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L.A. Institution Vidiots Set to Reopen June 1 With Bar, Theater and Video Store

Vidiots, the iconic L.A. video store and film nonprofit, will launch as a bar, theater and adjacent video store June 1 at the historic Eagle Theatre in Los Angeles, according to the Vidiots Foundation.

Bringing the movie house back to its original purpose, and restoring public access to its 50,000-title physical media library, Vidiots’ new home, located at 4884 Eagle Rock Boulevard, will include a 271-seat, state-of-the-art movie theater (35mm, 16mm and digital projection), a beer and wine bar with concessions and a light menu, a flexible micro-cinema and community space, and the legendary video store. The almost-11,000 square-foot venue will provide flexibility for various screenings, special events, workshops, and community gatherings, according to the group.

Sneak preview events for Vidiots’ “Founding Members” and supporters will be held in May.

“We’re overjoyed to finally see our dream of bringing Vidiots back to Los Angeles,” Vidiots founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber said in a statement. “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.”
 
Vidiots will operate seven-days-a week, producing a full calendar of affordable repertory titles, new independents, hard-to-find gems, beloved classics, special events with partners, all-ages programming, and year-round education and preservation initiatives reflective of its mission, according to the nonprofit. Community and programming partnerships are being planned with 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, among others. Vidiots’ line-up of opening months’ screenings and events will be shared in the coming weeks.

“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,” executive director Maggie Mackay said in a statement. “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.”

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Vidiots was opened as an alternative video store in 1985 by L.A. natives Polinger and Tauber. For 32 years Vidiots served its community via the iconic Santa Monica storefront, which shuttered in 2017 in the wake of rising costs. With the support of Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures (which became a major donor in 2015, along with Vidiots customer Dr. Leonard Lipman), Vidiots was able to store its collection and devise an extensive plan for sustainable relaunch in a new home.

Vidiots’ new home, originally conceived as a vaudeville stage, first opened in May 1929 as The Yosemite Theatre. After a few short days, the Yosemite re-opened as an independent silent movie theater, and a year later it transitioned to sound. In 1940, The Yosemite became The Eagle Theatre. From 1976 to 1979, the theater ran as a Pussycat, part of the adult cinema chain. In 1983, The Eagle once again became a traditional independent cinema, and operated into the 1990s before becoming a series of churches.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization since 2012, Vidiots is working toward a capital campaign goal. The organization’s relaunch would not be possible without the support of Vidiots’ Founding Members, Corporate Sponsors, Annual Members, donors at all levels, and Vidiots’ earliest supporters Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and Dr. Leonard Lipman, according to a Vidiots release. 

Individual and corporate Founding Members can join the organization until Vidiots’ public opening in June. Founding Member levels start at $5,000. 

Vidiots Founding Members include Miguel and Justine Arteta, Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass, Ike Barinholtz, Lake Bell, Jess Wu Calder and Keith Calder, Jen and Jay Duplass, Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Charlie Day, Jerrika Hinton, Mette-Marie Kongsved and Elijah Wood, Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Max Minghella, Nate Moore, Morgan Neville, Ify Nwadiwe, Patton Oswalt, Amy Pascal, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael, Noah Segan and Alison Bennett, Sharon Van Etten, Jessica Williams and Alex Winter, among many more.

Corporate Founding Members and Sponsors include A24, Abramorama, Alamo Drafthouse, All Facts, Chifa 國偉, Cinetic Media, Criterion Collection, Facet, Final Draft, GKIDS, IFC Films and Shudder, Kindman & Co., Letterboxd, Level Forward, Lionsgate, Magnolia Pictures, Monkeypaw Productions, MUBI, Oscilloscope Laboratories, Paramount Pictures, Pascal Pictures, Pipeline Media Group, Shout! Factory, Sony Pictures, Superbloom, UTA, Utopia Media, Vinegar Syndrome, Ways & Means, Writers Guild of America West, and Zeiss, among others. Foundation support comes from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the National Association of Theater Owners California/Nevada. In-kind donors include Dolby, Dunn-Edwards, Fever Content, Fireclay Tile, Gumball Poodle, QSC, Stone Source, Thunderwing Studio and Jason Reitman, who provided a 35mm projection system.

The Vidiots Board of Directors includes Vidiots founders Polinger and Tauber, Vidiots board chair Mary Rohlich (head of TV and film, Purple Pebble Pictures), Vidiots executive director Mackay, Vidiots treasurer Susan Garbett (GM, Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return), Vidiots secretary Claudia Puig (president, Los Angeles Film Critics Association), Norma Manzanares (film and TV marketing Executive), Lela Meadow-Conner (creative producer/founder, mamafilm), Rachel O’Connor (president of film and television, Pascal Pictures) and Naomi Ramsey (experiential marketing consultant).

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