July 5 Update: Tickets are now on sale for this Saturday’s Vidiots screening of Only in Theaters. In addition to the film, this is one more, possibly last chance to catch an in-person Q&A with subjects Greg and Tish Laemmle and filmmaker Raphael Sbarge.
Original post from June 14: Vidiots, welcome to the L.A. exhibition scene! ONLY IN THEATERS screening w/Q&A July 8.
Los Angeles’ world class movie theater culture just got classier. By reopening the 271-seat Eagle Theatre in Eagle Rock, Vidiots has joined major venues of film exhibition like the Academy Museum, the American Cinematheque, the Alamo Drafthouse, the New Beverly, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (in 2025), and REDCAT, to grassroots sites like Braindead Studios, Secret Movie Club, and Cinespia, plus, ahem, yours truly, Laemmle Theatres to further get Angelenos off their lonesome sofas and out into our one-of-a-kind megalopolis. We are in Hollywood, after all, the movie capital of the world, and it’s only fitting we have a plethora of ways to see movies the way they are meant to be seen: in public, with an audience, on big screens. Yes, home viewing is convenient. And for episodic stuff that is meant to be seen on TV, we are all for it. But comparing the experience of watching a “movie” via VOD with the act of actually seeing the same film in a movie theatre is like the debate between masturbation and sex …or a frozen meal versus a meal at your favorite restaurant. In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, “ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, Baby.”
We’re pleased the documentary about Laemmle, Only in Theaters, is among Vidiot’s first screenings. Join filmmaker Raphael Sbarge and subjects Greg and Tish Laemmle for a post-screening Q&A on July 8.
Mark Olsen of the L.A. Times has been covering Vidiot’s long road from funky, adored Santa Monica video store to Eagle Rock movie theater/cafe/video store/event space. Here’s the beginning of his latest dispatch:
When the Santa Monica video store Vidiots, which had become a local cultural institution, closed in February 2017, founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber had their doubts as to whether the store would ever rebound. Opened in 1985, the beloved rental shop had a collection of more than 50,000 titles on various media formats that was put into storage, potentially never to be publicly available again.
“I didn’t really think it would,” said Tauber, reflecting on whether the store could bounce back after years of financial struggle with the rise of emerging streaming services. “I know that was the plan from the beginning, but I think by the time we shut down, I was so worn out and exhausted from trying to keep the business going and all the negativity and struggle. It was really hard to imagine this was really going to happen. Of course I hoped it would, but we were just way burnt out by the time we were closing down.”
Tauber sat recently with Polinger in the comfy and inviting theater space of the revived Vidiots, which just reopened. Besides a video store, the newly renovated complex at the Eagle Theatre in Eagle Rock includes a 271-seat movie theater, a beer and wine bar, and a smaller micro-cinema space that can also be used for community and educational programs.
“It has been such a transformation and such a huge endeavor, with so many obstacles along the way,” said Polinger. “It’s really a miracle that we’re here.”