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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Downtown History: Landsun theater has kept its charm

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(Brienne Green – Daily Press)

Artesia’s local movie theater has been owned and operated by many different companies and businesses since its construction in 1947.

Passed from one company to another, each one made “the LandSun” just a little better while keeping its charm. It is very different today from the theater of 1947, but it retains quite a bit of its retro feel with the old-fashioned neon lights, red velvet curtains, and very accurate replica marquee.

The marquee that adorns the front of the LandSun is a carefully created replica by the city’s design team. Using pictures and original pieces as guides, a marquee was constructed that was identical to the original one. Attempts were made to find the original marquee, and ultimately, it was found! However, it was found in a recycle receipt from the local scrap yard.

Originally, the LandSun had two stories, one giant screen, and more than 350 seats. In 1980, it was decided that, while beautiful, it was no longer practical for movie goers. The decision was made to split the screen in half with a wall, creating two theaters from one.

While the amount of overall seats decreased, having two screens meant more people could watch more movies. This was a very clever solution to needing more room. Sadly, the balcony was closed to the public due to safety concerns. Behind the seats of the balcony are the projection rooms. Old film sits on shelves with computer servers. The large, silver, metal film canisters have been replaced by cardboard boxes filled with digital media. Two functioning 35mm projectors still sit in the projection rooms. The “new” projectors were installed in 1976.

What used to be a second concession stand on the second floor is now just a manager’s office and storage space. The carpets are still the lush red of the original. And while it may just be a manager’s office now, it’s a very pretty manager’s office.

The original theater may have been magnificent, with its single giant screen and two stories of seating, but the theater now is much more practical for both customers and the business. It may not be as majestic as it once was, but it is much more humble and cozy – great things for a local theater to be.

The outside still appears large and grandiose, keeping with its historical, flashy style, but the bright neon lights and large red sign hide a humble two-screen theater with a high-tech retro finish. The most recent requisitioner, AMC, updated the concession stand. They introduced self-serving drink machines that serve more than 100 combinations of drinks and an updated menu. They kept the old concession cabinets intact, helping to keep some of the retro charm.

AMC, like many other owners before them, has done a good job of keeping the theater relevant, while also keeping the hometown charm.

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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