Opened: The building was constructed in 1929 and most likely was originally retail space. In 1934 it was a retail outlet for a winery. It perhaps didn't see theatre use until 1950. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007
Phone: 323-938-4038 Website: www.thenewbev.com | on Facebook
As a theatre it's also been known as the Century, the Ben Bard Playhouse, the Hollywood Repertory Theatre, the Dahl Theatre, the New Globe, the Capri/Riviera (a twin), New Yorker Theatre, the Europa, the Eros and the Beverly Cinema.
Architects: Original architect of the building is unknown. John P. Edwards and Warren Frazier Overpeck did a 1959 remodeling that made the space into a 200 seat + 100 seat twin operation.
Seating: 300 as a twin, 401 later as a single screen operation. It's now down to 228.
Status: The New Beverly runs a mix of cult favorites, classics and indie releases. It's the last of the commercial repertory style revival houses left in Los Angeles. It's owned by Quentin Tarantino.
A look toward the screen from "Dark September, or Bright Reflections.." a September 2014 post about the changing of the guard at the New Beverly on the blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. The author muses on the departure of Michael Torgan as manager/programmer and the great adventures he's had seeing films at the theatre.
Matt Dinan, a manager at the theatre does a pre-film introduction. It's a 2017 Calvin B. Alagot photo taken for the Jen Yamato's 2017 L.A. Times article "It's like Cheers for movie lovers: An inside look at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema."
A 2007 photo of Brian Quinn, one of the theatre's managers, against the back wall of the booth. It's a Gina Ferazzi photo for the L.A. Times that appears with Jen Yamato's 2017 L.A. Times article. Ms. Yamoto also includes a recent video of the booth during a show.
A view across the booth. Tarantino got rid of the periscope projection system that was used to get a picture on the screen with a low beam in the way. Lowering the machines and the ports was the solution. It's a 2017 Calvin B. Alagot photo taken for Jen Yamato's 2017 L.A. Times article.
The building dates from 1929. One report notes that it was a candy store and ice cream factory called Gene Colvin's. The end of prohibition changed things. Here in this 1934 view it has become Colvin's Beverly Winery. It's a Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection. What is now the Beverly Cinema is on the left.
On the right side there's a poster advertising the shows at the Wiltern. Or rather, Wil-Tern as it was then known. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for including the photo in his Noirish post #20225 about the Beverly. The discussion continues on Tourmaline's Noirish post #20253.
In the late 30s the building became a nightclub called Slapsy Maxie's and hosted many stars. This 1937 photo of the building as Maxie's is from the Jim Heimann collection. It appears with "A Comprehensive History of the New Beverly Cinema," the 2014 article Chris Nichols did for Los Angeles magazine.
A shot by Herman Schultheis of the building c.1937 when it was Slapsy Maxie's. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Chuckaluck who included the photo with his research on Slapsy Maxie's in his Noirish post #17919.
Maxie's moved to larger quarters at 5665 Wilshire in 1943. From the mid 40s onward the New Beverly building hosted a series of restaurants and nightclub operations such as the La Madelon, Le Lafayette restaurant, the Blackhawk Club, and Jackie Green's Cafe. The contents of the latter got auctioned off in 1949.
The building became a legit playhouse known as the Century in 1950. In 1951 it was the New Globe Theatre (Yiddish plays), the Ben Bard Playhouse in 1952, and the Hollywood Repertory Theatre by 1955. In 1957 it was called the Dahl Theatre.
It became twin movie theatres featuring foreign films on October 23, 1958 under the operation of Robbert Lippert as the Riviera and Capri Theatres. The seating was 100 in one theatre, 200 in the other. The low auditorium ceiling meant that a mirror system was used to direct the light from the projectors down to a height where the beam could reach the screen.
The initial concept was to run American product at the Capri and foreign films at the Riviera. At these plush, modern, screening-room-like theatres Lippert initially offered reserved seats and free coffee. The operation was later sold to Raymond Rohauer.
In 1963 the wall was removed and the venue reopened as the New Yorker Theatre on September 13. The 401 seat operation, running mostly first run foreign films, was a venture of Shan Sayles, a L.A. exhibitor and partner in the Continental circuit and several partners. The remodel cost was $75,000. The article about the remodel appeared in the September 16, 1963 issue of Boxoffice.
By 1964 it had become the Europa Theatre. This April 1966 Europa ad appeared in the Los Angeles Free Press. It's on the site Ad Sausage in a collection of articles by Roger Delfont analyzing the film ads that appeared in that paper. He also has a nice discussion of the history of the theatre.
Frank Lee had the house in 1967 and ran Chinese product. Film producer Howard Ziehm took over the property in 1968. By the late 60s it was a soft core porno venue and in the early 70s live dancers were added, a nod to the building's legit theatre past. It became the Eros Theatre in 1970 and the Beverly Theatre by 1972. It closed out that porno chapter in 1977.
In 1978 the Beverly was leased to Sherman Torgan and his partners who reopened with an artie double feature policy which survives today. Their first bill was "Streetcar Named Desire" and "Last Tango in Paris."
A 1983 view from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
A undated view of the New Beverly during some facade repairs. It's a photo by filmmaker and cinematographer Gary Graver. He took many photos of single screen theatres. More can be seen on his compilations on You Tube: "Second Run - part 1" and "Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photo.
Sherman Torgan died while bicycling in 2007 and the management was taken over by his son Michael. Business had been rocky even under Michael's father and Quentin Tarantino was subsidizing the operation. The landlord had been soliciting offers from other tenants until the 2007 purchase of the building by Mr. Tarantino. He is reported to have said: "As long as I'm alive, and as long as I'm rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm."
A postcard view of the New Beverly from the website for Mr. Freedom, the clothing store in the red half of the building at 7161 Beverly. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for including the card in his Noirish post #20225 about the Beverly.
A 2017 Calvin B. Alagot photo that appears with Jen Yamato's 2017 L.A. Times article "It's like Cheers for movie lovers: An inside look at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema."
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the New Beverly. Especially noteworthy is the fine research done by Joe Vogel in 2010 regarding the twinning of the theatre as outlined in an article in the Oct. 19, 1959 issue of Boxoffice. He also found the article about the 1963 remodel.
The New Beverly is one of a number of revival venues discussed in Mark Olsen's 2017 L.A. Times article "A film festival every night: The new ecology of the old-movie scene in L.A."
See "A Comprehensive History of the New Beverly Cinema," a fine 2014 article Chris Nichols did for Los Angeles magazine.
The L.A. Weekly had an October 2014 story on Quentin Tarantino and his programming of the New Beverly: "Quentin Tarantino on the New Beverly: "If People Come, Fine. If They Don't, F..."
In September 2014 Tarantino, who had purchased the building in 2007, announced that he was going to, for a period anyway, manage the operation himself. He noted that he wanted to add a 6 channel sound system and a 16mm projector. More of the programming now comes from his own library. L.A. Weekly had a September 2014 interview with him "After 7 years as owner, I wanted to make it mine.." where he discussed his plans. Curbed L.A. also picked up the story.
A June 2014 post on The Wrap discussed the Beverly's purchase of digital equipment not long before Mr. Tarantino issued a diatribe in Cannes favoring the continued use of film.
Tarantino had purchased the building to keep it from becoming a Supercuts. But even for several years before the purchase, he had been subsidizing the New Beverly's operations to the tune of about $5,000 per month. Michael Torgan, son of the man who first started repertory programming at the theatre in 1978, had continued to operate the business into 2014.
See the Hollywood Reporter 2010 story: "Quentin Tarantino Saves L.A. Theatre." The blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule had a 2010 post about improvements at the theatre after Mr. Tarantino purchased the building.
Wikipedia has a nice article on the New Beverly which includes a history of the building and its operators.
Don't confuse this venue with the Beverly Theatre in Beverly Hills (now demolished) or the Warner Beverly Hills (also demolished) which was known as "The Beverly" in its last years as a rock concert venue.
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