Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Revival theaters – Orange County (CA) needs them

If you are reading this blog and you have a revival theater in your town – by “revival” I mean one that

1. shows older movies, most often on a two-or-three-night basis,
2. plays so-called “midnight movies” on Friday and Saturday nights (see MM post of 6/17/09), and
3. has a colorful flyer that you can pick up near its box office,

then for the love of Rocky Horror, go there as often as you can!!!

If you are reading this blog and you have a revival theater in your town, do not forget how lucky you are. Think of people like your Meandering Mouse, who do not have such theaters within reasonable driving distance.

A revival theater is an asset to the community. Never mind that Netflix now allows people from Yuma, AZ to Washington, PA to see films like Cleo from 5 to 7 and The Seventh Seal. I enjoy home viewing as much as anyone, but the experience of sitting in a theater that has braved the ravages of time (for most revival theaters are of the vintage sort), on seats with threadbare velvet in all the right spots, looking to your left and to your right and feeling the comfort of being in a community that can appreciate and love films that are more than 30 years old (that means 1980, now) - you haven't lived until you've been there.

Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to live within walking distance (yeah!) of a really fab revival theater, the Fox Venice. At the Fox, I enjoyed a panorama of exotic films, from Allegro non Troppo to 200 Motels to The Exorcist to The Groove Tube. The other great part about the Fox was its daring concession stand – it’s where I tried a particularly tasty carob bar. (Raise your hand if you ever bought a carob bar at the concession stand.)

Unfortunately, the Fox Venice closed in 1988. The building still stands, but it’s now a swap meet, a repository of worthless things instead of worthwhile movies. (Sing along with me: “We don’t need another swap meet…”)

Photo of Fox Venice Swap Meet (formerly Theater) courtesy of Martin Schall.

Yes, Orange County does have theaters that play current independent and foreign films – thank you, Regency South Coast Village Theatre (Costa Mesa), Edwards University Town Center 6 (Irvine), and Edwards Westpark 8 (Irvine). But we have no revival theaters showing the good old films, no equivalent to Santa Monica’s Nuart Theater or Los Angeles’sAmerican Cinematheque.

I think that is neither fair nor square. I know I’m not the only one who would glow like a firefly if a revival theater came to be in OC.

It’s hard to imagine a revival theater in a multiplex. It should have one screen, or (at most) two. I considered the Lido Theater in Newport Beach and the South Coast Cinema in Laguna Beach as possible sites, but the drawback of both locations is the availability (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) of parking.

Here would be a great location for a revival theater:

Yes, I know that this property is already occupied by an institution called the Son Light Church. You will have to agree with me, though, that Orange County has enough churches (“We don’t need another church…”) and not nearly enough revival-worthy theaters. I want to live to see the day when this building is once again used for the purpose for which it was built, and in doing so raise both the IQ and the CQ (Cool Quotient) of the Orange Plaza.

What say you, Orange County? Where is the best spot for our revival paradise?


  1. I'm in town next week--have any sprung up in the last year or so?

  2. Regency South Coast Village now (just discovered for myself, may have been for awhile) is a revival house - and has special classic Wednesdays, too.