Why fashion groups are starting pop-up film fests. In L.A., it’s ‘Spaceballs + Matzo Balls’

Entireworld's "Million Dollar Pop Up"
The marquee of the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles alerts passersby to Entireworld’s pop-up shop and screening series. “Space Balls” and “Less Than Zero” will screen Dec. 14 and 21.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The flurry of recent award-show nominations, including Monday’s 2020 Golden Globes announcements and Wednesday’s Screen Actors Guild Award list, is a reminder of how the moving image — on screens large and handheld — can build buzz for movie studios and those who create their content.

However, as a couple of L.A.-based screening series — one currently underway and one set to launch in January — illustrate, movies can be a motivating force for commerce and causes beyond the entertainment industry.

Exhibit A is a three-weekend event called “The Million Dollar Pop Up,” which kicked off Dec. 7 at downtown L.A.’s Million Dollar Theater with a daylong free screening of “Groundhog Day,” looping over and over from midmorning until late at night.

The Entireworld pop-up shop adjacent to the Million Dollar Theater
The Entireworld pop-up shop adjacent to the Million Dollar Theater is open through Dec. 22.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The hitch? Ads for the L.A.-based Entireworld clothing brand played before each showing, and the free tickets were only available by popping into the label’s pop-up shop right next door. That temporary boutique, stocked with elevated takes on wardrobe basics (think snuggly sweat suits, roomy patchwork sweaters, socks in cheery shades of yellow and pink and recycled cashmere beanies) will remain open through Dec. 22.

Two more themed film screenings from Entireworld are on deck, although unlike the “Groundhog Day” happening, tickets are $15 for each day’s events.

The first, coming up Saturday, is dubbed “Spaceballs + Matzo Balls,” and it pairs a showing of Mel Brooks’ 1987 space spoof with bowls of matzo ball soup from Wexler’s Deli in the adjacent Grand Central Market (available for an additional fee). Taking the theme one step further, the concession stand will be stocked with all manner of ball-shaped candy by La Huerta Candy & Snacks.


The second, slated for Dec. 21, will be a double feature, screening “Rules of Attraction” and “Less Than Zero” with a Q&A with author Bret Easton Ellis, moderated by Elvis Mitchell and including James Van Der Beek, sandwiched in between.

The curious combination of food, fashion and film is the brainchild of Entireworld’s founder, Scott Sternberg, whose love of movies was a common theme in his collections for Band of Outsiders, the label that put him on the map. Sternberg was searching for a unique way to build buzz around the direct-to-consumer brand he launched last year.

“If we had a straight-on pop-up, we’d probably do pretty good business because the foot traffic on Melrose is really good, [and] the [comparable sales] are all there so we know we’d make money,” Sternberg said. “But there’s also value in making an impression on a customer that is so unique and deep and sticky. It’s the start of a relationship that’s exciting and multilayered.” Especially, he added, in the Instagram era.

“Everybody’s looking for something to capture [on social media] to tell their friends about,” he said. “People want to proselytize.”

That desire to create an authentic connection between brand and customer is also at the heart of a just-announced screening series set to kick off in January — just as for-your-consideration film screenings kick into high gear around town.

It’s a partnership between the new West Hollywood Edition hotel, which has a 90-seat screening room on the premises, and Red Carpet Advocacy (RAD), an 11-month-old philanthropy that works as a kind of matchmaker of brands, entertainment industry talent and charitable causes, leveraging the first two to raise awareness — and fill the coffers — of the latter.


Dubbed “a screening series with a purpose” by cofounders Arianne Phillips, a 2020 Costume Designers Guild Award nominee, and luxury brand consultant Carineh Martin, it will work like this: A film studio will supply a movie for screening as well as related talent (director, actor or the like), and RAD, the studio and a sponsoring brand (past ones have included Levi Strauss, Gucci and Armani Privé) will choose a celebrity host.

The brand makes a $20,000 donation directly to a charitable cause that fits with the theme of the film and on behalf of the host. The guest list for the invite-only screening at the hotel at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Doheny Drive will be a mix of news media, film-industry insiders, and influencers and tastemakers who will, in turn, organically amplify awareness around the cause and the screened movie.

Although no specific studio-film-charity pairings have been announced yet, Martin and Phillips said they had commitments “from numerous studios and streaming services.” Therefore, look for commerce — and a good cause — to land in a screening room near you in early 2020.

The Million Dollar Pop-Up Screening Series

“‘Spaceballs’ and Matzo Balls”
When: Sat., Dec. 14, 8 p.m.

“Less Than Zero” / “Rules of Attraction” with Bret Easton Ellis and James Van Der Beek
When: Sat. Dec. 21, 4 p.m.

Where: Million Dollar Theatre, 307 S Broadway, Los Angeles
Tickets: $15 each event