Filmmakers and cinephiles celebrated news Friday that producer Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures would join a group of benefactors to save beloved Santa Monica video emporium Vidiots, which had announced days earlier that it was going out of business.
Ellison’s rep said she and others would contribute an undisclosed amount of money to help sustain the Pico Boulevard shop, where writers and directors have found obscure titles and shared their love of cinema for 30 years. It had been slated to close in April because of badly sagging business.
In the face of competition from streaming services and rental kiosks, revenue had plunged by nearly 25% over the last six months.
Regular customers had been aware of Vidiots’ struggles for some time, but reports in the Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times recently made the store’s imminent demise a cause celebre.
Ellison signaled her support of the store with a tweet, “Be Kind Rewind,” along with a picture of the store’s bright, multicolored facade. Others in the business, including actress Olivia Wilde, also chimed in with love. “SAVE VIDIOTS!!!” Wilde tweeted.
Ellison’s rep said she did not know whether the Annapurna principal, who turns 29 on Saturday, was a patron of the outlet, less than three blocks from the ocean. But she said Ellison supported the artistic aesthetic it represents. “A lot of people in the film industry got their education in the video aisles,” said Bebe Lerner, Ellison’s spokesperson. “They went there to learn about movies.”
The store opened about three decades ago and boasts 50,000 titles. It was known for the care and expertise of its staff. In an effort to bolster the sagging bottom line, the owners had formed a nonprofit, campaigned for donations and even, according to a report in the L.A. Times, auctioned off a lunch with actress Laura Dern.
Ellison, the daughter of software billionaire Larry Ellison, produced two best picture nominees last year, “Her” and “American Hustle.”
Lerner said she did not have details about how much Annapurna would contribute to save Vidiots.
Similarly, Quentin Tarantino took over the New Beverly Cinema several years ago at a time when very few repertory theaters remain, and he has recently begun taking a more active role in programming.