The historic Aero Theater in Santa Monica, which normally books a repertory calendar with multiple films during the week, will present the film, in 3-D, for an unusual full-week engagement from January 23-29. With 425 seats and a large screen — the Aero has kept its original dimensions and been restored to its original look — the theater has become an in-demand location for special screenings of new releases with filmmaker presence. it is a significant move for both Kino Lorber and the theater. The Aero is one of the American Cinematheque’s two theaters, along with the Egyptian in Hollywood.
Kino Lorber has struggled to find an appropriate theater in the Los Angeles market, with the usual first-run specialized exhibitors –Landmark, Pacific’s Arclight Hollywood and Laemmle–either not being equipped for 3-D or solidly booked with the late year slew of awards-oriented films. The two Cinematheque theaters rarely devote a full week to a single film, nor first-run offerings, focusing instead on repertory showings and special presentations (including between them both 35 and 70mm film), and are the area’s prime calendar programming locations.
Because of early deadlines for their calendars for this January (Kino Lorber preferred to open earlier), it was not possible to secure an earlier date once the normal players had turned down the film. But otherwise, this seems to be an ideal fit. “The Aero is a perfect LA venue to premiere the film,” says Gary Palmucci, Vice President of Theatrical Distribution for Kino Lorber. It clearly though isn’t meant as a precedent. “We are not going to run around and keep doing this. We are very happy in this special instance to do so,” says Barbara Smith, executive director of American Cinematheque.
The Aero often adds guests to its programs, and Palmucci says they and the American Cinematheque hope to find filmmaker fans of Godard (and 3-D) to introduce individual showings during its engagement. The one-week booking, quite possibly the only chance in the area for people to see the film in 3-D theatrically, has the potential of equaling or surpassing the initial New York run. The first weekend in two theaters there grossed around $26,000, and total gross in scattered dates throughout the country has reached $140,000 so far, surpassing any Godard film in many years.
Though Kino Lorber still has to finalize dates in several significant markets, including Boston and Washington, they have secured bookings in two other important markets. Chicago will see the film at the downtown Gene Siskel Film Center as the centerpiece of a three-week 3D festival between January 16 – February 5, and the initial showings in Seattle will be at Paul Allen’s restored Cinerama Theater on January 13.