Filmmakers Purchase the Historic Village Theatre in Westwood

A group of filmmakers led by Jason Reitman has purchased the 93-year-old Village Theatre in Westwood, an architectural gem that currently boasts one of the largest screens in Los Angeles. Originally opened as the Fox Westwood Village in 1931 and operated since 2010 by the Regency Theatres group, the structure’s unusual combination of Spanish Mission and Art Deco design earned it a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument designation in 1988. After it was put on the market last year, Reitman gathered more than three dozen backers, including Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alexander Payne.

Reitman says he’s been a lifelong Westwood denizen, and when he heard Village Theatre was up for sale he remembered how a nearby landmark, the National Theatre, quickly “became a block of condos,” according to Variety, which reports that vision propelled him to action: “I immediately made an offer and hoped my fellow directors would join me on this adventure. We take this stewardship very seriously and hope to offer a true community for anyone who loves the movies.”

While there are plans to add a restaurant, bar and gallery, the theater is expected to remain operational while the updates are underway, and Variety says the new owners “will showcase props, wardrobe and film prints from their personal collections,” including director Chris Columbus’ collection of 16mm film prints.

“The theater — which boasts a large auditorium seating more than 1,300 people, with a 70mm-capable screen and upgraded sound system — will showcase a mixture of first-run films and repertory programming selected by the theater’s owners,” according to Los Angeles Times, which writes that Reitman, “an L.A. native and the son of the late comedy director Ivan Reitman,” premiered his 2007 breakout “Juno” there.

“I saw an opportunity to not only save one of the greatest movie palaces in the world, but also assembled some of my favorite directors to join in on the coolest AV club of all time,” Reitman says in The New York Times.

Nolan, meanwhile, tells Variety that movie cinemas have “always been the place where filmmakers and movie goers meet,” and that this group plans to “show what the future of film exhibition can be.”

This particular theater holds a special place in cinema history. When the Fox Village turned 80 in 2011, the UCLA Daily Bruin wrote that when it opened its doors in 1931 it became Los Angeles’ first movie theater.

LA Times, which conducted a substantive interview with Reitman, says “this has obviously been a tough time for many movie theaters,” with venerable L.A. venues like the Hollywood ArcLight and Westwood National failing to survive, others — including the newly renovated Egyptian (purchased by Netflix in 2020), Quentin Tarantino’s Vista Theatre and the Eagle Theatre (relaunched under the stewardship of the Vidiots rental store) — are showing “new signs of life.”

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