Movie theaters at Palo Alto Square close permanently

The entrance to the CineArts theaters at Palo Alto Square. Post file photo.

By the Daily Post staff

The twin CineArts theaters at the Palo Alto Square office complex at Page Mill Road and El Camino Real in Palo Alto will be closing permanently, a casualty of the Covid pandemic at a time when consumers are increasingly turning to streaming services to watch movies.

The theaters were closed during the pandemic and will not be reopening. The theaters’ owner, CineMark of Plano, Texas, has literally returned the keys to the landlord, Hudson Pacific Properties.

The closure, which city officials learned about last month, comes five years after CineMark threatened to close the theaters because it couldn’t afford tenant improvements the landlord was requiring. More than 2,500 residents signed a petition to keep the theaters open. With pressure from city hall, a new lease was negotiated that allowed the theaters to stay.

This time, CineMark says its decision is final.

“Century (Theatres, a sister company of CineArts) does not make this decision lightly, but given the unprecedented and tragic circumstances, Century has made this difficult decision,” wrote Paul Ledbetter, vice president and real estate counsel to Century and Cinemark. “As you are aware, Century and the theater exhibition industry as a whole faced a particularly acute challenge stemming from the Covid-19 outbreak due to the various local, state and federal mandates specifically requiring the closure of public motion pictures.”

“While such mandates were wise and prudent given the situation, it unfortunately resulted in economic hardships and unintended consequences for Century that has led to this decision,” Ledbetter said in a letter to Hudson Pacific.

Cinemark is one of the nation’s top three movie exhibitors with 523 locations and 4,630 screens.

Cinemark representatives didn’t return phone calls about the closure, but the National Association of Theater Owners estimates that about 125 exhibitors have closed permanently due to the pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cinemark plans to continue operating other theaters in the area such as Century Cinema 16 and Redwood City Downtown 20.


  1. What about a community run movie theater, with an all-volunteer board and staff? We could get the city to force the landlord to rent it for free and pay for the electricity.

    • Hey Katie, you might want to check out this thing called the Bill of Rights. I don’t know if you were aware, but the 5th amendment there says the government literally cannot take someone’s property without compensation. It would do you some good to look back at your civics class notes.

  2. Why not force ALL landlords to rent their properties for free and pay for electricity? While you’re at it, also force all grocery stores to give out their groceries for free, and force all gas stations to give out gas for free. Force everybody to do everything for free. Free internet, free cars, free insurance, free doctors. What a wonderful world it would be! And imaginary.

  3. When I came to menlo park in 1972 between menlo park and palo alto we had 10 or 11 movie theaters within out stanford borders. Now the death nell has sounded. long before the pandemic cine mark had be slated to close for ages but managed to stay open this long until the corona virus forced to close it for good. There is one movie theater left and that is the Guild Theater in Menlo Park. If that closes we will have to all the way to Redwood City south or Mountain View north. Hard to be the century 12 move theater at Pete’s Harbor near K Mart used to start out as a drive in no more. One by one so sad all our local movie houses have fallen down And like dominoes. At what started killing all these movie places the internet and movie rental places.

  4. Another factor to my mind is that some movie theaters such as the new ICON in Mountain View and the Century Cinema 16 on Shoreline do not have, or have stopped using, a marquee to announce movies.As I drive by I might see a movie I’d read about and think, “Oh, yes, I want to see that.” Now, nothing prompts me to do so; and I only occasionally look for listings online. It seems like a poor decision by whatever theater owners or government officials have prompted this change.

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