Sadly, the Mann Festival Theatre closed Thursday night, and Encino-based Mann Theatres has apparently given notice that they don’t intend to renew their leases on two Broxton Avenue theaters — the Spanish Mission-style Mann Village, with its neon-lighted Fox tower, and the Mann Bruin, with its wraparound marquee, stand-alone ticket booth and open-spaced outdoor lobby. For a city already reeling from myriad exhibition problems, this is sad news.
Even if they’ve steadfastly refused to name or at least denote the theaters with what I’ve memorably seen there, and thus help me navigate the area on those evenings when my brain’s memory power has been drained by a long day, I’ve always enjoyed the communal vibe given off by Westwood’s attractive collection of single-screen movie palaces. There’s just something pleasurable about being able to bop around on foot — certainly in a festival setting, but also more generally speaking — between theaters; I have to think it helps breed curiosity in a way that mega-plexes don’t. For all the modern advantages of stadium seating and the like, there is definitely an electric quality that results from sharing darkness in these sorts of places, when a movie really goes off, and pops. Maybe it’s an audience that is sometimes a bit more forward-leaning, and savvy (college towns, urban centers and what not), but space matters too.