Showing 13 comments
I attended opening night at the AMC 15 Century City in 2005, King Kong with Jack Black was showing that night. The theater is the flagship of the AMC chain and, as such, has incredible technology and a unique and grand entry design that’s quite impressive and very Hollywood.
The large auditoriums are the best to see a popcorn movie, screens are huge and sound is incredible. Unfortunately, staff are not very well trained, incompetent and apathetic are better adjectives. Often, there is not an adult to be seen managing the place. Prices are outrageous but this is the Beverly Hills area and Century City Mall was recently completely renovated at a cost of more than a BILLION dollars.
The AMC 15 Theater itself was not remodeled but has recently added new technology to a couple of its auditoriums. Nice, but there are substantial up-charges to these auditoriums, prices are in excess of $20. Yes, prices are high unless you have an AMC card that allows you to see any three movies a week for $25 a month; that’s a deal. The card also provides credits and discounts for the concession stand where a large popcorn is regularly $9, but refills are free.
LA is a movie theater aficionado’s paradise with a number of great drive-ins and movie palaces remaining, such as the Chinese Theater and the Westwood Fox still showing movies. Also still existing are a number of the grand movie palaces of Downtown LA, such as the Orpheum, the Los Angeles, the Palace, the Loew’s State, the Million Dollar, the Warner, and others. These theaters no longer show movies, except on special occasions such as the wonderful Last Remaining Seats series each summer. Imagine seeing Charles Laughton in the silent version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame with a full orchestra and a Mighty Wurlitzer organ in the fully renovated, as new, Orpheum movie palace. Wow!
The Lakeview and the Beacon theaters, both on Harrison Ave., meant a great deal to those of us growing up in Lakeview in the 1950s and 60s. Admission for kids was .25 and .75 for adults. Popcorn was just .10 at the Lakeview, .12 at the Beacon. As architecture, the Beacon with it’s lighthouse lake theme was superior to the econo-box Lakeview theater; but as a kid these things are beyond your notice. All that mattered was the excitement of going to the movies. But not above notice was the incredible beauty of the Saenger Theater located in downtown New Orleans, a nearly 4,000 seat atmospheric movie palace.It’s grandeur is worth checking out elsewhere on the site. Fortunately, I attended these neighborhood theaters so many times that every detail of both remain forever etched upon my memory. One thing is certain, theaters are magical places.
Contrary to what is stated above, the Loews State was saved from the wrecking ball. And the New Orleans City Council rejected the plans proposed by a hotel developer to essentially gut the theater and make it the entrance to a new hotel. Hope remains that the theater will be saved. New Orleans is fortunate in that nearly all of its large downtown theaters survived and all except the Loews have been freshly restored. The Civic, the Joy, the Orpheum, and the Saenger, are open and thriving. The St. Charles Theater, the Strand, and the Liberty, long ago were razed.
The Belasco, The Mayan, The Orpheum, The United Artist – now Ace Theater, The Palace, and the Los Angeles Theater are all in great condition and benefit from a thriving gentrification of downtown Los Angeles. Billions of dollars are being invested in new residential and conversions of old hotel and office buildings to residential; the streets have come alive. Nightlife is flourishing and downtown LA is now hip, vibrant, and growing again. Unfortunately, downtown’s skid row and the thousands of homeless along with the blocks upon blocks of encampments bring a stinging blight and a sense of concern for one’s safety that mars this otherwise incredible revitalization of downtown Los Angeles.
Sorry folks, this theater was open till at least 1959 when I saw the original screening of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty with my mom. I remember well that the theater was quite old, but what I remember best is that my mom bought me a Sleeping Beauty souvenir from a table of merchandise outside the entry doors in the arcade. It would be nice if someone would post interior photos of this theater.
The sale to Gregor Fox dooms this theater to sit for years in its current state of damage and deterioration. Mr. Fox stated in a local news article that he plans to first renovate the commercial retail space within the building to then fund the renovation of the theater; a process that may take up to ten years. Personally, I do not believe him. I think his intention is to use the leases from the retail spaces on Canal to pay the annual taxes until he can flip the property to legitimate developers years from now at a tremendous profit. Mr. Fox has little experience in real estate development, nor does he have the resources, or experience, to renovate a 1920s movie palace to its former glory. He purchased the theater and the property it sits on for just $3 million. Mr. Fox believes that the theater can be fully renovated for $10 million, this when the renovation of the Saenger Theater located across from the Loew’s was recently performed at a cost exceeding $50 million. I hope I’m mistaken, but there is no evidence that the Loew’s is coming back anytime soon. Every indication is that it will remain a blight on Canal Street for years to come.
Here is a link verifying the information I have provided…
Spent most of 1977 in Little Rock while working as a radio personality at the Mighty 1090, KAAY, and at KLAZ-FM. Also worked at Tramps Restaurant and nightclub on Cantrell as a club DJ just after it opened when crowds were lining up to get in.
My stay in LR was fun and featured seeing the 1977 version of King Kong at the Razorback Drive-in. I remember the place being very large by drive-in standards, and packed to capacity. I also remember seeing that year’s James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, at a 1940’s style neighborhood theater just a few blocks North of Cantrell, but I cannot remember the name of the theater.
My time in Little Rock was all about the moments I was lucky to have enjoyed behind the mic at KAAY. Growing up in New Orleans, I often listened to the station and wanted to work there badly as it was only one of a handful of 50,000 watt AM clear channel stations that played Top 40; that was a big deal back then.
I remember my night at the Razorback like it was last weekend. Fortunately, we still have a few great drive-ins remaining here in Los Angeles. And yes, I still occasionally take my family to the drive-in.
Thanks for the extensive history on the Village Theater. I saw The Natural at this theater in 1983 in the converted balcony theater. On my way out I peaked into the main auditorium which was still in original form at the time, it was exquisitely 1930s and had a great feel.
It was a real loss that this theater was gutted and its original architecture lost, but at least it can be said that people have been enjoying cinema in this building for nearly 80 years, that’s quite a run.
Obviously, the theater’s spanish mission architecture was inspired by architect S. Charles Lee who designed such theaters all over Southern California. In fact, this Dallas theater is similar in many, many ways to the Village Fox in Westwood next to UCLA, which was built in 1930. Check out its photos on this site to see the resemblance.
The value of theaters like the Village, when preserved in their original state, is immense. They provide a sense of character to a community that no multiplex will ever provide, no matter how fancy or large. Just tonight, I saw a showing of Frozen at the El Capitan in Hollywood, an incredibly beautiful movie palace that is leased and operated by Disney. The theater was as much an entertainment as the movie. See photos of it too on this site.
The Orpheum was recently sold and is now scheduled to enjoy a $16 million restoration correcting he longstanding damages resulting from hurricane Katrina.
Good news for New Orleans theater lovers, all of the remaining downtown theaters have been restored, or, are in the process of restoration to their original beauty. Loews, Civic, Joy, Saenger, and the Orpheum all live again.
Breaking news! Contracts have been signed to execute a full restoration of the Loews State Theater and its satellite properties. The New Orleans Downtown Development District and MCC Group, a local contractor, inked a deal on 2/5/14 to invest $32 million to return the facility to its former glory as a legitimate theater and entertainment venue.
This on the legs of the recent $52 mIllion restoration of the opulent Saenger Theater opposite the Loews, the city’s $47 million renovation of the Mahalia Jackson Theater soon after after Katrina, a recently announced $16 million restoration of the Orpheum, and $5 million restorations of both the Joy and Civic; all downtown. Just outside of downtown, several million are being invested in the restoration of a large 1940’s neighborhood theater that once served the black community, the Carver.
As such, ALL remaining New Orleans theaters once abandoned, or those severely damaged by Katrina, will, in effect, be new again… These are exciting times for theater lovers in New Orleans.
At the height of the Drive-In craze in New Orleans, the Airline was hugely successful. Not just for the movies, families brought their kids to have fun in the large playground directly under the screen; it was always packed and you often saw the same kids from weeks before.
As a young boy, at just four years old in 1957, I broke my wrist coming down the slide head first… No, there was not even a thought of suing the theater.
I can remember looking up at the huge 70' tall screen and being mesmerized with how gigantic it was. But being New Orleans, a city surrounded by swamps, it is the mosquitos that one remembers most; there was no getting away from them.
The Airline sat adjacent to the main railway heading West out of New Orleans, and trains, both freight and passenger, went by frequently; often blocking the entrance/exit to the theater and causing considerable frustration.
My last visit to the Airline was in 1975 and is somewhat unforgettable. After hours of ignoring the movie and fogging up the windows with my girlfriend, we failed to notice the movie had ended and everyone had left. The theater operator came with a flashlight and tapped on the window. This was only the beginning of our embarrassment because my 1956 Olds Delta 88 refused to start and required a jump.
After that, my girl insisted we never go back.
Damaged by the flooding in Lakeview as a result of Katrina the building was recently razed. No real loss since the once thematic lighthouse architecture of the original building design was lost long ago in an effort to modernize the theater in 1968. No evidence this building was once a theater remained after becoming a bank.
Those who grew up in Lakeview in the 60’s will surely remember the unusual ticket lady we all called “The Bun.” Appropriately called so because she always sported the once popular “beetle” hair style of the 40s. She was a dead ringer for Joan Crawford.
Every Friday and Saturday nights in the 60s this place was a madhouse packed with neighborhood kids running wild. It was a blast.
The Beacon was simple neighborhood theater architecture boasting little interior decoration. Most memorable feature of the interior was a purple neon clock on the wall left of the screen.
Anyone have a picture to post or link???
The Philharmonic also used the St. Charles Theater as its rehearsal hall up until the time of its razing. As a boy of 11 in 1964, I sang with the philharmonic and remember rehearsing in the run- down musty theater.