Restored Beverly Hills Theater to Host Two Festival Premieres
The Steve Tisch Cinema Center inside the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, which is being dedicated May 1, will also host the upcoming opening nights for the Bel Air Film Festival and the Israel Film Festival in October -- all part of a plan to make the historic venue a destination for movie premieres, festivals and events.
Rabbi David Baron of Temple of the Arts, which acquired the building in 2005 and has been restoring it, said the expansion into movies "will allow us to recapture the storied legacy of film premieres and screenings that began with the opening premiere of Charlie Chaplin's film City Lights in September 1930."
Since the official city landmark was acquired, it has become home to the Beverly Hills Performing Arts Center. The building has been restored in the original art-deco style, thanks to a $5-million gift from the Saban Family Foundation. The 1,900-seat main auditorium has now been outfitted with state-of-the-art digital projection and 7.1 surround sound.
It remains an active venue for religious services, live theater and events, but now also will host screenings, including those presented later this year by the Producer's Guild of America (which typically include post-screening interviews with stars and filmmakers) to showcase the year's top movies.
When it opened in 1930, the building designed by architect S. Charles Lee was called The Fox Wilshire, and featured vaudeville and movies. In 1980, it was converted into a theater for live events and stage presentations. In 2012, now called the Saban Theatre, it was listed in the National Register for Historic Places. In May 2013, it was declared landmark #12 on the Beverly Hills Register of Historic Properties.
The latest restoration work is the result of a gift from Steve Tisch, a movie and TV producer whose credits include Risky Business, Forrest Gump, The Taking of Pelham 123 and the TV movie The Burning Bed. He has also been chairman of the New York Giants football team since 2005.