A Night At The New Beverly, In My Capacity As A Los Angeles Native

Last month, I returned to my birthplace for the first time in many years. I thought I'd stop by Quentin Tarantino's theatre while in town.
Me enjoying The New Beverly Cinema for Gunpowder Milkshake
Photo by Joseph Poulos

My Night at The New Beverly Cinema

I was extremely excited as I leaped out of the Ace Hotel's elevator on the night of July 15th, 2021. Making my way to my shiny Toyota Camry rental car, I put my destination into my iPhone's Maps app. My fingers scanned across the touch screen for the correct numerals as I punched in the address: 7165 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

The New Beverly Cinema is a movie theatre in Los Angeles, California. It is owned by director and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, and is one of the few revival houses in the area which still shows movies on actual film rather than digitally. 

This was my first time back in the "city of angels" since my family and I left in the early 1990s. I have always felt a connection with the area and a pull to return. As a film buff and Quentin Tarantino fan, I had been taken up in the frenzy and excitement that his 2019 film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had brought to the world. 

I decided that I would go to Tarantino's theatre, The New Beverly Cinema. Purchased by Tarantino in 2007, the 300-seat theatre was built in 1929. It served a variety of purposes over its next hundred years, even being used for pornographic movie premieres in the late 1960s. 

My wife and infant son were sound asleep atop the stylish structure, known as The Ace Hotel, which is housed in the former United Artists building. Started by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks as a safe haven for creatives, the building was still adorned with the massive "United Artists" sign all done up in neon. 

Former United Artists Building
Image Source: The Los Angeles Times

The Toyota made a light chirp as the new tires pounded over the pavement of the speed bump, and just like that, I was on my way to the movies via the obscene traffic of downtown Los Angeles. I was nervous to be out there, but my goal was clear: to make it in time for the 7:30 showing of Gunpowder Milkshake at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema.

What is the New Beverly Cinema Like For a Tarantino Fan?

Enjoying my night at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, California
Photo: Joseph Poulos

In a word, it is awesome to be at the New Beverly Cinema as a Tarantino fan. After you grab your ticket from the kind and sociable box office attendant, you head on over to concessions to gaze through the collectibles and wares that the famous movie house has to offer. 

There is plenty on display for the Tarantino fan, and many folks have made the trek to this special location. After chatting with some fellow film buffs, I approached the register and proceeded to point at basically every item I saw.

Once I added a large coke and some popcorn to my order, the cashier suggested I take a separate shiny yellow popcorn bag to gather my various collectibles in. Among them included a Once Upon a Time in Hollywood t-shirt, four collectible buttons for Tarantino's new novelization of the film, four glossy bookmarks from the same book, a poster for tonight's feature film Gunpowder Milkshake, and a promotional magazine featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton.

I was like a kid in a candy store, and so I felt a bit silly. I soon realized that everyone there had either met or exceeded my level of enthusiasm for the occasion. The theatre was packed and hot, with everyone rejoicing and introducing themselves while sharing their favorite Quentin Tarantino movie with one another.

There was no gatekeeping or elitism in the air. Everyone was welcome, and I felt happy to be included among the real LA people as well. After a brief speech from one of the employees, a classic Road Runner cartoon was played on the screen. The audience responded to every comic insinuation in the clip and the hype for the premiere of Navot Papushado's Gunpowder Milkshake was palpable.

Gunpowder Milkshake Promotional Poster
Image Source: IGN

Enjoying a Gunpowder Milkshake

The feature was the premiere of a new action film handled by Netflix. It stars Game of Thrones mainstay Lena Headey as the expert assassin mother of Karen Gillan from Doctor Who. They are threatened by a sinister group known as "The Firm", with Paul Giamatti as its leader.

Luckily, Gillan's character has followed in her mother's footsteps and is herself a skilled assassin and martial artist. Utilizing her mother's core group of friends (and you guessed it, also assassins), which includes Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh, the two women take on The Firm with deadly efficiency.

What follows is basically a Tarantino-esque bloodbath featuring the themes of women empowerment, as well as a particular penchant for stylistic and fetishized violence. It is a loud and bombastic film that has a less-than-great story but is fully engaging on a visual level.

Since that is likely what the studio envisioned for this action film, they are probably happy with the 64% rating they earned on Rottentomatoes. The website responded to the film by saying that it "runs dangerously close to being a pure sugar rush with no substance." They go on to say that "Gunpowder Milkshake is a brutal blast that will absorb audiences into its neon-infused universe."

It was wholly fun and every violent crescendo was applauded and commented on by the audience. After all, we film buffs were getting to see a brand new movie repurposed for the actual film. This was actually a pretty cool movie to do this to, and the color was spectacular.

Photo: Joseph Poulos

The End of My Night at The New Beverly Cinema

When the film was over, I was sad to have to leave this place. However, the theatre itself lacks parking, a common problem that plagues other LA landmarks as well. I was forced to leave my sparkling new rental car on the side of Formosa Street in front of a power transformer. 

The signs in the area all indicated that this was a no-parking area. However, the other Tarantino fans had assured me that a short two-hour park on a residential street is usually tolerated by the local parking enforcement, if for no other reason than decreased staffing on the night shift.

When I finally got back to Formosa Street, the cool night air carried a coalescence of smog and Pacific Ocean dew that was fragrant. I was elated to see the car which I did not own, yet had driven to this exact location, had not been stolen or towed. 

I switched the headlamps on and my iPhone chirped in recognition of the Bluetooth capabilities. I scrolled over to the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood soundtrack and let the sonic landscapes of Los Angeles course over me as I drove home on La Brea.

Joseph Poulos is a freelance writer from Michigan.

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