Quentin Tarantino saves L.A. theater

Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:30am EST
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By John Scott Lewinski

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Of those rooting for Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" on Oscar night, the Torgan family might be cheering the loudest.

As the proprietors of the New Beverly Cinema, the Torgans operate one of Los Angeles' last havens for classic movies. And, as of recently, Tarantino is their landlord.

The New Beverly, built in 1929 as a first-run moviehouse, has been the Torgan family business since 1978. But if not for the intervention of the director with the encyclopedic knowledge of film, it would be just another chain franchise.

"It was going to be turned into a Super Cuts," Tarantino said. "I'd been coming to the New Beverly ever since I was old enough to drive there from the South Bay -- since about 1982. So, I couldn't let that happen."

One glance at a recent New Beverly schedule leaves no doubt about what attracted Tarantino to the place -- John Wayne's "True Grit" one night, Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" later that week. The "New Bev" hosts animation events, celebrity-program fests and a bimonthly, exploitation-fueled Grindhouse.

The theater on Beverly a block west of La Brea hit hard times in the mid-2000s as the DVD market chewed into ticket sales. Family patriarch Sherman Torgan was facing serious financial troubles.

"Since I'm a print collector and I screen movies at my home, I heard from other collectors and projectionists that Sherman might have to close down," Tarantino recalled.

The director got in touch and asked Torgan how much money he needed a month to keep up the theater. The answer was about   Continued...

<p>Director Quentin Tarantino, nominee for best director for "Inglourious Basterds", arrives at the nominees luncheon for the 82nd annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California February 15, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>