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Meet Greg Laemmle of Laemmle Theatres

Today we’d like to introduce you to Greg Laemmle.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Laemmle Theatres was started in 1938 by my grandfather Max Laemmle and his brother Kurt. They were introduced to the movie business by their uncle, Carl Laemmle, who was the founder of Universal Studios. The business started out as a chain of neighborhood theatres, but there was always an interest in playing foreign-language films. As the neighborhood theatres died off with the advent of television, moved in the direction of focussing on foreign films.

As the foreign and art film scene expanded in the 60’s and 70’s, Laemmle Theatres began expanding as well, first under the guidance of my father, Bob Laemmle, and later under my supervision. We currently have eight location throughout Los Angeles, with a ninth location opening soon in Glendale. This will be followed by new theatres in Newhall, Azusa and Reseda. LA residents still look to Laemmle for our programming of offbeat foreign, American-Independent, repertory and documentary films.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest challenge came in the late 40’s and early 50’s as the introduction of television led to a steep decline in moviegoing and the closure of many neighborhood theatres. We went from six theatres to a single location, and the decline in business forced my grandfather’s brother to leave the movie business and move into life insurance.

For over 10 years, we only managed to survive by focussing on the niche of arthouse cinema. But as more people became interested in films from outside of Hollywood, we have been able to expand. Since then, there have still been challenges. When we are too successful, the larger exhibition companies become interested in showing the offbeat films that are our stock in trade. So that’s a challenge.

Beyond that, we still have the challenge presented by expanding options for viewing entertainment. From TV to cable, from VHS and DVD to streaming, moviegoing is no longer the only option for the consumer.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Laemmle Theatres – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Laemmle Theatres is known as the premier exhibitor of American Independent, foreign-language and documentary films in Los Angeles.

I’m proud that municipalities throughout the county look to us as a catalyst for creating arts and entertainment districts in their communities. I’m proud that as we celebrate our 80th birthday as a company, we are still family-owned and family-operated.

I’m proud that we have been able to return something to the community through our charitable activity. The Laemmle Charitable Foundation was formed in 2000, and since then, has distributed over $1,000,000 to non-profit organizations working to improve the quality of life for all in Los Angeles.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We hope to continue expanding, opening new theatres throughout the county. As the population of Los Angeles continues to grow, we need to expand as well, making our signature programming easily available to all residents.

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