tarantino-new-bev

The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles is a great place to see a movie. Not because it is the most comfortable theater or the most state of the art, but because it is operated and attended by people who really love movies. I’ve only been there a few times, but the experiences have been great: seeing Wet Hot American Summer with David Wain in attendance, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 with Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell, and catching a marathon of three Friday the 13th flicks.

Quentin Tarantino bought the New Beverly when it fell on hard times, but his involvement with the theater has been known in detail only to some of the most dedicated friends and patrons of the business. Now Tarantino and the family that runs the theater are talking about the process of keeping it alive.

THR has a long report on the process that began when Quentin Tarantino offered financial help to Sherman Torgan, once the New Bev’s operator. He started giving the theater $5000 per month to keep it open. But when Sherman Torgan passed away in 2007, the theater faced closure, prompting Tarantino to buy the space outright. “I always considered the New Beverly my charity,” he says, “an investment I never wanted back.”

Tarantino said one thing of his ownership of the New Bev that really sums it up how grand his patronage of the long-running movie house really is:

As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm.

Now this is the place where I have to lecture. Did you read this story and think, “wow, that’s awesome”? If so, and you have a local indie house that you don’t visit on a regular basis, what’s wrong with you?

I understand that a great many people don’t have a local theater like the New Beverly to visit, because most have closed. Many others are on the verge of closing. The Plaza in Atlanta has long been threatened with death. The Brattle in Cambridge, MA has had trouble over the years. These are great places. I finally saw Street Trash on the screen thanks to The Plaza, and met David Lynch thanks to The Brattle. Many other similar places provide great film experiences for their audiences, but still have troubles of their own.

I’m not really here to chastise people, but there isn’t a Quentin Tarantino to go around for all these theaters. And not all of them are the Alamo Drafthouse. Some are better than others about promoting their schedules, and some are more inviting than others. But if you knew the sheer amount of work that goes into operating a truly independent theater, you’d know that all are run by people with a deep love for movies. It’s impossible to do the job otherwise. It’s just too much work.

So, please, if you’ve got an indie theater nearby spend some time in the seats. Go once or twice a month, even to a matinee. DVD is great. Netflix and Hulu and On Demand are all wonderful. But movies still belong in theaters, where you can see them in the dark with a crowd. OK, lecture over.

Here are websites with scheduling info for the theaters I mentioned. Throw out the names of theaters in other cities and I’ll link them here, too.

The New Beverly Cinema (Los Angeles, CA) http://www.newbevcinema.com

The Plaza (Atlanta, GA) http://www.plazaatlanta.com

The Brattle (Cambridge, MA) http://www.brattlefilm.org

The Senator (Baltimore, MD) http://www.senator.com

The Esquire (Cincinnati, OH) http://www.esquiretheatre.com

The Music Box (Chicago, IL) http://www.musicboxtheatre.com

The Grand Illusion (Seattle, WA) http://www.grandillusioncinema.org

SIFF (Seattle, WA) http://www.siff.net

The Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ) http://www.loftcinema.com

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