Large Scale Problems
Cannery Row IMAX theater shuttered as owner sues partner.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Hopes were high for Cannery Row’s IMAX Theatre when Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala cut the ribbon on the nearly $8 million big-format movie house in 2008.
Now, the theater is shuttered, and its owner, Chicago-based Bella Cinema, has filed a $16.9 million federal lawsuit against its partner, the IMAX corporation.
“We put our heart and soul into this development,” says Bella Cinema CEO Fred Weinert. But he says the company “never stood with us… we feel we had to take this action.”
IMAX’s failure to fulfill its promises caused the theater to flounder, according to the lawsuit filed Nov. 24.
IMAX promised to bring blockbusters like Avatar and Dark Knight to Monterey’s giant screen in 3-D, but the company delivered up to three months later than the films’ original release, long after fans spent their ticket money elsewhere, Weinert alleges in his complaint.
The company had the means to deliver, Weinert says, because it showed the films upon their release in its company-owned theater in Sacramento.
The lawsuit also accuses IMAX of delivering faulty equipment that broke down less than a week after the Cannery Row theater’s opening and continued to fail. It says the company reneged on a promise to train the theater’s lead projectionist, and failed to help negotiate partnerships with the Monterey Bay Aquarium that Weinert says would have boosted theater attendance by offering aquarium goers discounted IMAX tickets.
Such a relationship would have been a natural, Weinert notes, considering the tie-ins with IMAX films like Sea Monsters 3-D or Sharks 3-D.
A call to IMAX’s Ontario, Canada, headquarters was not returned.
Weinart says he’s seeking other potential partners so he can re-open the theater as soon as possible.