By Maria SAHAKIAN, Glendale Arts
The spotlight was focused on Laemmle Theatres on Sunday as an enthusiastic crowd gathered to watch “Only in Theaters,” director Raphael Sbarge’s emotionally gripping documentary depicting the 84-year history of the iconic family-owned arthouse cinema chain.
Cameras captured members of the Laemmle family during a period of high-stakes developments starting in 2019 as they contemplated the sale of the theatres (ultimately deciding not to sell), faced 14 months of pandemic closures the following year and eventually reopened in 2021.
The afternoon screening at the Laemmle Glendale was hosted by Glendale Arts Laemmle Theatres President and CEO Greg Laemmle, along with wife and fellow cast member Tish Laemmle. The pair joined Glendale Arts’ Maria Sahakian for a post-screening Q&A.
The wide-ranging discussion and questions from the audience touched on the theme of perseverance prevalent throughout the film, the timeless relevance of film exhibition in a constantly changing industry and the future of the chain as it bounces back in the post-pandemic era.
Sahakian also announced that the Glendale International Film Festival, which Glendale Arts presented at the Laemmle Glendale last fall, will be returning in 2023 and is anticipated to screen over 100 films at the theater from Sept. 29-Oct. 5.
“Only in Theaters” is a love letter to the tradition of moviegoing, the Laemmle Theatres and the family behind them. The film is also a call-to-action to audiences everywhere, reminding viewers to be proactive in their support in order to ensure the continued longevity of this Los Angeles institution beloved by generations of filmmakers and independent film fans.
Laemmle’s Glendale location is still relatively new – the five-screen theater on Maryland Avenue opened in 2018 – and, with steady patronage, can achieve that staying power in this community, giving local audiences a quintessential happy Hollywood ending.