Considering Hollywood entertainment remains one of the most important exports the United States offers the world, it’s sure hard to see a movie in Hollywood these days. The pandemic, along with exorbitant rent costs and no forgiveness from landlords, forced the closure of numerous Hollywood institutions, including the ArcLight and Cinerama Dome. What’s next? Going to France and not being able to see a dang Eiffle Tower?!?
Thankfully, Rian Johnson and You Must Remember This podcast creator Karina Longworth are putting their money where their mouth is. Hollywood’s favorite married couple (sorry Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) are joining the founding members of the iconic L.A. video store Vidiots in pledging $100,000 to in matching funds to restore and renovate the 92-year-old Eagle Theater in the L.A. neighborhood of Eagle Rock, which will become Vidiots’ new home. Longworth, Johnson, and the Vidiots founders will match every donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000 made through September 17, 2021. Donations can be made on the Vidiots website.
“Given the recent demise or transformation of some of our most beloved places for moviegoing in Los Angeles, it feels more urgent than ever to celebrate and support the rebirth of Vidiots,” Rian Johnson and Karina Longworth said in a statement. “We hope you’ll join us in helping the women of Vidiots build an inclusive shrine to movies — both projected in a community setting, and preserved on physical media.”
Founded in 1985 by Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber, Vidiots was an alternative video store in Santa Monica, California, before shuttering in 2017 due to, yup, rising rent costs (noticing a trend here). With the support of the film-loving community in Los Angeles, which has no shortage of famous people, Vidiots plans to reopen in 2022 in the Eagle Theater. Donors and advisory board members include the Duplass brothers, Katie Aselton, Phil Lord, Patton Oswalt, Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Charlie Day, McKenzie Davis, Amy Pascal, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Scheer and June Diane, Alex Winter and many more. Plus, they got Jason Reitman donating a 35 mm projection system.
Thus far, the group has raised more than $1 million of its $2.5 million goal. According to the press release, here’s what Vidiots plans on doing to the Eagle Theater:
Vidiots will operate a 250-seat state-of-the-art theater with 35mm and digital projection, concessions and a light menu with beer and wine, and Vidiots’ legendary video store with 50,000+ titles for rental on DVD and BluRay. The almost-11,000 square-foot venue will provide flexibility for various screenings and events, and additional space for smaller screenings, educational workshops, and community gatherings. Vidiots will operate seven-days-a week and produce a full program of repertory titles, new independents, hard-to-find gems, beloved classics, special events with partner organizations, all-ages programming, and year-round education and preservation initiatives reflective of its mission.
Longworth and Johnson join Quentin Tarantino in their attempts to save L.A. struggling film community. Earlier this month, Tarantino purchased the world’s best movie house, Los Angeles’ Vista theater, one of the city’s oldest. Under Tarantino’s ownership, the Vista will exclusively screen 35 mm film prints. “It won’t be a revival house,” Tarantino said. “We’ll show new movies that come out where they give us a film print. The New Beverly has its own vibe. The Vista is like a crown jewel kind of thing. We’ll show older films, but it will be like you can hold a four-night engagement.”
It appears as though moviegoing Hollywood lives to see another day. Long live moviegoing.