Theatrical Futures: Moviegoing and Exhibition in Flux

  • Thursday, June 6, 2024 / 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • With Jason Reitman, Brad Silberling, Maggie Mackay, Victoria Alejando, and Ross Melnick

Still reeling from the dual onslaught of streaming and the COVID-19 pandemic, but buoyed by gargantuan theatrical hits like Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Dune: Part Two, theatrical exhibition today finds itself in a state of flux. Even as established multiplex chains face declining revenues and in some cases bankruptcy, new forms of theatrical moviegoing flourish in major markets like Southern California. From luxury cinemas providing elevated food and beverage service to historic theaters undergoing refurbishment and revival, novel models of theatrical exhibition are emerging out of a long moment of crisis, staking out new futures for an embattled industry.

What are these models, and how can they be sustained in the face of technological change and industrial transformation? How are exhibitors navigating the troubled waters of a post-COVID, post-strike entertainment industry? How are today’s theater operators tapping emerging forms of cinephilia to rebuild their audiences while still creating unique cultural experiences around the moving image? Are the movies “back” and will it last? Presented with promotional support from LAist Studios and featuring leading perspectives from academia and industry, this panel discussion will consider the contemporary landscape and possible futures of theatrical moviegoing and exhibition, both here in California and beyond.

In this special panel discussion event, we will be joined by filmmakers Brad Silberling and Jason Reitman (members of the group of prominent directors who recently acquired the Fox Village Westwood Theater near UCLA), journalist Victoria Alejandro (creator of the LAist series Revival House, which explores the world of indie movie theaters across Los Angeles), Maggie Mackay (Executive Director of the new Vidiots Foundation in Eagle Rock), and Ross Melnick (Professor of Film & Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara and exhibition historian). A reception will follow in the Michael Douglas Lobby of the Pollock Theater.

This event is free but a reservation is recommended in order to guarantee a seat.

Biographies

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Jason Reitman (filmmaker)

Jason Reitman is an Academy Award® nominated filmmaker who is currently directing SNL 1975, a film he co-wrote with Gil Kenan. Reitman made his feature film debut with the 2006 Sundance hit Thank You for Smoking for which he won best screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards. He notably earned Academy Award® nominations for directing Juno and Up in the Air, the latter of which earned Reitman a WGA Award and BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay. Reitman has collaborated with screenwriter Diablo Cody on four critically acclaimed films, including Young Adult, Tully, and Jennifer’s Body. As a producer, Reitman oversaw four seasons of the Golden Globe-nominated Hulu comedy series Casual. He also produced the Academy Award-winning film Whiplash and Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition. In 2010, Reitman co-created the Live Read series with Elvis Mitchell, which ran for five seasons at LACMA, where he also sat as an artist-in-residence. In 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic, Reitman created and directed the Home Movie Princess Bride, raising over a million dollars for World Central Kitchen. In 2021, Reitman directed and co-wrote Ghostbusters: Afterlife with Gil Kenan, and in 2023, produced and co-wrote its sequel, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Most recently, Reitman assembled 35 prominent film directors in order to save the Westwood Village Theater.

Headshot of director Brad Silberling. It depicts a man with shoulder length hair in a black button up shirt against a neutral background. He is smiling and is wearing a black twine necklace.

Brad Silberling (Filmmaker)

Director/writer/producer Brad Silberling’s work has traversed feature films and television throughout his career. His most recent film is the suspense drama An Ordinary Man starring Ben Kingsley. His prior features include City of Angels, starring Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage; Moonlight Mile, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Susan Sarandon; Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep; 10 Items or Less, starring Morgan Freeman; Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell; as well as his debut film, the family classic Casper, produced by Steven Spielberg. In television, his growing stable of hit series include the critically acclaimed comedy Jane the Virgin; Emmy-winning Netflix romance Dash and Lily; the period drama Reign; contemporary reboots Dynasty and Charmed; and the Disney Plus series Diary of a Future President. He is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where he earned his master’s degree in production, following his bachelor’s degree in English from UC Santa Barbara.

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Maggie Mackay (Executive Director, Vidiots Foundation)

Vidiots Executive Director Maggie Mackay developed her interest in film as a child at her local NYC video store, Rare Bird Video, and independent movie theaters including Film Forum and The Quad. Mackay moved to Los Angeles to attend graduate school in 1999, she later served for thirteen years as Senior Programmer of the Los Angeles Film Festival and Director of Nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards. She has held positions at Sundance Institute, AFI Fest, and Aspen Film, among other arts organizations, advocating for filmmakers and connecting audiences to cinema. Mackay returned to her video store roots when she joined Vidiots in 2016 as its first Executive Director. Mackay holds a Bachelor Degree from the University of Delaware, and a Masters Degree in Literature and Film Studies from Claremont Graduate University. She lives not too far from Vidiots, with her husband Dan Wilcox, son, daughter, and two unruly dogs.

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Victoria Alejandro (Revival House, LAist)

Victoria Alejandro is a podcast producer at LAist Studios working in all things arts, culture, and Los Angeles. She received her Masters in journalism from USC Annenberg and immediately dove head first into the audio production world. You can currently find her reporting out local stories on How To LA or diving into film history on the new season of The Academy Museum Podcast.

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Ross Melnick (Film and Media Studies, UCSB)

Ross Melnick specializes in U.S. and global film exhibition, media industry studies, film and media history, archival theory and practice, silent cinema, and moving image journalism. He is the co-editor of Rediscovering U.S. Newsfilm: Cinema, Television and the Archive (AFI/Routledge, 2018) and the author of American Showman: Samuel ‘Roxy’ Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 (Columbia University Press, 2012). His articles have been published in journals such as Cinema Journal, Film History, The Moving Image, and Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television and he was named an Academy Film Scholar and a NEH Fellow for his forthcoming book on Hollywood’s global exhibition operations from 1923-2013.

 This event is presented with the promotional support of LAist Studios, NPR for Southern California.

Revisiting the Classics

What happens when a film becomes a “classic”? The Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023-24 feature series Revisiting the Classics engages creatively and critically with our filmic past, approaching it with fresh eyes and novel interpretive lenses. Not simply a celebration of the “great works,” Revisiting the Classics will consider how classic texts have shaped the work of contemporary filmmakers, how complicated questions of politics and aesthetics emerge through practices of adaptation and interpretation, and how the changing landscape of film distribution, archiving, preservation, and critique affects the formation of canon and the making of new “classics.”