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In the mid-60s to mid-70’s the Fine Arts was one of the premiere art houses in Los Angeles, Films such as BELLE DE JOUR, ZORBA THE GREEK, PERSONA, WOMEN IN LOVE and LAST TANGO IN PARIS all had their first run engagements here and each played several months exclusively. The area isn’t as vibrant and the parking more restrictive now, which has caused the theatre’s bookings to be less stellar than in it’s peak period. The theatre is still as lovely a place to see a movie as ever.
Yes, Landmark Theatres took over the Sherman Theatre around 1977, I was the manager for Landmark’s Sherman for about a year and a half when they took it over. The programming was very eclectic, from a Sci Fi festival, a Silent Film festival, and the amusing “Golden Ladies of the Silver Screen” festival (which featured classic performances of many actresses) to specialized first run films that would be booked for one week only on the theatres movie calendar. I recall John Waters' DESPERATE LIVING had it’s L.A. premiere run here, but Sherman Oaks was a pretty conservative area to open one of Waters' films, so it did very little business. The theatre did best on repertory double bills. CLOCKWORK ORANGE always brought in a big crowd, and I remember THE WIZARD OF OZ selling out a Sunday matinee (the capacity was approx. 540 seats). Landmark Theatres also ran the Nuart Theatre in West L.A., with repertory programs which were always more popular than the Sherman ,due to it’s location near UCLA and fashionable Westwood Village. But the Sherman did it’s part to service the cult movie lovers in the San Fernando Valley. We ran ROCKY HORROR at midnight on the weekends which did well. Later it moved to the Tiffany Theatre on Sunset Strip where the cult became even more popular.
The theatre was very charming and they ran carbon arc projectors, which meant the projectionist would have to change the carbon every 20 minutes after the reel change. It had an outer lobby with lots of poster cases, a small box office set away from the lobby in it’s own space, connected to the lobby only by the door. The concession stand and lobby were small, and if we started selling tickets early for the next performance we would have patrons stand in line outside that would sometimes snake around the ice cream store and into the mini-mall area next door. The theatre was razed in the 80’s and in its place stands a bank. The Baskin/Robbins ice cream store that stood next to the theatre still remains!