Julia Marchese

Last Updated: April 28, 2013By Tags: ,

A glance at the entertainment news cycle should quickly tell you that we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift as far as how movies are consumed; Facebook, soon to be a publicly-traded company, could in the next few years become the main player in online movie streaming. But aren’t more people going to the movies? Or less? It’s hard to say–the middle-of-the-week at your local cineplex looks like the aftermath of a ricin scare while blockbuster releases can earn record-breaking profits on opening weekend, helping to keep multi-screen theaters in the black.

At the same time, the film exhibition industry’s lobby group, NATO, is pushing for the digital retrofitting of all movie theaters and 35 mm prints are being phased out.

Online streaming and social media–there’s more choices for movie watching overall and that’s good for the film industry. But where does that leave arthouse theatre operators? Are they struggling or will being a niche market help them weather the changes? We caught up with Julia Marchese, who works at the New Beverly in Los Angeles, to get her thoughts on an industry in flux.

Screen Comment – Does the New Beverly belong to the larger film exhibition ecosytem?
Julia Marchese – Certainly. If you look back even thirty years, revival houses were huge, there was no such thing as movie home-viewing. VHS & DVD has killed so many of those theaters, but I think they are so important. To be able to watch a classic film on the big screen, on 35mm, with an audience, there is no home-viewing experience that can rival that.

What do you do at the New Beverly Cinemas and how long have you held this job?
I do a little bit of everything at the theater : box-office, concessions, guest programming. I have worked at the theater for almost six years.

What brought you here at first?
I moved to Los Angeles in 2001, and almost immediately found one of the calendars. Upon seeing it, I knew I it was the place for me. The first time I attended the theater, in 2001, I asked for a job there and continued to ask every time I went back for the next five years. Finally Sherman Torgan, the founder of the theater, caved in and gave me a job. The year was 2006. I was very persistent! I knew in my heart it was the place for me.

Please share one little-known fact about the Beverly Theatre.
At one point in the Fifties the theater was split into two, the Riveria and the Capri. Oh, and also Quentin Tarantino saved the New Bev from going belly up by buying it in 2007; the Torgan family remains proprietor of the theatre to this day, however.

What do you offer in the way of concessions?
Fresh-popped popcorn with real butter, gourmet coffee, kosher hot-dogs, frozen Snicker bars and Milky Ways and a great assortment of candies. I made sure when I started work there that we carried my favorite candy bar, Whatchamacalit. The most expensive item we have is a large popcorn and it’s only $4. Cheap!

Are the problems affecting the industry overall the same ones affecting the New Beverly?
I know a lot of theaters are suffering because of ridiculously high ticket and concession prices, and the fact that moviegoers these days are really losing their sense of consideration for their fellow audience members. We don’t have those problems. A ticket for one of our double-features is only $8. Our audiences are there because they want to see the film we are showing, so we rarely have problems with people talking or texting during the film. If we do, we immediately fix the situation. We want our theater to be a safe haven for movie lovers. Some theaters are also having problems with the quality of the films being released–sequels, remakes, and so on–but our programming is always changing and varied; there’s something for everyone.

Just this week alone we are playing a Joe Carnahan double-feature with the director in attendance, a Rita Hayworth double-bill, and Eternal Sunshine/Punch Drunk Love for Valentine’s Day.

Does the industry’s lobbyist, NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners), help the cause of rep and revival houses?
I know the president of NATO is really pushing the digital conversion. That makes me a little wary. But they mostly represent the large chains around the country, and I’m sure for them it makes sense.

Have you considered the possibility that 35 mm prints might become totally unavailable for rent? What then?
I am keeping my fingers crossed tightly so that wont happen. I’ve put up a petition (see link below) to ask the studios to keep their prints available to rent indefinitely. Even if they aren’t immediately considering it, I hope they will see it and realize that 10,000 people from over sixty different countries around the world signed my petition and made their love for 35mm known, and change any plans they may have to stop distributing prints in the future.

Any parting words?
Please support the local independent cinemas in your town. Many are struggling and your love means so much to them.

(photos: Laura Dern/David Lynch during a post-screening talk at the New Beverly Cinema; Marchese with Quentin Tarantino and friends; with John Waters)

news via inbox

Nulla turp dis cursus. Integer liberos  euismod pretium faucibua