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Eagle Theatre / Vidiots

4884 Eagle Rock Blvd. Eagle Rock (Los Angeles), CA 90041 | map |

The news: Vidiots, a non-profit video store turned film organization, has signed a lease and will be reopening the theatre in Spring 2022 after a remodel. It will be programmed with independent releases, revivals, and community events with both digital and 35mm capabilities. The adjacent retail space will be a video rental store plus food and beverage service that will be provided in partnership with local restaurants.

Dino-Ray Ramos had the news in "Vidiots Sets L.A. Relaunch With Storefront and Independent Theater," a September 30, 2019 story on Deadline. Thanks to Alex Rojas and Joe Pinney for spotting it. Variety, following up with "Iconic L.A. Video Store Vidiots to Reopen in 2020," noted that the organization's store in Santa Monica had shuttered in 2017. Thanks for Donavan S. Moye for spotting that story.

In "An old Eagle Rock movie house awaits its next role...," a March 2020 story by Barry Lank for The Eastsider, Vidiots head Maggie Mackay noted that they're on track for a November opening. Thanks to Jason Vega for spotting the story. Alas, the pandemic resulted in a serious disruption of that projected timeline. 

The L.A. Times gave a construction update with Mark Olsen's July 19, 2021 story "Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen. How Rian Johnson and others are helping." It was revealed that they're still $1.5 million short on their fundraising campaign.

Website: www.vidiotsfoundation.org
 

Opened: May 10, 1929 as the Yosemite Theatre with two days of vaudeville shows. One of the acts was the Scottish singer George Vallance, who lived in Eagle Rock. On May 12 the owners of the independent operation, J.T. Young and H.E. Allen, started running talkies. The building is on the east side of the street at Yosemite Dr.

The pre-opening photo is from the Eagle Rock Advertiser. Note no marquee letters up yet. It's from the Occidental College Archives and appears on the site Historypin. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding this photo and several others for his Noirish Los Angeles post #23876
 

A May 3, 1929 ad from the Eagle Rock Reporter-Sentinel advertising the two-part grand opening. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating this. Visit his site: Movie-Theatre.org


The May 10, 1929 ad in the Eagle Rock Advertiser. It's on Historypin from the collection of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society

Architect: Kenneth A. Gordon (of the firm J.H. Woodworth and Son) designed the Mediterranean style building. The seating area was said to appear as if you were in a patio surrounded by gardens. It had a blue ceiling resembling a sky and murals depicting the California countryside behind grilles along the side walls. In addition to the theatre, the 9,472 s.f. building has 2,900 s.f. of retail space. Most recently 1,500 of that has been used as a ballroom dance studio.

Seating: 900 originally, later down to 800. The seating as a church was only 315. A platform had been added in front of the proscenium.
 
In 1930 the operation was acquired by John Sugar's Vox Theatres. In 1937, after a remodeling (and a change of ownership to Venicoff Theatres) it was called the New Eagle Theatre
 
 

A June 10, 1937 ad in the Eagle Rock Advertiser for the grand reopening of the renovated theatre. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating the ad. In one of the congratulatory ads on the page the Eagle Rock Feed and Fuel Co. noted that they had supplied the Sherwin-Williams paint for the renovation.  Chas. C. Winkler noted that his firm had done all the painting and decorating. 
 
 

By 1939 it was just called the Eagle Theatre. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this 1939 ad listing the Vinnicof locations. It was a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. The Sierra Theatre, once nearby at 5058 Eagle Rock Blvd., at one point was also called the Eagle. 

 

A 1939 flyer. Thanks to Gerald DeLuca for locating this for a post on Cinema Treasures.

Don Hughes took over the theatre around 1950 and offered a renewed focus on family shows. From 1976 until 1979 it was run by Walnut Properties, operators of the Pussycat chain. It got a Pussycat style marquee and interior upgrade but, according to Eric Warren of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society, it never ran much porno due to community opposition. 
 
An article in the October 1991 issue of the Tom B'hend publication Greater L.A. Metro Newsreel noted that the local citizens picketed the house and photographed all the customers who entered. Walnut soon was running it as a neighborhood house with bookings of conventional Hollywood product.

Around 1980 it got another remodel and re-emerged as an independent film house with another operator. In the 1991 Newsreel article it's noted that Metropolitan Theatres once tried running Spanish language product at the theatre. Bruce Corwin commented "We soon got out of there when we took in only $210 one Sunday."

Closing: The Eagle closed as a film theatre in 2000 or 2001. It had occasional art and live performance events afterward. From around 2003 until early 2019 it was used as a church. The theatre was vacant for most of 2019. 

During its later film years the auditorium was draped. When used as a church much of the interior was painted white and beige. There's still decorative plaster at the proscenium and organ grille areas but other decor has vanished.  

Status: See the news at the top of the page about the film organization Vidiots signing a lease. 



A first floor plan from Westmac Commercial Brokerage. Michael Rojas of Westmac was the broker for the property in 2019. He's at 310-478-7700 or rojas@westmac.com. The theatre still has a listing on Loopnet, now shown as inactive.


The lobby: 


Church group members doing a fix up. Photo: Universal Church - 2014



Looking toward the front doors. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019

Mike's photos appearing here were taken for the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation. The organization is actively involved in the study and preservation of the vintage theatres in the L.A. area. The group frequently supports events and offers tours of various historic theatres. www.lahtf.org | LAHTF on Facebook

Check out other theatres Mike has explored in the L.A. area and elsewhere on his Historic Theatre Photography site. 



A peek into the boxoffice plus a shortcut into the north retail space. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



A look across to house left.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



Looking down the house right aisle.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019
 
 

A look through the de-constructed lobby wall into the auditorium. It's a July 2021 photo by Mel Melcon appearing with the July 19 Times story "Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen..."


The auditorium: 


The auditorium as a church. Photo: Universal Church - 2013



A view after removal of the wall. Photo: Westmac Commercial Brokerage - 2019



A look in from the back of the house. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



A closer view of the stage. When the house went to CinemaScope, the screen was out in front of the proscenium. Some of the platform we see was added when the house was used for live performances following its closure as a film house. The forward part was added by a church group. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



The organ grille area house right.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



Looking across to stage right. Nope. Not much stage depth. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



The entrance to the stage left organ chamber.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



Offstage right.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



The view across to stage left.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



The curtain and masking motors used when the screen was in front of the proscenium. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



A view to the rear of the auditorium.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



A back wall detail. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019


 
One of the ceiling grilles. This one with plywood on top for contrast. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019 
 
 

The stripped out auditorium in July 2021 as the Vidiots renovation is underway. Left to right are Vidiots co-founder Patty Polinger, executive director Maggie Mackay and co-founder Cathy Tauber. It's a photo by Mel Melcon appearing with the July 19 Times story "Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen..."


Upstairs: 


At the top of the stairs with the booth at the left. The cry room is down at the end of the corridor. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



A look out the window of the cry room.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



Looking forward in the attic from the access door that's in the cry room. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019


 
The stripped-out booth.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019



A closer look at the electrical gear.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2019


The retail spaces:


The dance studio in the south retail space. Photo: Westmac Commercial Brokerage - 2019


More exterior views: 


1930 - An Eagle Rock Sentinel photo in the collection of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society. It appears on Historypin. "Footlights and Fools" was a November 1929 Vitaphone release.



1937 - An item from the Eagle Rock Sentinel that's in the collection of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society. It appears on Historypin.



1940 - A photo from the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society appearing on Historypin.



1953 - An Alan Weeks photo from the Metro Archive and Library on Flickr. They were running the April 1951 release "The Lemon Drop Kid" with Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. Thanks to Claudia Mullins for spotting a post of the photo by Ken McIntyre on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 



c.1955 - A lovely view north on Eagle Rock Blvd. from Yosemite Dr. The theatre? Well, just a bit of the marquee on the far right. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality who found the photo on eBay and included it on his Noirish post #25397. It looks like some sort of adult entertainment advertised on the marquee. Note that the semaphore street lights are gone.



1972 - The Eagle running "The Hot Rock" and "Butch Cassidy." The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
 


1976 - A photo from the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society appearing on Historypin. Note the lettering above the readerboards redone in the style favored by the Pussycat Theatres chain.



c.1980 - A photo from the Occidental College Archives appearing on Historypin.



1983 - Thanks to American Classic Images for this November photo.



c.1989 - A shot by filmmaker and cinematographer Gary Graver. More of his theatre shots can be seen on You Tube in "Second Run - part 1"and "Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for the use of the photo.


 
2002 - A photo of the then-closed theatre by Betty Sword from Cezar Del Valle's collection. Keep up with Cezar's latest theatre explorations via his Theatre Talks website.



2007 - Thanks to Luke Gattuso for this shot. 



c.2010 - A view of the Eagle Theatre taken by Don Solosan, part of a survey of surviving vintage theatre buildings he participated in with the now-dormant Historic Theatre Committee of the L.A. Conservancy.



c.2010 - A marquee detail by Don Solosan. Note the oval on the side panel from the Pussycat era.  Thanks, Don!



2015 - Thanks to James Staub for this photo of the theatre.



2019 - The signage is still up but the church has moved out. Photo: Bill Counter



2019 - The north side of the building. Photo: Bill Counter



2019 - Looking along the screen end of the building. Note the seismic retrofit work. Photo: Bill Counter



 
2019 - Along the back, looking toward Eagle Rock Blvd. Photo: Mike Hume. Thanks, Mike! See more of his fine work on his Historic Theatre Photography site.  
 

2021 - A shot by Times photographer Mel Melcon appearing with Mark Olsen's July story "Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen..."

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Eagle for lots of fine research by Ken Roe and other contributors. There's a Friends of the Eagle Theatre page on Facebook.

The Eastsider's May 2019 story, "Film fans seek a second act...," discussed possibilities for a rebirth of the theatre. 

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