunately, neither the seller nor Regal has stood by that promise. And the refusal by both Regal and the seller to lift the restriction could cause the deal to fall apart.

"We don’t want to litigate this — I feel as though that’s not a great use of the community’s resources. But if it comes to that we’ll try to find a law firm that will take this on pro bono."

Go HERE to sign; and, stressed Zuckert -- "share, share, share!"

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