The Vista Theatre in Los Feliz, which was bought by Quentin Tarantino in 2021, is finally ready to unveil its renovation with a special anniversary screening Saturday of “True Romance” with Tarantino hosting.
The theater’s regular programming kicks off Nov. 17 with Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” in 35mm, followed by Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” in 70mm starting on Nov. 22.
“Quentin basically retained the auditorium — it’s intact, it’s been rehabbed and it’s still new and beautiful, but the overall auditorium is in intact condition,” said chief operating officer Lance Alspaugh.
The reopening of the 100-year old movie house is another sign that Los Angeles filmgoers are eager to support independent and classic film programming, particularly in historic venues. Netflix’s 101-year-old Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, which is programming in partnership with the American Cinematheque, reopens after an extensive remodel on Nov. 9, while Vidiots opened its screening and rental venue in the former Eagle Theatre in Eagle Rock in June.
In addition to improvements in the auditorium such as an all-new state of the art sound system and 70mm projection capability, the 400-seat Vista will now offer a 21-seat micro-screening room and café called Coffy — an homage to the 1973 Pam Grier movie that influenced Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.” The micro-screening room and café will open at a later date.
“The sound system far surpasses what we had in there,” Alspaugh said.
The Vista, which opened in 1923 with the interior themed to the Egyptian decor that was popular in the 1920s, has been under renovation since movie theaters shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic.
Tarantino revealed his purchase of the theater on Dax Shepherd’s podcast, saying at the time that unlike his New Beverly Cinema, the Vista will show mostly first-run films — as long as a 35mm prints exists. “We’ll show new movies that come out where they give us a film print. It’s not going to be like the New Beverly, the New Beverly has its own vibe. The Vista is like a crown jewel kind of thing. So it will be the best prints, we’ll show older films, but they’ll be like older films where you can hold a fortnight engagement.”
Alspaugh confirmed that is still the plan. “The intention is to run mostly first run and occasional classics or repertory films. There will be sections of time where you might see classic repertory titles on film for brief interludes, I think in the future you’ll see some late shows of classic films and I think you’ll see morning shows of classic films.”
With so many new choices for L.A. film fans, the only question left is what is happening with the ArcLight and Cinerama Dome? The owner gave a “no comment” to the New York Times in August, and there have been no updates since then.
Tickets for the “True Romance” screening are available on Eventbrite.