Business owners concerned red carpet negatively impacts sales
By Sam Catanzaro
Movie premiers are a defining part of Westwood Village’s identity, but despite the attention the red carpet brings to the neighborhood, local business owners are voicing concern that the added activity negatively their businesses.
“Movie premieres gave a lot of cash to theaters,” said Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association (WVIA). “[However], consumers can’t come to stores due to closed streets and limited capacity of parking.”
WVIA is the non-profit tasked with improving the state of the Westwood Village Business Improvement District. Thomas was speaking at the April 18 WVIA committee meeting and noted that Westwood Village hosts around 24 movie premiers per year. While Thomas acknowledged that premiers can have a positive impact on businesses, the bottom line is that many stores lose revenue due to the closed streets that accompany the red carpet.
“Businesses are losing their revenues due to movie premieres,” Thomas said. “All I know is our businesses take financial hits and they need compensation to recover from that.”
One of these businesses impacted by movie premiers is California Pizza Kitchen, located at 1001 Broxton Avenue. Speaking at the April 18 WVIA meeting Ismael Ibarra, kitchen manager at CPK, said that while these events can have a positive effect on the Westwood Village community, the restaurant has seen a drop in revenue in the past as a result of premiers.
“It’s good for the community, but sometimes we lost business because streets got closed,” Ibarra said.
In addition to exploring the idea of compensating businesses for revenue lost due to movie premieres, Thomas said at the meeting that stakeholders in the community need to be given ample notice of upcoming premiers so they can plan accordingly.
It’s Boba Time, located on Weyburn Avenue, is an example of a business inconvienced by lack of notice surrounding a premier. Kevin Guaz, a senior employee of It’s Boba Time, said at the April 18 meeting that on certain occasions the store had 24 hours or less notice of a red carpet event, which is logistically challenging for the store.
“[Notice can be given] as late as one or two days before,” Guaz said. “Last time, we got noticed and closed the store in one day.”
On the other side of the debate, however, are the theaters. At the WVIA meeting, Andrew Golin, vice president of Regency Theatres located on Broxton Avenue, said that movie premiers actually benefit businesses because more people are on the streets of Westwood Village. In addition, Golin noted that it is not the theaters’ responsibility to compensate businesses.
“Overall, premieres are great for the local economy,” Golin said. “Theaters don’t pay compensation. That’s something production companies deal with.”
Golin went on to say that Regency Theatres notify merchants as soon as a movie theatre is confirmed.
Moving forward, Thomas said that the WVIA intendeds to reccomend changes in movie premier policy to reflect the concerns of stakeholders. The committee will come up with and present a set of guidelines to the board of directors in their upcoming May meeting.