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‘Uncut Gems’ pulled as Fairfax Cinema’s opening movie in former Cinefamily space

The Silent Movie Theatre, photographed in 2017 and former home of The Cinefamily, has been renovated and is set to open as the Fairfax Cinema.
The Silent Movie Theatre, photographed in 2017 and former home of the Cinefamily, has been renovated and is set to open as the Fairfax Cinema.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

For the better part of a year, the historic Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax has been slowly transforming into its new identity as the Fairfax Cinema.

On Wednesday morning, a story in the Hollywood Reporter announced the new theater would open on Dec. 25 with the exclusive 35-mm engagement for “Uncut Gems,” starring Adam Sandler, along with a series programmed by the film’s directors, Josh and Benny Safdie.

By Wednesday afternoon, the film’s distributor, A24, confirmed the movie would not be playing at the theater and that the Safdie brothers would not be programming a series there. A spokesperson for A24 declined to comment further.

Theater owners Daniel and Samuel Harkham said in an interview Wednesday that they still plan to open on Dec. 25, but have not yet finalized the programming.

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The Harkhams also owned the building throughout its tenure as the Cinefamily, which ended its 10-year run in 2017 amid accusations of harassment, shaky finances and a toxic work environment. The Harkhams were also on the Cinefamily board, and Dan Harkham was listed as treasurer of the nonprofit organization.

On Tuesday afternoon the Twitter account for the Safdie brothers had posted that “Uncut Gems” would be playing at the “soon to open” Fairfax Cinema. (That tweet has since been deleted.) This set off a series of responses online, which were further spurred on by the Hollywood Reporter story.

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For their part, the Harkhams said they were not involved in the day-to-day operations of Cinefamily and that they are well aware of the animosity toward them within the Los Angeles film-going community.

“I understand how people could look at us and think that the buck stops with us or that we had control over the whole thing, but it really wasn’t the way,” said Samuel Harkham. “I totally understand people’s frustration and vehemence at the closing of Cinefamily, and we just hope people will give us the opportunity to show that we are going to keep to a much higher standard than how Cinefamily was ran.”

Samuel Harkham mentioned a zero tolerance policy toward harassment and that they will be working with an on-site HR company. Daniel Harkham said he has worked to resolve any of Cinefamily’s outstanding financial obligations.

“Part of what’s taken us so long to get to this point with the movie theater is not only the construction, but just the internal things, trying to resolve the past,” said Daniel Harkham.

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Added Samuel Harkham, “All we can hope is that people will give us the opportunity to show them that this is a different thing, and we are not Cinefamily, we are not that.”

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