Laemmle 5: your thoughts?

Claremont’s Laemmle 5 movie theater has been open a year and some change — it debuted July 27, 2007 — and I’m wondering who among you has been there and what you think of it.

I’m hoping to write a column about it in the very near future, possibly Sunday, and would like your feedback in advance on the theater’s existence, pricing, mix of films, etc.

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  • meg

    I’m disappointed that they have so many mainstream films. The Edwards theaters in La Verne and Ontario do a fine job of presenting those; they’re not too crowded, or filthy, or dangerous [1], or dissuasive in any way. The Laemmle oughta stick to indie/art films, which draw folks from as far away as San Bernardino.

    [1] Ontario Mills, I’m looking at you. All three times I’ve been to a movie there, I’ve seen a fistfight between moviegoers — once in the ticket line, once in the lobby, and once in the middle of the movie.

    [Thanks, Meg. — DA]

  • Pat

    I have been to the Laemmle 5. Just once. The theater itself is comfortable and pleasant enough. However, it has been a disappointment to me that most of the films that play there can be seen at any large (or smaller) multiplex in this area and are not the films I have for years gone to a Laemmle to find.

    My thought was that now we would have a venue for the non-run-of-the-mill films such as I have enjoyed at the two old, now gone, Pasadena Laemmles as well as the newer Laemmle 7 in Pasadena. Not! And I am sorry for that because it would be so nice to have this type of film closer at hand. It is really what I have come to expect from Laemmle. Disappointment.

  • Dominick Coppi

    When they first opened, I was initially very pleased because of their showing of Blade Runner Director’s Cut. Since then, I’ve only seen a few other movies at the location, but judging by the marquee I am happy with their choices to include popular films as well as the few indies thrown in the mix.

    The price is a little steep for the size of the theaters, and the college discount isn’t much of a help either. I suppose that’s the price you pay (literally) for a hip theater that has Monty Python and Bill Murray posters on the bathroom walls.

    [Thanks for the slightly different viewpont. And the nod to the men’s room decor. — DA]

  • Sue

    I was so looking forward to the “arthouse” films that were promised with the Claremont location. Unfortunately the theater seems content to show the same movies shown at every other theatre in the area.

    The new side of the Claremont Village has pretty much been a disappointment to me although I do like the open area square. With the number of drinking establishments there it seems as though the focus is bar business at night and not the type of family environment I had hoped for at all.

  • I’ve heard that a a few of the stores in the new Village area are actually struggling. Tally’s is already closing its doors. I think Laemmle showing more mainstream movies is a concerted effort on their part to help draw more people to the new Village. I actually like Laemmle myself. The matinee prices are about the same as Edwards or AMC and the food prices seem slightly less than the others.

  • Chris Moran

    Mainstream movies aside, the L5 is the only theater in the Inland Valley where I probably won’t get Pepsi spilled down the back of my neck by one of the five Kids-Gone-Wild in the row behind me. Neither am I likely to have to endure a pack of gang-bangers yucking it up at the tops of their lungs in the front row.

    I wouldn’t mind a fist fight or two, however.

    [Yes, it might liven things up. Seriously, yes, the sedate audiences are another plus. — DA]

  • Jim L

    The bottom line is that the theater needs to fill the seats with enough theatergoers to keep the concessions counter busy and make a profit. If mainstream films keep the ticket sales high and the business viable, who’s to complain?

    It’s one thing for a Claremont community to want to have an artsy and unique film venue to add to the Claremont cache but it’s quite another for that same community to actually fill those seats to support the business. I’m sure the theater would love to stick to their specialty of art and indie films if it fills the house. How many of those that complain of the offerings are doing your part to fill the artsy film seats this week? This month?

    As an aside for those unwilling to to fill a L5 seat, the LA Film Festival started yesterday.

    [Jim, your money-where-your-mouth-is argument is well-taken. Thanks for weighing in. — DA]

  • Mark

    Ditto to most of the above.

    We still find ourselves having to make the trek out to Pasadena and Brea to see the non-mainstream films.

    We were looking forward to seeing things that we wouldn’t be able to see in La Verne/Ontario because that’s where I do most of my fist fighting.

    Hey, everyone nees a hobby.

    [You could always try starting a fist fight in Claremont just for a change of pace. — DA]

  • Ben R.

    What a treat it is to be able to walk to a movie theater these days. I like the fact that my kids could go hang out and catch a movie without driving from place to place. My only comment about some of these other comments is that I am so fed up with the Claremoaners and Clarewhiners. Nothing is ever good enough, waaaaaa……..

    [Speaking as a Claremoaner, I resemble that remark. Seriously, thanks for the comments, Ben. — DA]

  • Jeff Gaul

    Good mix of movies. Much better popcorn than some of the other surrounding theatres. Mixed reviews on the parking situation in the village.

  • Shirley Woffordf

    Hi David,

    I have left comments before, extolling this complex. As a “senior,” I love it. Seniors, 65 and over, may attend any showing on Wednesdays prior to 6 p.m. for $4 — I don’t see how that is even comparable to the other theater complexes in the area.

    They also have a Premium gift card that anyone can purchase for $100 — it can be used for discounts on both entrance tickets and concessions. The general matinee prices for all ages are also a little less than those elsewhere.

    At first, I was a little gripey about the parking situation. I hate parking garages, and other parking spaces cannot be held over two hours. Now I go early enough to park in the Metrolink lot and get a little exercise too.

    The theater auditoriums are smaller than one finds elsewhere, but that is understandable considering the costs of construction these days. One does have to get there at least 15 minutes early if they are partial to back-row seating.

    I have attended films at other complexes where there were 10 or less patrons in the movie. It makes it kind of hard to have any audience reaction if you are watching a comedy.

    As for the films that the Laemmle group is showing: I cannot believe the attitude of those who feel the Laemmle should only show foreign and strictly independent films. The company must cover its overhead. And furthermore, they show many such films that never make it to the surrounding area’s theaters. One of note recently was a French film entitled “Tell No One.” It was a great crime thriller. I really doubt that the Laemmle would have access to enough foreign films to keep its schedule going on a daily basis.

    I also like the idea of their showing new mainstream films. The Laemmle does not show every bad film that comes out like the other theaters do. Their choices are pretty good.

    I wish the bellyachers would stop such and just go out and enjoy a good film in a comfortable, stress-free setting. With five films to choose from, surely they can find something to their liking.

    [Shirley, thanks for the spirited defense of and advertisement for Laemmle. — DA]

  • Sue

    Well, those of us who have lived in Claremont more than 15 minutes remember the Village theatre where Harvard Square now stands. It was a one screener which managed to show “arthouse” films regularly.

    The Laemmle was presented to us as an alternative to the other movie houses in the area and I think we have a right to be disappointed that it seems to have thrown in the towel so quickly (after all David IS writing about the theatre’s FIRST anniversary in the Village).

    I continue to believe that Claremont will support such films, and given it is a 5 screen house why not dedicate one of the smaller of the 5 to the type of films the Laemmle are known for? With the Colleges and many of the seniors in town, Claremont has a rather large community of people who do appreciate foreign films etc. but it seems we will have to drive to Pasadena to see them.

    [Check Sunday’s column, which will definitely be about the Laemmle situation — I’m wrapping it up this morning. I should note, Sue, that there is always at least one screen devoted “to the type of films the Laemmle are known for.” — DA]

  • I lived 35 years or more in Claremont (long enough to remember the old Village Theatre), wishing I didn’t have to drive an hour to get to good cinema. Now, after having left (8 years) you Claremonters have Laemmle? Congratulations!

  • Shirley Wofford

    I have been around long enough to remember seeing many films at the old Village Theater. I thought it was a tragedy when it closed. They also showed many mainstream films. I remember having to sit in the very front row to see the fantastic “Midnight Cowboy” because the place was packed. We saw “Sound of Music” at the Village on New Year’s Eve, and it was such a long film it did not end until just past midnight.

    I continue to be at a loss to understand the “rub” regarding the showings at the new Laemmle. I have attended almost weekly since I retired last January, and I have had a pretty steady diet of foreign films. Actually, some of these foreign films can be very depressing. I have also enjoyed seeing some of the mainstream offerings that I would not have bothered with if they had not been showing at the Laemmle. What if they showed five different foreign films every day? Things would go down pretty fast.

    One may subscribe to the Laemmle’s newsletter by e-mail and be informed weekly of every film showing at every Laemmle theater in the L.A. area. If one is inclined, it is a “piece of cake” to get to Laemmle’s One Colorado Complex in Pasadena by Metrolink and Gold Line. I did it that way when it became obvious that “La Vie En Rose” would not make it to Claremont. Now, that woman had a very depressing life!

    [I agree that people are romanticizing the Village Theater as some art-film mecca and overlooking the mainstream films it played, and also overlooking the many indie and foreign films that have played the Laemmle. I think the high expectations are what soured people. Understandable; I’m disappointed myself, although less so after talking to Greg Laemmle, the chain’s president. — DA]

  • Shirley Wofford

    David, I just can’t resist. I have been a movie buff all my life. I checked the Claremont Laemmle’s listing for today. All of the films are indies (some people may believe that to be an indie, it must be made by one person with a camcorder). “Religulous” is showing today — it was not supposed to open until October 3. It must be a special screening and may be a coup by Laemmle.

    [I count four of six movies playing as indies, everything but “Tropic Thunder” and “Pineapple Express,” and that may be the best average to date. As Laemmle put it to me: “I hope the people in the community respond.” — DA]

  • Sue

    Dave, while you are chatting with Mr. Laemmle, would you ask him why “La Vie En Rose” never made it to Claremont? The female lead won the best actress award at the 2008 Oscars. This is my point, it was not an obscure foreign film.

    Kudos to Mr. Laemmle for allowing us to express our feelings and with this week’s selections it seems as though we have been heard.

    Why is it in 2008 that any expression of disppointment or God help us criticism is so quickly shouted down? Bottom line is no “arthouse” film will ever draw the crowds a blockbuster like “Dark Knight” has, but then again I don’t think Mr. Laemmle expects them to. I for one am satisfied with the one screen showing foreign-type films and I hope the selection of what to show will always be a thoughtful one.

    P.S. Perhaps our nostalgia for films we saw at the old Village theatre has more to do with the excellent foreign films we saw there as opposed to the quantity of foreign films shown there. Fellini anyone?

  • Annie Muss

    The only movie I recall viewing at the Village theater was Cheech and Chong’s “Up In Smoke.” Hardly an art film.

  • Shirley Wofford

    Good column, David.

    If the movie that the couple wanted to see was on the marquee, and they attended and enjoyed it, why would they complain about the other movies being shown? Perhaps someone else wanted to view “Pineapple Express,” etc., and the Laemmle is a more convenient location, for that someone, than the other complexes.

    The Laemmle president mentioned a couple movies, “The Visitor” and “Tell No One” that, respectively, had short runs in Claremont because they didn’t get enough support. Well, to the complainers: You lost out. You passed up two terrific movies. I wonder if you also passed up other foreign movies that were shown recently in Claremont such as “Kite Runner,” “Persepolis,” “The Band’s Visit,” “The Counterfeiters,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “Mongol” and many others that I cannot recall at the moment. (I had heard that “Mongol” is very violent so, “crime of crimes,” I chose to see the Hollywood produced movie “Get Smart” instead.)

    Laemmle’s offerings in Claremont include something for everyone. It was nice to see “Kung Fu Panda” shown — there are a lot of families in Claremont with children not yet old enough to see most of the offerings. And, there should be no reason at all for the Laemmle to be embarrased about showing “Mamma Mia.” Come on–the music of ABBA might be too lowbrow??

    I have attended the Claremont Laemmle weekly for the past seven months, and there has always been something to choose. The staff is courteous, and the auditoriums are pleasant, minus a lot of the riff-raff that we get in the other complexes.

    My advice to the complainers: Get off your high horses, or you might just get your wish. Then, there could be no Laemmle at all in Claremont.

    [I saw “Persepolis,” “The Band’s Visit” and “The Counterfeiters,” all mentioned above, at the Claremont 5 and recommend them all on DVD. — DA]

  • Shirley Wofford

    Hi again David,

    The comments by Mr. Laemmle were right on concerning lack of support for his efforts in bringing certain films to Claremont: I attended last Friday’s 3 p.m. showing of “Religulous,” and there were about 15 people present in the theater — probably not enough to pay for the copy. I’m disappointed that he could not get “Bottle Shock” right now, but I’m sure patience will pay off eventually. There is always the Metrolink and Gold Line to Pasadena.

    [Well, most people do have better things to do at 3 p.m. than see a movie…such as work. — DA]

  • Brian

    Me and my friends make an effort to travel to Claremont to support the independent movies at the Laemmle. In the past we always traveled to Pasadena to see independent films, and when you live in Corona or Riverside, Claremont is a lot closer. I think if Laemmle’s would market its theatre outside of the local area, maybe to San Bernardino, Riverside, Corona, etc., it would likely draw on a lot more people who are currently not aware of the theatre and what it offers. I do appreciate Laemmle taking a chance on the Inland Valley, and will continue to support them.

  • Shirley Wofford

    I worked for a paycheck for 40 years, David. That is why I can do 3 p.m. now.

    [I know you’re retired, Shirley. I was just sayin’, lotsa folks can’t make a mid-afternoon movie. — DA]

  • Chris Sayler

    I too have been a bit disappointed by some of the movie selections and short runs of the more art house type movies.

    I actually responded to an e-mail from Bob Laemmle (when he recommended “Live and Become”) with some of my thoughts, and I was surprised that he actually called me back, and had a 20-minute phone conversation with me about some of the struggles facing independent films and theaters now.

    I agree with many of the above comments that the community needs to work harder to support the “gems” when they are here. I have taken to checking the following weekend’s schedule on the website when it is released each Tuesday, and trying to squeeze in any fabulous films that are leaving very soon, and also to make note of excellent films arriving the coming weekend with possibly a very short run.

    I agree with the folks who mentioned “The Band’s Visit” as one such “One Week Only” gem, and know that the packed crowd that watched it the Saturday night I went were completely enamored with it. Other huge highlights from the year for me were “The Fall,” “Once,” “Tell No One,” “The Children of Huang Shi,” “Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “The Visitor,” and “Death at a Funeral.”

    (As an aside, there was an interesting tie to the Claremont: On the Same Page book you are reading “Distant Land of my Father” to the movie “Children of Huang Shi,” and the Friends of the Claremont Library put up mention of that film when it was in Claremont for the week.)

    The first year of our Laemmle has not always lived up to hopes and expectations, but it has added a wonderful dimension to my movie-seeing life never before possible. It even made it into our annual holiday letter for 2007.

    [Thanks for the thoughtful response, Chris. — DA]

  • Shirley Wofford

    I guess everybody who is concerned with this issue, including me, just needs to lighten up a little. I think the important thing is entertainment value. I cannot really get my head around what is an Indie and what is mainstream, because I see these movies that are actually written, acted and produced by the small groups with the Apatows and the Stillers, and they are then distributed by the big guys and called mainstream.

    Brideshead is an independent work distributed from Hollywood by Miramax and still called independent. We have the benefit of knowing quite a bit about each movie before it is shown, so we can decide, without censorship, whether or not we want to see it, or choose something else. I do not want to see the baby go out with the bathwater.

    [The whole indie/Hollywood thing does get confusing, and when some of the better “small” studios are just arms of major conglomerates (say, Fox Searchlight), the distinctions don’t matter all that much. I used mainstream/non-mainstream a time or two in Sunday’s column as a clearer way of differentiating for the layperson a movie like “Tropic Thunder” (which may be an independent movie in some fashion but was No. 1 at the box office) and something like “Brideshead Revisited” or “American Teen” or what have you that is in limited release. — DA]

  • mkoz

    Laemmle- Claremont…I am very disappointed that Bottle Shock will not be in Claremont…I saw the preview with three others in Laemmle-Pasadena a while back and was totally looking forward to a group of us going to see it in Claremont–it’s a great California wine movie…but, it’s a lot less money to see it at Edwards or AMC.

    Mr. A, Why don’t you call Mr. L and ask him to get the movies previewed in Claremont–I’m tired of driving to Pasadena to do this. You wrote “to fill the gap, he’s booking Hollywood product” and that he said the Batman sequel was one of the best reviewed movies of the summer, and ditto with Tropic Thunder.that is one of the 2 WORST movies we have seen in our life (and I’m not an artsy moviegoer trashing a Hollywood movie–they are my movie choice). I will NEVER buy a Ben Stiller movie ticket again and if I could see him face to face I would certainly tell him.

    Also, can we sign up to have your blog e-mailed to us when you write rather than going through the internet?

    I know Rosies blog use to be sent to me daily till I unsubscribed.

    Thankskeep up the good work

    [There’s a link on the left side of this blog’s home page, under “Monthly Archives,” that reads “Subscribe to this blog’s feed.” If you do so, I believe alerts will be e-mailed to you. Do any of you do this? Does it work? If it’s good enough for Rosie, by golly, it should be good enough for The David Allen Blog. — DA]

  • Anthony

    You and Chris Moran both missed out on the fist fight that broke out during a showing of the Dark Knight not too long ago. Somebody forgot to tell them that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is our only movie with audience participation. 😉

  • Shirley Wofford

    Hi again David,

    I can’t seem to stay out of this particular discussion.

    My Laemmle newsletter states that “Bottle Shock” will be showing in Claremont begin Aug. 22, and “Elegy” will show beginning Aug. 29.

    I had read about the fist fight in another Claremont blog. It seems that the police were on it right away and the perpetrators were jailed. That will show them that they picked a fight in the wrong town.