Jason Reitman Acquires Fox Village Westwood Theater With Filmmakers Including Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams, Chloé Zhao

UPDATED: Jason Reitman has gathered more than two dozen filmmakers to help acquire Westwood’s historic Village Theater, which will program first-run and repertory programming.

The group includes JJ Abrams, Judd Apatow, Damien Chazelle, Chris Columbus, Ryan Coogler, Bradley Cooper, Alfonso Cuarón, Jonathan Dayton, Guillermo del Toro, Valerie Faris, Hannah Fidell, Alejandro González Iñárritu, James Gunn, Sian Heder, Rian Johnson, Gil Kenan, Karyn Kusama, Justin Lin, Phil Lord, David Lowery, Christopher McQuarrie, Chris Miller, Christopher Nolan, Alexander Payne, Todd Phillips, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Jay Roach, Seth Rogen, Emma Seligman, Brad Silberling, Steven Spielberg, Emma Thomas, Denis Villeneuve, Lulu Wang, and Chloé Zhao.

More from Variety

“I’ve been coming to Westwood for as long as I can remember,” remarked Reitman. “When the Village Theater went on the market, I had visions of how quickly the National Theater became a block of condos. I immediately made an offer and hoped my fellow directors would join me on this adventure. We take this stewardship very seriously and hope to offer a true community for anyone who loves the movies.”

Christopher Nolan added, “Cinema has always been the place where filmmakers and movie goers meet, and I’m thrilled to be collaborating with so many of my favorite directors on a space that will show what the future of film exhibition can be

Steven Spielberg added, “I have so many vivid memories of seeing films at the Village Theater and I am excited to be part of this group that is intent on restoring Westwood to its glory years as a film-going cultural institution.”

The collection of directors will showcase props, wardrobe and film prints from their personal collections, included Columbus’ extensive collection of 16mm film prints.

The theater will continue to operate while plans to add a restaurant, bar and gallery are underway.

Guillermo Del Toro said the theater was “a way to ensure perfect screening conditions but also a place where filmmakers and cinephiles and future filmmakers can gather to celebrate and discuss the art and the craft collectively.“

Rian Johnson, an early supporter of Vidiots in Eagle Rock, said, “All across L.A. we’re seeing neighborhoods embrace theaters that offer fresh programming, real personality and a sense of community. That’s where the moviegoing experience is flourishing. I’m so excited to be a part of this, with Jason and this incredible group of filmmaker friends.”

Lulu Wang said, “There’s nothing like watching movies in a theater, and I’m very excited to celebrate with this group of incredible directors who love cinema and the community it can provide.”

James Gunn added, “From seeing ‘Terminator’ opening day in 1984 to having my own film ‘The Suicide Squad’ premiere there in 2021, the Village has been a part of my personal film journey. I’m ecstatic and, honestly, a bit overwhelmed to be a part of this group of directors committed to making it a vibrant place to experience cinema.”

Alexander Payne said, “As a UCLA film school grad and working director, I am overjoyed to be a part of restoring the Westwood Village, one of the most historic movie palaces in the world. Like my partners, I’ll be programming and introducing movies in what will be L.A.’s — and the country’s — finest venue.”

Fellow Bruin Justin Lin, writing from pre-production in India, shared, “Growing up in Los Angeles, the Westwood Village was a second home. A place where anything was possible. When I was at UCLA, the Village represented all my filmmaking dreams. Now I have a key to the door.”

Damien Chazelle remarked, “It’s an honor to be able to join with so many of my favorite working filmmakers to help give a new lease on life to a legendary theater. I remember when Jason first pitched me the idea last year and I’m just so thrilled to see it coming to fruition. Long live cinema!”

Sian Heder added, “It’s thrilling to be a part of this venture with so many of my filmmaking heroes. And to create a place that is celebrating both movies and community. This group of artists might be the most badass cinematic gang ever assembled.”

PREVIOUSLY: Filmmaker Jason Reitman is working on a deal to take over Westwood’s historic Fox Village Theater in the next few weeks, Variety has confirmed. The approximately 1,375-seat theater has been listed for sale for the past year. Reitman is leading a group of other entertainment industry figures in the purchase, which was first reported by The Ankler’s Transom column.

Reitman, the director of “Juno” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” is currently at work on “SNL 1975,” a fictionalization of the iconic sketch show’s first broadcast. He’s also a producer on the upcoming “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.”

The Fox Village, built in 1930, has hosted hundreds of premieres over the past 90 years, including Reitman’s own “Juno” (pictured above), “Licorice Pizza” and many others. Recently streaming services including Apple, Disney+ and Netflix have also hosted events for series and films there.

The location also includes a row of retail shops, including a Starbucks, and a parking lot. The distinctive Spanish mission revival -tyle building is topped by a 170-foot neon-lit tower, making it a beacon for filmgoers on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Though the large venue was massively popular with audiences for its first six decades, competition from modern multiplexes with adjacent parking and the downturn in Westwood Village’s foot traffic make it a somewhat challenging location, despite the large number of UCLA students in the area.

WESTWOOD, CA - JANUARY 09:  General view of the atmosphere at the premiere of Overture Films' "Mad Money" held at Mann Village Theater on January 9, 2008 in Westwood, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Overture)
WESTWOOD, CA - JANUARY 09: General view of the atmosphere at the premiere of Overture Films' "Mad Money" held at Mann Village Theater on January 9, 2008 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Overture)

The Fox Village stands across from the much smaller 1937 Bruin Theatre, also run by Regency, which was immortalized in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The Fox Village’s real estate listing, which did not list a price, called it a “Rare opportunity to acquire one of the most iconic assets in Westwood Village,” continuing, “This is a multi-generational asset which has not been previously made available for sale by the ownership adding to the uniqueness and rarity of the offering.”

Regency has run the Fox Village since 2010. It was designated as a historic-cultural monument in 1988.

The movie theater business apparently runs in the family, as Jason Reitman’s late father Ivan Reitman contributed the land and helped develop the building where TIFF’s Bell Lightbox Theater now stands.

The Los Angeles exhibition scene has seen numerous changes since the city was impacted by the COVID pandemic beginning in early 2020, including the closure of the Landmark Pico and the Cinerama Dome and Arclight Hollywood, which is reportedly set for a 2025 reopening.

Thanks to streamers and filmmakers, other historic venues have been revitalized recently. Netflix has taken over the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, while Amazon runs the Culver Theater in Culver City. Quentin Tarantino, who already owned the New Beverly, purchased the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz, which re-opened in November.

The Village Theater project is represented by Scott Gordon, project developer and head of investments at Blatteis & Schnur. Blatteis & Schnur’s principal business specializes in the acquisition and creative development of High Street mixed use properties in the top urban markets in the United States. Glaser Weil served as legal counsel to the new owners.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.