After getting a new owner in Quentin Tarantino and undergoing an extensive facelift during the pandemic, the historic century-old Vista Theatre in Los Feliz will officially reopen on Nov. 17 following more than two years of ceased operations.
But first, lucky Vista-goers will get an early peek at the newly redone digs as Tarantino hosts a Saturday screening of 1993’s “True Romance.” Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the crime pic written by Tarantino and directed by the late Tony Scott will be shown on 35mm. Tickets are already sold out for the pre-opening special event.
A week later, the 400-seat Vista will open for business with a run of Eli Roth‘s new turkeysploitation horror movie “Thanksgiving,” which joins 2010’s “Machete” and 2011’s “Hobo With a Shotgun” as the third feature to be expanded from fake trailers originally seen in Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 2007 “Grindhouse.” Like all first-run and repertory films that will play at the Vista, “Thanksgiving” will be projected on film.
“The next 100 years continues November 17th!” promises the Vista website, offering a tease of what’s on the horizon: “A reel movie theater experience is coming soon.”
After “Thanksgiving,” Ridley Scott’s historical epic “Napoleon” will start a Nov. 22 run on 70mm for two to three weeks, longtime Vista operator Lance Alspaugh told The Times. December’s program will be finalized soon, and in the near future additional 35mm film series will fill morning and late-night slots.
The single-screen Vista, which first opened on Oct. 9, 1923, was a staple of the L.A. repertory scene before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it and other beloved cinemas in the city to close. Yet a message of hope remained on its marquee even as it shuttered in 2020: “To be continued…”
Vista faithful cheered when Tarantino revealed in 2021 that he’d purchased the theater from Alspaugh, whose Vintage Cinemas group also owns the nearby Los Feliz 3 and the Village Theatres in Coronado. Among the Vista’s new updates are a state-of-the-art sound system and renovated interiors.
Alspaugh, who remains onboard to run the Vista following the ownership change, says that many members of the pre-pandemic staff will be back at the reopened Vista, including longtime house manager Victor Martinez, known for donning themed costumes and stoking a convivial atmosphere among its pre-pandemic audience.
In similar fashion, Tarantino bought the New Beverly from owner Michael Torgan in 2007 and renovated the 1920s revival house, which now plays his own films along with cult, classic and repertory gems in nightly double features on 35mm or 16mm.
The biggest difference between the two Tarantino-owned cinemas: The Vista will primarily program new movies, projecting them on film only using their Norelco 35/70mm dual projector set up.
“It’s a good thing for possibly the world, but certainly America, that he has taken that position,” said Alspaugh of Tarantino’s plan to make the Vista an all-film-print venue. “In a way, his stance is going to help the whole film [movement] because it could wake some of the studio heads up a little bit and put a little pressure on the industry to remember the art of the actual film print.”
The theater’s first-run “always on film” mission will be subject to print availability, as most studios do not strike film prints for their new releases. But that won’t deter the Vista, says Alspaugh. Gaps in the schedule of new films will be filled with classic and repertory films on 35mm.
Certain aspects of the new Vista will launch at a later time because they’re still being completed, such as the “Coffy” cafe named for “Jackie Brown” star Pam Grier‘s famous 1973 role, and the 25-seat microcinema that will feature programming sidebars, possibly on 16mm.
This year is shaping up to be a banner one for cinephile Angelenos. Tonight marks the official return of the Netflix-owned Egyptian Theatre after years of renovations took the historic movie palace out of commission. Programming kicks off with David Fincher’s “The Killer” followed by a 70mm film series, presented in partnership with the American Cinematheque.
Meanwhile in Eagle Rock, Eastsiders have already made themselves at home at the 271-seater Vidiots cinema and video store, unveiled in June, with its eclectic programming, cozy digs and filmmaker guests.
In the heart of Hollywood, however, the ArcLight and its adjoining Cinerama Dome remain closed.