How One
Immigrant Family Helped Shape Hollywood


The Laemmle Theatres, a beloved 84-year-old art house cinema chain in Los Angeles, is facing seismic change. The family members behind this multigenerational business—whose sole mission has been to support the art of film—remain determined to see it survive, despite enormous challenges. 




Ava DuVernay



The weight of legacy brings added pressure and difficult decisions. We followed Greg Laemmle, interviewed all four generations of Laemmle family members and witnessed the hard choices they made. Cameras were invited in for intimate portraits of the family, for the day when the Laemmles received their first offer to buy the theater chain, throughout the pandemic closure, and as they prepared to reopen—weakened, but determined to return.

The following is a list of people interviewed, in addition to four generations of Laemmles:


Allison Anders, Cameron Crowe, Ava DuVernay, Nicole Holofcener
and James Ivory 

CRITICS and writers

 Edward Goldman, Kevin Thomas, Kenneth Turan and Bruce Joel Rubin


Leonard Maltin, Ross Melnick, Michael Renov and Mark Ulano 


Four generations of the Laemmle family have dedicated themselves to supporting, encouraging, innovating and elevating the art of filmmaking. Responsible for bringing foreign film to Los Angeles and popularizing countless foreign, independent and documentary films and their filmmakers, the Laemmle Theatres’ impact on Hollywood and world cinema cannot be overstated. In a world of growing conglomeration, the Laemmle circuit of theaters has become even more of an anomaly: a family-owned and operated art house theatre chain.

Established in 1938 by two European immigrants escaping World War II—cousins of Hollywood movie mogul Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Studios—this remarkable family faces unprecedented downward pressure.

Laemmle Theatres