Jason Reitman and a Coalition of 35 Filmmakers Acquire Westwood’s Historic Village Theater

Photo by Alex Berliner, Courtesy of Village Theater

A coalition of feature film directors, led by Jason Reitman, are the official new owners and caretakers of Westwood’s historic Village Theater. The 93-year-old movie palace is known for its soaring tower, neon marquee, and contains one of the largest screens in Los Angeles. The coalition’s mission is to preserve the architectural gem and create a cultural landmark dedicated to the beloved experience of moviegoing.

The theater will showcase a mixture of first-run films and repertory programming from the theater’s directors and caretakers. The theater’s projection capabilities will include 35mm, 70mm, and digital projection. This uniquely creative investor group will harness their collective experience to influence every detail of presentation from the picture and sound, to the lighting, theater programming, and experience in the lobby galleries. This kind of championing mirrors a trend happening across the city, from Quentin Tarantino purchasing The Vista in Los Feliz to the numerous creative forces supporting Vidiots in Eagle Rock.

The Village Theater has been a Los Angeles mainstay for movie premieres since the 1930s and continues to this day; with fifty premieres in 2023 alone. Many of the directors have had their own work premiere in Westwood, including Reitman, who shared, “I’ve been coming to Westwood for as long as I can remember. Many of my movies, including Juno, Up in the Air, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife all premiered at the corner of Broxton and Weyburn. When the Village Theater went on the market, I had visions of how quickly the National Theater became a block of condos. I immediately made an offer and hoped my fellow directors would join me on this adventure. We take this stewardship very seriously and hope to offer a true community for anyone who loves the movies.”

Michael O’Leary, the president & chief executive officer of the National Association of Theatre Owners commended the group, sharing, “On behalf of the nation’s theater owners, we applaud this remarkable act of love from some of our greatest filmmakers in revitalizing the classic Village Theater. It promises to be yet again a community anchor in a historic moviegoing neighborhood.”

The theater sits just one block away from UCLA, whose alumni boast many of the new owners, including Justin Lin, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, Brad Silberling and Alexander Payne, who shared, “As a UCLA film school grad and working director, I am overjoyed to be a part of restoring the Westwood Village, one of the most historic movie palaces in the world. Like my partners, I’ll be programming and introducing movies in what will be LA’s — and the country’s — finest venue.”

A significant number of the investor/directors assembled under the Village Tower for the first time this week to commemorate their collaboration and take an inaugural photo. The energy was electric as the multi-generational group celebrated day one of the new venture, with a mission that will bring the audience closer than ever to the artists behind their favorite films.

The directors will be showcasing many artifacts from their personal collections in the Village, including props, wardrobe, and film prints. Christopher Columbus will be sharing his extensive collection of 16mm film prints. “It’s a true cinematic miracle, bringing together so many brilliant filmmakers to resurrect the Village Theater in Westwood. It will be a movie lover’s dream, a place to screen new films and classics, both digitally and on 35mm and 16mm. I am honored to be a founding member,” says Columbus.

That sense of intense pride runs through the entire group. The proud new owners of this historic cinema palace enjoyed fresh popcorn as they toured the lobby. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller shared, “This is personal for us. We, like so many others, grew up going to theaters that had a voice and personality. Places not just where you see a movie, but experience it. Where fellow film lovers gather to watch and discuss and learn from one another. We hope that, for years to come, this will be a home for movies, and a place where the audience feels at home too.”

The theater will remain open while plans for a restaurant, bar, and gallery are finalized. The Westside Purple Line extension will arrive in Westwood in 2027. The Olympic Village for the LA28 Olympic Games will also be located in Westwood. In 2031, the Village Theater will celebrate a hundred years in operation. The Village Theater project is represented by Scott Gordon, project developer and head of investments at Blatteis & Schnur.

The coalition of filmmaker/investors of Westwood’s Village Theater includes: JJ Abrams, Judd Apatow, Damien Chazelle, Chris Columbus, Ryan Coogler, Bradley Cooper, Alfonso Cuarón, Jonathan Dayton, Guillermo del Toro, Valerie Faris, Hannah Fidell, Alejandro González Iñárritu, James Gunn, Sian Heder, Rian Johnson, Gil Kenan, Karyn Kusama, Justin Lin, Phil Lord, David Lowery, Christopher McQuarrie, Chris Miller, Christopher Nolan, Alexander Payne, Todd Phillips, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Jason Reitman, Jay Roach, Seth Rogen, Emma Seligman, Brad Silberling, Steven Spielberg, Emma Thomas, Denis Villeneuve, Lulu Wang, and Chloé Zhao.

Many members of the coalition spoke about the joint endeavor, including Guillermo Del Toro, who describes the vision as “a way to ensure perfect screening conditions but also a place where filmmakers and cinephiles and future filmmakers can gather to celebrate and discuss the art and the craft collectively.“

Steven Spielberg shared, “I have so many vivid memories of seeing films at the Village Theater and I am excited to be part of this group that is intent on restoring Westwood to its glory years as a film-going cultural institution.”

Christopher Nolan added, “Cinema has always been the place where filmmakers and movie goers meet, and I’m thrilled to be collaborating with so many of my favorite directors on a space that will show what the future of film exhibition can be.”

“I’ve been advocating for the in-theater experience for years,” says Denis Villeneuve. “Thank you to Jason for this fantastic opportunity, allowing me to put money where my mouth is.”

Rian Johnson noted, “All across LA we’re seeing neighborhoods embrace theaters that offer fresh programming, real personality and a sense of community. That’s where the moviegoing experience is flourishing. I’m so excited to be a part of this, with Jason and this incredible group of filmmaker friends.”

“There’s nothing like watching movies in a theater, and I’m very excited to celebrate with this group of incredible directors who love cinema and the community it can provide,” said Lulu Wang.

Christopher McQuarrie reiterated, “The audience is everything. They deserve to be reminded of that every time they grace us with their presence.”

“From seeing Terminator opening day in 1984 to having my own film The Suicide Squad premiere there in 2021, the Village has been a part of my personal film journey,” says James Gunn, “I’m ecstatic and, honestly, a bit overwhelmed to be a part of this group of directors committed to making it a vibrant place to experience cinema.”

Justin Lin, writing from pre-production in India, shared, “Growing up in Los Angeles, the Westwood Village was a second home. A place where anything was possible. When I was at UCLA, the Village represented all my filmmaking dreams. Now I have a key to the door.”

Sian Heder added, “It’s thrilling to be a part of this venture with so many of my filmmaking heroes. And to create a place that is celebrating both movies and community. This group of artists might be the most badass cinematic gang ever assembled.”

Damien Chazelle remarked, “It’s an honor to be able to join with so many of my favorite working filmmakers to help give a new lease on life to a legendary theater. I remember when Jason first pitched me the idea last year and I’m just so thrilled to see it coming to fruition. Long live cinema!”

Photo by Alex Berliner, Courtesy of Village Theater

News Stories