SAN FERNANDO, Calif. — For six days in March 2020, a large cast and crew occupied Majers Coin Laundry here to film scenes for a motion picture featuring a family of Chinese American immigrants whose laundromat was being audited by the IRS.
The family-owned business serves to ground directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s mind-blowing sci-fi action comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which sees its lead actors jump into a crazily diverse array of alternate-universe selves as they attempt to save (or—spoiler alert—destroy) the multiverse.
Shutting down the laundry for nearly a week to host the motion picture production grabbed the local neighborhood’s attention at the time. But now that the 2022 film did well during awards season and won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and both Best Supporting categories) in March, Majers Coin Laundry has become a destination for “Everything Everywhere...” fans and other film buffs.
Owner Kenny Majers remembers the filming experience positively but admits that he’s still trying to figure out how to monetize his store’s newfound popularity born from the film’s success: “The tourists aren’t bringing their laundry. Well, maybe a few are.”
Majers’ grandfather built the laundromat in 1983. When he died in 1997, Majers’ father inherited it and was looking to sell the business that had fallen into disrepair. But it was Majers’ dream to own his own business and he was able to talk his dad out of selling. Instead, he leased it from him until his death and now owns it outright.
“It’s a freestanding laundromat, as you’ve seen in the movie,” Majers says. “It doesn’t have an apartment … on the roof; that was CGI’d.”
The self-service-only store covers approximately 2,800 square feet and offers 18 top loaders, 25 front loaders ranging from 35 to 80 pounds, and 58 dryer pockets: “It’s three different brands of equipment I have. Over the years, I’ve decided to go with certain equipment that I was comfortable with.”
Majers employs two attendants to assist him in running the laundromat. His wife, Irene, used to help out but she’s since graduated from nursing school and now works full-time as an RN, he says.
He decided against offering drop-off service, saying it’s “not my thing,” plus the demographics of his area don’t really call for it. The laundry opens at 5 or 5:30 a.m. depending on the day, with “last wash” at 9 p.m.
It was just another washday when Majers was approached by a woman who said she was scouting locations for a new movie.
“She said she liked the way the laundromat was freestanding,” he says. “She said she went to five different laundromats to get ideas, and they really liked the way my laundromat was freestanding, by itself, and not in a strip mall. A lot of the laundromats here in LA are in strip malls.”
Once he verified her identity and studio affiliation, they started negotiating. His primary concern was possibly losing customers that would impact him long-term.
“I told them, ‘You’ve got to make it worth my while, because to close down and lose one customer … the way I look at it, if I lose one customer, and that customer goes to another laundromat and they spend 10 bucks a week, that’s close to a thousand dollars a year. … If I lose 10 customers, that’s $10,000 a year. That’s the way I was thinking about it.”
Ultimately, he told them that if they paid him enough to put in a new parking lot—the subject of a lawsuit he was facing at the time—he’d go along with it. The cost to do that was close to $20,000. “I need the parking lot put in, and I don’t have the money for it (myself), so I have to risk taking the loss,” Majers says now.
The deal to film there was straightforward, he recalls, and he signed a written agreement without involving an attorney.
“They told me when I signed the contract, ‘You cannot change anything because we like it just the way it is.’”
In Thursday's conclusion: Memories from set and triggering some powerful emotions
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