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It’s a horribly written article. The writer was apparently too busy talking to anyone else to get even a “no comment” from someone directly involved in the topic they were writing about, and does nothing to put any kind of business spin on the proceedings. Sure, having the Village closed for even a week would be sad, but no exhibitor has ever willingly walked away from a profitable location.
If you supposed Los Angeles movie theatre fans really wanted to keep the Village and the Bruin (and the Crest for that matter) open, you’d make regular and consistent efforts to seeing movies at these theatres. And if Westwood Village wanted to help keep them open, they’d build bigger and better parking structures and let the theatres offer affordable validated parking. Otherwise, Westwood will become like Beverly Hills, with only one functional commercial movie theatre left, and one that doesn’t really inspire people to go to the movies.
While it was shot in Europe with a mostly British cast and crew, The Lion in Winter was produced by the American company Avco Embassy. The Avco Embassy library has changed hands many times over the decades, and the rights to the film are currently owned not by an American company or a British company but in fact are owned by the French entertainment conglomerate StudioCanal.
But to get back to the topic at hand…
It will take years, and maybe even decades, for film to disappear from the majority of commercial, first-run movie theatres. As someone who works in exhibition, I see first hand every day I work how little the average filmgoer cares about digital projection or even digital 3D. Over the past couple months, we have played 2D and 3D versions of Up, Ice Age 3 and G-Force at my theatre, and the attendance between the 2D and 3D is about evenly split. In fact, quite a number of people do not want to pay the added surcharge for 3D.
My theatre has 14 screens between two locations a block apart from each other. Of those 14 screens, only one is equipped with a digital projector. If this conversation had happened two months ago, I would have said three had digital projectors, but we pulled two of them out due to a dispute with a provider (I still don’t understand quite what happened) and there are no plans to put any new digital projectors in somewhere down the line. There is no rush to add more digital projectors, because the public has shown little interest in it. 35mm is fine for most people, and its not due to some aesthetic expectations. Most people just don’t see the difference.
Granted, I spent less than two years with Cineplex, from July 1991 to June 1993, but I’d like to correct some of Ms. Rhule’s errors above. The Loews/Cineplex merger happened in 1998, not 1991. In 1992, Cineplex did threaten to lock out the union projectionists, and many of the Cineplex assistant and general managers were sent to the Marina Marketplace to train as projectionists should the lockout occur. I had run my own booths during my four years at United Artists (1986-1990), so I ended up helping out with the teaching, but the lockout thankfully never materialized. Of all the years I have worked in exhibition (23 years and counting), the two years at Cineplex were the only time I have ever had union projectionists, and I was damn glad to have them.
As for the theatre itself, it was a minor version of the Universal City complex, which had opened the year earlier. A nice theatre, overall, and one I continued to enjoy attending even after I left Cineplex. I love that it has those huge windows in the lobby to let in natural light… although I am certain they can be a distraction to the concessionists who have to work near them when the sun is setting. I haven’t been there in a good 14 or 15 years, but it looks like it held up well.
The author of this post says “Without Blair Witch, there wouldn’t be a ‘Cloverfield.’” Does the author have any proof to this, or is this just more fanboy conjecture?
From everything I have read, seen and heard, Cloverfield’s development had no influence from Blair Witch, in inspiration or anything else. The basic concept of the movie came from a visit to a toy store in Japan when J.J. Abrams was promoting MI3, and he saw all the Godzilla toys in the store. He thought it would be great if America had its own Godzilla-like monster. Other movies that helped inspire Cloverfield include Escape from New York (the film’s poster shows the head of the Statue of Liberty laying in the middle of a Manhattan street), Them! and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. And the film’s handheld camera style is not influenced by Blair Witch but from the millions of user-submitted videos on sites like YouTube. Unless, of course, the author is subliminally suggesting we wouldn’t have YouTube if it weren’t for Blair Witch. :)
OR… it could just be that people weren’t that excited about this one movie being in 3D. I manage a theatre with Digital 3D, and I still get people coming up asking for Up in 3D, even though we haven’t had it in 3D for more than two weeks now. And even if G-Force doesn’t do all that well it won’t prove any cooling trend. Now, if Final Destination and Toy Story 1 & 2 and The Nightmare Before Christmas and Avatar all don’t do all that well in 3D, then we can say audiences are starting to cool on 3D. But one film does not a trend make.
This theatre was built by Mann Theatres and opened in 1981. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark there for the first time shortly after it opened.
In all the years I went to the movies at the 41st Avenue Playhouse (starting with Blade Runner in 1982), to the years I worked there as an assistant manager (1986-1989) to the last time I visited there a month or so ago, it always had three screens.
In the #1 house during my years there, there was still a Sensurround speaker behind the screen. It might still be there, for all I know. It was no longer functional by then, and I never got a straight answer as to why it was still there long after the rest of the Sensurround system had been pulled.
Good times. Good memories. And a few stories I still can’t talk about publicly.
Godspeed, Gary Culver. It was a pleasure knowing you, even if I barely knew you.
Crazy that Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in not on the list. I love the Cinerama Dome and moved into the area I live in so I can walk to both, but I’d rather see a film at the Chinese before I would see it at the Dome.
The Beverly Center was also where Universal and DTS quietly tested the latter’s disc-based digital sound system on several titles between the fall of 1992 and the spring of 1993. If you saw Mr. Baseball, The Public Eye, CB4, Mad Dog and Glory, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story or several other Universal releases that played at the Beverly Center during this time, you got to experience DTS before it went public with Jurassic Park.
Side note: That first DTS test unit from 1992 is still in use at the Beverly Center to this day.
To answer UFO two and a half years later…
I never got the chance to go to the Bleecker Street Cinemas. Being Los Angeles born and bred, what I knew about New York City in the 1970s and 1980s came from watching Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese movies. When I finally did move to New York City in 2001, the theatre was long gone, although I did make a pilgrimage to the site the day after I moved in to my crappy little railroad apartment in Bed-Stuy, and I learned a bit more about the theatre from “Toxic Avenger” director Lloyd Kaufman from the years I worked for him at Troma.
And to touch on something LorenzoRodriguez said in 2007…
I don’t think New Yorkers cinephiles mindlessly line up at the zooplex. For the four years I lived in New York City (Brooklyn 2001-2003, Yorkville 2003-2005), I would regularly go to BAM or Film Forum or Cinema Village or the Quad and see packed houses for revival titles, documentaries, avant-garde, indie and foreign films. I would walk around the neighborhood with my wife and see good crowds going to the UA East 85th for the types of movies that wouldn’t play at the Orpheum 7 or the East 86th around the corner.
I honestly think a theatre like the Bleecker could exist today, provided it was operated by a movie lover with very deep pockets. Theatres like the Bleecker closed not because the audiences abandoned them, but because the greed of the people who owned the buildings that housed the theatres who would jack up the rents for the theatre to a price that no longer made economical sense to continue operating. It’s what happened to the Bleecker eighteen years ago, it’s what happened to the Two Boots Pioneer Theatre eighteen weeks ago.
For crying out loud, didn’t we just go through this with the Senator last year? I’ve never been to Baltimore, never been to the Senator, but I made a donation to their recent “Save the Senator” fund-drive anyway, because I hate to see a grand old theatre go bye-bye. But if they have to come hat in hand again this quickly, then it just ain’t being run very well.
Thank you, gentrification!
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Pioneer as a movie theatre (I generally hate anything small boxy theatres with no ambiance) but they had some of the best alternate programming I’ve ever seen. I’d love to run a theatre like it in Los Angeles, if I had deeper pockets and a better space to do it in.
When I was a manager with UATC in Santa Cruz and San Jose the late 80s, this was where we had to go for our manager meetings. I hated going there for a variety of reasons, mostly because the theatre had no soul. The only thing I remotely liked about the place was those long hallways that separated the lobby from the auditoriums. It wasn’t done for aesthetic reasons, I know, but they did drown out the cacophony from the hub.
I knew this theatre wouldn’t last when the district offices moved from the Metro Center to the theatre in Emeryville, which also robbed me of my nice drive up Highway 1 from Santa Cruz into the city.
The only movie I specifically remember seeing in the big house at the original Lakewood Center Theatre was Rocky III. I don’t know why that’s the only one that stands out, as I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the film, but it is what it is. Memory is a funny thing. I remember walking in to that auditorium and being astounded by how massive it was. Growing up in Long Beach in the 70s and 80s, we had lost most of the classic single screen houses downtown, and the Belmont had already been turned in to a racquetball club, so the big houses at the UA Marketplace 6, which sat maybe 500, were what was big to me at the time. So that #1 house at the Lakewood Center Theatre was just mindblowing.
I did end up going back to the Lakewood Center 16 one in the late 1990s after its grand reopening. Pushing Tin was playing in one of the smaller, newer houses, but I peeked in to that big house. It was still pretty big, but it just didn’t have the same charm as before. Changes done in the name of progress rarely improve what was already a good thing.
Frankly, I’m surprised this place lasted as long as it did, after the opening of the 16 screens up the parking lot.
I TAP’d this theatre a couple times during the late 1990s, and while there was never anything ever wrong with the place on a technical level during my visits, I hated going there because it just had zero charm.
DTS was tested on several titles at the Cineplex Odeon Beverly Center in 1992 and 1993 (where I was an assistant manager at the time) before its official debut with Jurassic Park. I don’t remember every title we tested, but I do remember Mr. Baseball and The Public Eye were the first two titles we tested, and I seem to remember Matinee and CB4 also being tested.
The next movie scheduled to play the Chinese is M. Night Shymalan’s The Happening.
Ah, the Sash Mill. How much you are missed. Like Gary, most of my friends and I would also have a Sash Mill calendar on our fridge or in our rooms, with the shows we were going to see circled so we didn’t forget. I never kept a diary of the films I saw there, but it would easily be in the hundreds (and that’s not including all the times we watched or performed RHPS).
The snack bar for the theatre was cozy, had a great selection of traditional and non-traditional snacks… and a little black and white monitor secured over the snack bar, with a tinny little speaker next to it, so you didn’t miss a moment of the movie should you absolutely need to get some stuff during the presentation. Now there’s something you won’t find in very many theatres today.
I will have to disagree with Jean, however, about her statement “This was just before VCRs were common.” By the time I graduated from Aptos High in 1985, everyone I knew had a VCR, a couple of us worked at video stores, and it was rare if we weren’t going to the Sash at least once a week (again, not including RHPS). Well into the 1990s, when we were buying and renting our laserdiscs at Lenz Arts, we were still going to the Sash on a consistent basis. I was living in Los Angeles when the Sash finally closed in 1994, so I didn’t get to go to the last show, but I know a lot of thirty and fortysomethings who miss the place dearly.
For the record, the address for the Sash was 303 Potrero St #35, Santa Cruz CA 95060
Fantastic news! Of all the theatres I have managed since 1986, this was by far my favorite. Very few modern multiplexes can match the excitement of seeing a movie on a massive 50-foot plus wide screen.
Sorry, my mistake. It was the AMC Century 15 that showed Da Vinca in 4K.
The Dome is 4k capable… or at least was two years ago. The Da Vinci Code was shown in 4k at the Dome.
Fact of the matter is, any owner of a theatre building will continue to support that theatre’s existence as long as they feel it is bringing in the highest amount of revenue possible. We are losing many of these single screen theatres nationwide (whether they remained single screens or were converted to multiple screens) because they simply cannot generate the revenue needed for them to survive, and we’re going to continue to see these theatres fall to the wayside for years to come.
I loved the NuWilshire as much as anyone. It was my home for two years, and I did everything I could (sometimes against the wishes of my superiors at Landmark) to make our customers feel we cared about them and were grateful they were coming to our theatre instead of the AMC Century 14 or Laemmle Sunset 5 (the two theatres we most often shared product with while I was there). I got there just after Landmark ended its one year experiment as a programmed calendar (a companion to the Nuart) and made it a first-run arthouse. I would have loved to do those calendars, and having been there when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit and closed us down for three months, I would have loved to see them knock that fucking wall down and turn it back into a single.
But it was not meant to be.
If Landmark hadn’t taken the theatre when Mann exited in 1992, we wouldn’t be sitting here lamenting its 2007 shuttering.
We’d have lost it then.
Be thankful we got another 15 years with the theatre, and make sure you thank her for all those wonderful additional memories every time you pass by her.
Remind me again which movie I can see today at Radio City or the New Amsterdam or the Beacon or Studio 54.
Someone might want to change the address to 10990 Woodside Avenue North, as 10990 Woodside Avenue puts you on the wrong side of the freeway in Google Maps.