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“1-story retail with rooftop parking”? What a useless waste. Why couldn’t it at least be something halfway respectable, like offices, apartments, or mixed use?
I remember watching trailers for Cat People, D.C. Cab, and Rumble Fish on one of those monitors at the Topanga Plaza. I might be wrong about this, but I think they might have been installed by Universal, seeing as all the trailers were for their movies.
P.S.—Bummer about the National. My wish for Santa this year is to find out that it is only being remodeled and Robert Redford is turning it into one of those Sundance theaters he was supposed to open.
Thanks for the excellent article. Has anyone who posts here ever been in that Premiere Room? Also, does anyone know if the ladies room remained the same over the years. The photo in the article looks pretty fancy. I guess one of us should have snuck in to take a pic.
To all those that showed up, let’s think of that last Thursday night screening of Shooter as the true final night of this great theatre. We gave it a proper farewell, and though the film was mediocre at best, the sound was cranked up and it looked great on that big screen.
Seeing Feast of Love at the National would have brought back none of the fond memories we all have. In fact, it’s the type of film that actually is hurt by playing in such a cavernous theatre.
I just wish I had gotten tickets for that Transformers screening.
It looks like the structure is about to be torn down. The furniture store has vacated and they’ve put a barrier around it. It makes sense that it would be the first structure to be demolished to make way for the Westfield “Village,” the planned connector between the Topanga Plaza and the Promenade Mall.
I guess I’ll have to give up my pipe dream of it being bought and reopened by a benevolent billionare.
I’m equally amazed about “Yor,” but I would use my time machine to go back and see “Phantom of the Paradise.”
I also can’t believe how long some of those 70’s titles ran. And they say that the theatre is empty now! It must have been a ghost town in the 11th week of “Lost Horizon” or the 7th week of “I Love My Wife.”
As for the other news, we’ve now got a year to stop it. Does anyone have a plan, beyond kidnapping UCLA students and forcing them to walk the two extra blocks from the Village and Bruin?
There is an ad in today’s L.A. Times for “The Ex” that lists “Mann National” as one of the theatres it is opening in on Friday. Is this a misprint? Does this mean that Mann has gotten another extension on the lease, or is now sub-leasing it from “Simms Entertainment.” WTF!?!
Perhaps it’s naive to think of him as some sort of potential savior, but do you think that Spielberg could do anything to save the National (beyond outright buying it)? I say this because so many of his films have played there. Beyond the Indiana Jones films, Empire of the Sun and Saving Private Ryan also (and perhaps others as well).
I would assume that Spielberg is the type that would have some interest in where his films play (particularly on the west side of L.A. where he lives). The fact that Empire of the Sun played at the National instead of the Village (at a time when most Warner Bros. films played at the Village or Bruin) makes me think that maybe he has some love for the National.
Also, wouldn’t this be the perfect time to update the National? Close it down this year, remodel and update it, and then re-open it with a week of 70mm presentations of the first three Indiana Jones films, leading up to the premiere of the 4th one. As much as I would hate to see the old 70’s decor go, I would rather have an open and operating National than none at all. Not to mention that, considering it has been so long since the last one, Paramount would be smart to re-release the first three. One of the reasons why the Star Wars prequels were so successful is that the younger generation had been primed for them by the re-release of the first three films. Paramount might not want to do something as large scale, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to run the first three for a week or so in one or two theatres in all the major cities to prepare viewers for the fourth one.
I’m still intrigued by the idea that there is something else going on here besides just the high cost of the lease. Is Mann still co-owned by Warner Bros. and Paramount? I know they sold it at one point, but didn’t they buy it back? Does the acquisition of Dreamworks play into this at all? And thus, could Spielberg have extra pull here?
I just went to the Mann website, where they make a big deal about being a “boutique” theatre chain known for their history, prestige, state of the art presentation, and being “where Hollywood goes to the movies.” Yeah, right.
I completely agree with you, hollywood90038. The old TWA terminal is being saved by Jet Blue by building around it. If only the same could be done with the National.
Is there any way to change those zoning laws? Is there any group that has the political juice to get this done? Now that Mann has called their bluff and closed the National, maybe the community leaders will realize that something must be done to save the special place that their community holds in the hearts of L.A. moviegoers. In ten years, when all that is left are the Village, Bruin, and the Crest (all the way down Westwood Blvd., it might as well be in a different city), Westwood will have completely lost its unique character.
By the way, thank you for the management for turning the sound all the way up for last night’s final screening. Those chest-rattling explosions in Shooter gave me fond memories of the National back in its glory days. Seeing a girl sitting in front of me (with a group of friends, probably from UCLA, with no idea the significance of the night and probably wondering why there were all these strange men trolling around with cameras) clamping her hands around her ears to muffle the sound definitely made the night just a little brighter.
Who’s going to be there Thursday night for the final show? Thank god they’re going out with Shooter, a fairly decent movie that will make good use of the big screen and the sound.
The National shows up in “Zodiac” posing as a theatre in San Francisco (for the 1972 premiere of “Dirty Harry”). Looking back on the film, the shot they use for the exterior (which is a more traditional entrance and marquee) clearly does not match the interior (The National’s two floors and large windows).
The production designer/location scouts must have realized that no theatre screams “Early 70’s” like the National. If they do end up closing it or, God forbid, getting rid of its funky 70’s decor, at least it will always be preserved on film. And “Zodiac,” with its spot on cinematography and production design, is likely to become the gold standard of filmic representations of that period.
Tonight was my first time at the Nuart since the recent renovation, and it was a very sad experience. They’ve given the auditorium a black and gray color scheme, widened the aisles, and installed new, high-backed seats that rock back and forth. First off, I found the seats incredibly uncomfortable. The armrests are too high, and the high backs and extended width between the aisles means that you can no longer slouch back and put your feet up on the next aisle (somthing that you used to be able to do without disturbing anyone, considering that the Nuart is seldom packed). And the rocking doesn’t do it for me, particularly since the wide aisles make it difficult to anchor your feet to the floor.
But beyond the reduced comfort, the whole aesthetic of the place is incredibly disappointing. It seems like they’ve decided to “Arclight” the place, meaning that they’ve gone for a modern, all-black look, I guess in an attempt to make it look more hip and “arty.”
The red color scheme that they used to have was perfect. For me, the color red signifies “old-time movie house” for some reason. And even though I don’t know how the Nuart originally looked (I only started to go in the late-80’s), it definitely seemed like it could have been the original decor, or at least quite similar to it.
And what was wrong with the old auditorium, anyways? The seats were comfortable and in good shape, and the place always seemed pretty clean. Over years of going there, I never once thought, “The Nuart is getting kind of run-down.”
They’ve also changed the lobby and box-office, although these parts are still being worked on. The biggest change so far is that they’ve gotten rid of the old-style, stand alone box office and built it into the rest of the theatre (I guess I didn’t take all that good of a look, but I think they’ve achieved this by building a wall that extends into the lobby, reducing the width of the space under the marquee).
The outside decor,particularly the box office, reminds me of the Film Forum and the new IFC Center in New York. And here, again, I’m incredibly saddened. The Film Forum and IFC Center play a lot of the same programming as the Nuart (they’re basically the NY equivalents), and for years I used to claim to my NY friends that one of the advantages of LA over NY is that the primary revival theatre/art house in the city is an actual old-style movie theatre, instead of some cramped, crappy “film center.”
Which leads me to my last point—At least they didn’t split it! I guess if Landmark wanted to bring in more revenue (although they’ve lost at least 100 seats, which they’ll surely miss if they get another Blair Witch Project or Blade Runner), we should be thankful they’ve decided to make it look more like the Arclight rather than completely destroy it by cutting it up. So curse you/thank you Marc Cuban.
I had heard that it was closing at the end of July, but I just called today to ask if Clerks II is going to be the last film they show and was told by a manager that something had been “worked out.” Has anyone else heard about this? The manager didn’t seem fully confident about what he was saying, so maybe it is just going to be open on a month to month basis. He didn’t seem to really want to talk to me, so maybe someone else could get more information. The direct number to the box office is (310) 208-3946.