Only in Theaters traces the highs and lows of the Laemmle Family as they traverse the evolving world during pre and post-COVID. New on DVD from Kino Lorber.
Through the roughest part of COVID the service industry was hit the hardest. This included the already hurt theatrical exhibition. Only in Theaters starts off as a documentary about the Laemmle family as they find ways to endure the Streaming Wars only to be hit hard by COVID. More than just a slow-motion accident, Only in Theaters gives us context as to not just why the Laemmle’s were so important to LA and Independent and Foreign Cinema but the US and the world.
Director Raphael Sbarge manages to make this documentary engaging and moves away from the ‘talking head’ documentary style that many Film-based Documentaries have suffered from lately. The way that the Laemmle’s give him access helps this film like more of an astute documentary about the work and sacrifices the family takes to ensure the business remains. Though when the film does go to those talking heads Film Heavyweights like Ava DuVernay, Cameron Crowe, James Ivory, Allison Anders, Leonard Maltin, Kevin Thomas, and Kevin Turan show up.
The documentary is not the “happily ever after … “ style we’re used to. There is a cost and we see it firsthand in the film. The Laemmle’s headed by Greg, are constantly struggling with how to maintain everything, and when it does come crashing there’s a relatability and heart at the core that one can’t help but empathize with. Through it all, Laemmle’s continues their mission of theatrical exhibition and ensuring quality films – no matter the budget, language, or themes – are shown on the biggest screens.
If that isn’t a worthy cause for a documentary about film… I’m not sure what is.
Surprisingly, the DVD transfer is beautiful. One does wish that Kino would have released the film on Blu-ray but one can’t argue with at least we have a physical copy of the film – a rarer and rarer occurrence. The image is healthy, sharp, and consistently well-balanced contrast and black levels.
They include the following;
- Additional Interviews with Ava DuVernay, Cameron Crowe, Leonard Maltin, and more!
- Audio commentary by director Raphael Sbarge
- Alternate opening sequence
- Theatrical Trailer
Audio commentary by director Raphael Sbarge begins with an anecdote about the types of documentaries that are made he heard after the film was released. Some of the details include what inspired him to make the documentary; the history of the Laemmle – specifically what fascinated him about the family, the history, and how they influenced film as a culture and industry; how he met Greg Laemmle – how the relationship evolved and came to fruition with the documentary; making the documentary and the realities of independent cinema – how it relates to the Laemmle and how they give space to filmmakers to show their film; and much more. Sbarge is a great conversationalist and is very transparent about the realties of not just making films in general but the release of them and how it relates to the subject he documented.
Additional Interviews – the additional interview expound on the subject’s individual interviews the various topics include how they found art/indie/foreign cinema, their thoughts on the difference between seeing something on a small screen as opposed to a movie theater, their work with or for the Laemmle theaters, the history of the Laemmle family, and some more of the reopening of the various theaters during COVID, and much more.
- Roger Christensen (15:27)
- Cameron Crowe (10:55) – Through a Zoom Call
- Ava DuVernay (9:57) – Through a Zoom Call
- Alyse Laemmle (15:23)
- Leonard Maltin (9:51)
- Michael Renov (11:36)
- Bruce Joel Rubin (16:00) – Through a Zoom Call
- David Snyder (4:11)
- Kenneth Turan (13:02)
- Isaac Wade (5:18)
Alternate opening sequence (2:18) – a little more morose of an opening in black and white.
Theatrical Trailer (2:10)
The Final Thought
Kino has delivered another gem of a film with Only in Theaters. Recommended!