Vidiots is finally getting ready to welcome movie fans, as the video store and nonprofit film organization unveils its renovation of the Eagle Theatre in northeast L.A.’s Eagle Rock neighborhood. The official opening is set for June 1, with sneak previews for supporters starting in May.
The beloved Santa Monica video rental store opened in 1985 and closed in 2017 after becoming a nonprofit in 2013.
“We’re overjoyed to finally see our dream of bringing Vidiots back to Los Angeles,” said Vidiots founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber. “We could not have accomplished this incredible feat without the loyal and steadfast support of a community truly devoted to cinema and creating a space for new generations to be inspired and enlightened by the arts, and where they can fall in love with film as we have.”
The new complex at 4884 Eagle Rock Blvd. will include a physical media library boasting 50,000 titles on DVD, Blu-ray and VHS, a video store, a 271-seat movie theater, a beer and wine bar serving a light menu and a community space that can host micro-cinema events. The theater can accommodate 16mm and digital screenings as well as 35mm screenings courtesy of Jason Reitman, who provided the 35mm system. The venue totals nearly 11,000 square feet, giving it flexibility to host screenings, special events, workshops and community gatherings.
With seven days a week of programming, Vidiots will schedule repertory titles, new independent films, classics, all-ages programs and education and preservation initiatives. The foundation plans to work with community and programming partners including A Bunch of Savages, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, IFC Films and Shudder, KCRW, Lionsgate, Monkeypaw Productions, MUBI, Outfest, rePROFilm, UCLA Film & Television Archive and Women in Film.
“There are not enough words to describe our gratitude for the incredible community that’s rallied around us for so many years, making the dream of our reopening a reality,” said executive director Maggie Mackay. “We’re counting the seconds until we can welcome all of L.A. and beyond back to the video store and the beautiful Eagle Theatre. In our corner of Northeast L.A., film will once again thrive as the social, communal, inspiring, life-changing art form it has been for over 100 years.”
Physical media is still important in this era, Mackay told Variety. “You can’t get everything on streaming, even if you could have every title, the ritual and the act and the experience of browsing physical media will always be different,” she explained.
Mackay also emphasized the importance of the venue serving all audiences. “We think of movie-loving from a very narrow perspective, but a 3-year-old’s experience is just as important,” she said. “We’re very focused on people who love cinema, but we almost never think about who are the next generation.”
Numerous high-profile founding members helped get the ball rolling on fundraising efforts, including Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass, Lake Bell, Jen and Jay Duplass, Mette-Marie Kongsved and Elijah Wood, Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson, Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza and Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Annapurna Pictures provided support for two years to store Vidiots collection while it devised a plan for relaunching the organization.
The Eagle Theatre, which opened in 1929, was originally called the Yosemite Theatre, and was open as a neighborhood movie house until 2000. Vidiots has been working on remodeling the space and obtaining the necessary permits throughout the pandemic. There are no other movie theaters in Eagle Rock, which is several miles from commercial multiplexes in Glendale and Pasadena.