Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen. How Rian Johnson and others are helping


Whenever Vidiots, the long-running movie store in Santa Monica that had become a social cornerstone for the city, closed in 2017 , it seemed the finish of an era.

Now, on a corner within northeast Los Angeles, Vidiots is on the verge of a brand new beginning.

Structure is underway at the Novelty helmet Theatre in Eagle Rock for it to become a combination 250-seat movie theater and video store, home to Vidiots’ number of more than 50, 000 game titles on DVD, blu-ray and VHS along with new programming. The project is anticipated to be completed and the brand new Vidiots is anticipated to open its doors in springtime 2022.

“Even before the pandemic and lockdowns, I think that it is abundantly clear that the need for human connection around the arts and particularly around film is really very important to our culture and the sense of health and well-being, ” said Maggie Mackay, executive director of the not for profit Vidiots Foundation.


“Yes, you could say that in the age of streaming it’s counterintuitive to accomplish something like this, but I might say that it’s obligatory to complete something like this, ” Mackay added, “because as practical as streaming services are usually, they’re problematic only when they begin to obliterate other points of access to this entire art. And when you have multiple points of access to an art form, you just invite so many more people in and you have such a better possibility of encouraging new generations of individuals to fall in love with that art form, and then to support it another hundred years. ”

Sunbeams shine into a room that's under construction

The particular Eagle Theatre in Skull cap Rock, the new location for the purpose of Vidiots, is being restored to its original purpose as an independent movie theater with a projected opening time of spring 2022.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Even as the renovation project has become ongoing, Vidiots has elevated only $1 million of its $2. 5 million goal. To that end, Rian Johnson plus Karina Longworth have pledged a campaign to match all of the donations to Vidiots via Sept. 17 dollar with regard to dollar up to $100, 500.

Johnson may be the Oscar-nominated writer-director behind such films as “Knives Out” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi, ” while Longworth is the author of numerous textbooks on film and the inventor of the popular Hollywood background podcast “You Must Remember This. ”

Via email from Greece, where Johnson is in production on the sequel to “Knives Away, ” Longworth explained exactly why the couple specifically wished to make a public matching present, noting, “I want Vidiots to remain independent of business control, but that means that will instead of relying on one good sized sum, they need a lot of people to assist out any way that they can. Seems like the more people we are able to inspire to give whatever they can give, the more invested those literal shareholders will be to keep this space alive plus thriving. ”

Johnson and Longworth are founding members of the Vidiots project , a list that also consists of actors Mackenzie Davis, Patton Oswalt and Aubrey Plaza, filmmakers Mark Duplass and Phil Lord, musician Sharon Van Etten and suppliers Keith and Jess Wu Calder, Nate Moore plus Amy Pascal, among others. A 35 mm projection system has been donated by filmmaker Jason Reitman.

“I keep saying these are the people who care most about film in the world, ” said Mackay. “These would be the people who don’t just want film for themselves. They need it for generations of individuals who are yet to exist.

“And I feel very strongly that this is not just about our four wall space and our existence, ” Mackay continued. “If we are able to do this here, if we can make this project live here, this can be done in other places. And particularly in places around the country that have even less entry to the film arts than we have. ”


Mackay also noted that lately two Eagle Rock sixth-graders put up a lemonade have and raised some $300 for the venue.

Maggie Mackay, center, Patty Polinger, left, and Cathy Tauber, right, inside the new location for Vidiots.

Vidiots Foundation Executive Director Margaret Mackay, center, and creators Patty Polinger, left, and Cathy Tauber, right, are photographed inside the movie theater at the new location for Vidiots.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Vidiots was founded in 1985 by native Angelenos and childhood friends Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber. The particular duo had long seen their store as much as a community hub as a simple transactional place of business. Over the years they hosted events such as a birthday party to get filmmaker Russ Meyer, the polka party for documentarian Les Blank, a seminar for director Charles Burnett and a book signing pertaining to musician John Doe.

The pair were standing up amid the construction debris of their new venue on a recent afternoon, with chairs from the theater stacked rich in a corner of what will shortly be the video store. An additional part of the space will be useful for receptions, educational programs and other events.


“We was feeling the community at Santa Monica changing whilst we were there , ” said Polinger. “And it had been sort of sad because we could tell that our audience was getting less diverse, old, that younger families and younger people were getting priced out of the neighborhood. People would drive long distances to get stuff for special occasions, yet that core energy of young people who were just discovering things was sort of dissipating. And so it’s really thrilling to be in a place now where you see that phoenix kind of increasing up from the ashes here. ”

“It does feel like Santa Monica, 1985, ” said Tauber. “It does have that feeling. And it seems like the perfect place. ”

Pedestrians walk past windows with the shades down and an animated hot dog holding a sign advertising Vidiots' offerings.

Pedestrians walk past the new location intended for Vidiots, the long-running video clip store set to reopen with a movie theater in Spring 2022 in Eagle Rock.

(Mel Melcon or Los Angeles Times)

Mackay called the location at the Eagle “a really happy wonder. ” As they initially developed their plans to relaunch Vidiots, they assumed they might be taking over a warehouse or large empty area to transform into a theatre, rather than retrofitting a preexisting theater to meet their needs.


Initially opened within 1929 as the Yosemite Theatre for silent film and vaudeville, the venue transitioned to sound in 1930 and was renamed the Eagle Theatre in 1940. It functioned as a movie theater until 2000, when it became home to a church.

Vidiots will your local exhibition scene each time of increased uncertainty, as movie theaters are still finding their ground after becoming closed for more than a calendar year due to the pandemic. The Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood remain closed for now, though other Arclight venues have been taken over simply by major chains. Both the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz and the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood are currently closed and undergoing renovations.

The repertory picture in Los Angeles has long been centered on the Westside at UCLA and the Aero or within midcity at the Egyptian and New Beverly Cinema. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will soon be opening a theatre along with its new art gallery. A venue like Vidiots, planning to combine screenings of older titles with new films and special events, claims to redraw the cinema-going map in Los Angeles.

“I’m really concerned about the long-term ramifications in order to film culture of a year-plus without movie theaters, ” stated Longworth. “There needs to be areas where people, especially young people, can go and have their thoughts blown by movies, and if there aren’t places to look that feel cool — where you want to show up within a good outfit and looking to meet people who are into the same stuff you’re into, or who can challenge your ideas of what you should be into, individuals you can argue with and connect with — kids are just going to do something else instead.


“When I think concerning the places that I went to when I was a young person, ” Longworth added, “the areas that helped me become who have I am, they were places such as Vidiots. ”