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variety covers downtown cinema

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, August 03, 2004, at 09:50AM

As noted today in LA Observed, last night downtown held its first premiere in decades when the Orpheum played host to Tom Cruise and Collateral. Variety had a good article run in advance talking a bit about the revitalization of cinema downtown, focusing on this premiere, the Laemmle Grande, and the Linda Lea.

I wasn't here last night to snoop around down by the Orpheum, but driving by there in the last few days it's been a scene of much activity, with the parking lot in the rear transformed into a sea of white canopies covering all manner of production details.

When visiting the Orpheum a few weekends ago on the LA Conservancy's Broadway theatre tour, the guy at the Orpheum was talking about the back and forth they were having with the premiere people, who wanted to hang a larger screen than the Orpheum's stage would support (and therefore larger than what was installed). I can't remember the exact details, but I think they wanted a 60ft screen where the Orpheum only had a 43ft one (the largest that would accomodate viewing angles from all of the seating). At that point the theatre was confident they had talked the movie people into doing the logical thing and using the house screen, but with Hollywood you never know.

The Laemmle Grande bit is an interesting read that sums up well what I'd been hearing. Where Laemmles in locales such as Santa Monica and Pasadena run almost exclusively indie films, the Grande runs mostly normal first-run fare. This always struck me as odd, until I saw a great explanation from Greg Laemmle posted to the newdowntown list. Apparently indie prints are so hard to come by that they just have a hard time getting anyone to want to show an indie downtown, a place not known to be all that great for artsy movie audiences. With the new loft crowd moving downtown, though, that could be beginning to change. The Grande is currently showing Maria Full of Grace, a film that I'm only a bit interested in seeing, but probably will go check out at the Grande just because I love the idea of a theater that's within walking distance showing indie movies.

The Linda Lea is going to be a bit more work. I bike by the building on Main, and though the outside clearly shows a theater, it shows one that needs lots of work. Hopefully the interior is better preserved than the exterior, but that's hard to believe since it last showed movies over twenty years ago and doesn't look to have even benefited from the location shooting that has kept the Broadway theaters afloat.

It's always good to see publicity for the revitalization of downtown, especially such a complimentary piece in a trade like Variety.


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