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Iconic Santa Monica Video Store to Reopen in Eagle Rock

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

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By Jorge Casuso

October 1, 2019 -- Nearly three years after Vidiots shuttered the colorful brick Santa Monica storefront it occupied for three decades, the iconic video store has found a new home.

The non-profit Vidiots Foundation announced on Monday it would move its wildly eclectic collection of more than 50,000 DVDs and rare VHS tapes out of storage and into the 90-year-old Eagle Theatre on Eagle Rock Boulevard.

The old movie house -- which most recently served as a church -- will once again screen movies using a 35mm projection system donated by Vidiots supporter and filmmaker Jason Reitman.

Rendering of new Vidiots store in Eagle Rock
Rendering of new Vidiots store in Eagle Rock (Courtesy Vidiots Foundation)

"Vidiots relaunching on the cusp of our 35th birthday is a triumph for Los Angeles film history and cements the legacy of Vidiots Founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber as innovators in LA film culture,” Maggie Mackay, executive director of the non-profit Vidiots Foundation, said in a statement.

“Vidiots at the Eagle is a community space created by and for film lovers and filmmakers, and we welcome and encourage everyone who believes in our mission to join us as we work towards opening in Fall 2020.”

Vidiots closed its longtime Santa Monica home on Pico Boulevard off Third Street on February 15, 2017, one of several homegrown institutions driven out by soaring rents and the rise of the internet ("Vidiots Leaving Santa Monica," January 25, 2017)..

When they closed shop, Polinger and Tauber were hoping to reopen in a “widely accessible Los Angeles location” the following year.

The two childhood friends had founded Vidiots in 1985 with 800 VHS tapes and a small amount of cash, and the Santa Monica store had caught on ("Vidiots Turns 20," November 10, 2005).

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At a time when a visit to the video store was a regular part of life, the shop built a loyal client base and an extensive library that spanned the history of film around the globe.

The store expanded its operation in 2010 with the opening of an Annex that offered space for “film appreciation and production seminars” and other events.

But the rise of streaming services and other entertainment options made the business difficult to sustain and Vidiots began to transition into a nonprofit organization for survival.

In 2015, Annapurna Pictures, the production company headed by multi-billionaire Larry Ellison’s daughter Megan, saved the store from closure with a last-minute donation to support it during its transition ("Santa Monica’s Vidiots Emerges with New Programs, Broader Vision," September 30, 2015).

But after its closure two years later, its future had remained up in the air, although Vidiots executive director Mackay vowed the non-profit would return.

During the hiatus, Vidiots continued gathering financial and fundraising support from die-hard fans, including members of the film industry.

Reitman, a four-time Academy Award nominee whose father, Ivan, directed Ghostbusters, said he welcomes the chance to partake in the venture.

“Los Angeles should have more movie theaters, not fewer, and Vidiots has come to give all us punch-drunk film lovers another place to call home where we can roam the racks,” Reitman said in a statement.

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