Criterion Theatre

1315 3rd Street,
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres, Mann Theatres, Metropolitan Theatres, National General Theatres

Firms: Engineering Service Company

Styles: Spanish Renaissance

Nearby Theaters

Criterion blade sign down the street, mid `50s. Photo courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful FB page.

The Criterion Theatre was opened February 2, 1924. By June 1938 it was operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. It was closed by Mann Theatres on December 20, 1977 and was taken over by independent operators. Metropolitan Theatres chain took over on February 16, 1981 and it began screening Spanish language movies.

It was demolished, apart from the fa├žade, and the new Mann Criterion 6 opened on June 27, 1990.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 33 comments)

William on April 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

The 1981 photo is when theatre was leased by Metropolitan Theatres along with the Cine on the Mall (aka: El Miro).

DonSolosan on December 18, 2009 at 10:30 pm

That linked photo that Lost Memory posted on Dec 22, 2006 is more “new” Criterion than “old” Criterion. Like the El Miro down the street, it was so modified that it earned a new page here.

nixols on December 10, 2012 at 11:04 am

12/7/12 Santa Monica Daily Press “…The property owner of the Criterion 6 received permission in November to convert the theater into general retail…”

Navan on April 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm

a crime to this historic theater is about to take place in the form of casual permission by a city that no longer cares about its past or citizens, for the owner to demolish and convert this into more expensive stores and unaffordable condos/apartments. If they did care, they would put a stop to this and declare it a landmark. Just another nail in the coffin of downtown Santa Monica.

DonSolosan on April 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Nixols and Navan, the Criterion Theatre was (mostly) demolished. The Criterion 6 which stands there now (and has its own page here, where this discussion is ongoing) is the historic facade of the old building on a brand new structure.

Also, where did you get the idea that they’re going to demolish this? The article only talks about converting the building…

ScottyA on June 3, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I loved this theater when I was a kid! What a grand auditorium! I spent every Saturday afternoon there, seeing Disney double features. In the early ‘70s, kiddie matinees were 75 cents a ticket! Which left 25 cents to buy candy across the mall, at Woolworths.

I made one end-of-the-road visit, in the late ‘80s. Whew! By then, it was a nasty grindhouse, with men sleeping. It was so beyond hope that they didn’t even have glass in the projection booth window anymore — so you could hear the equipment clanging away. Sad.

DavidZornig on April 1, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Criterion photo in this article.

rivest266 on March 15, 2021 at 12:31 pm

The Criterion theatre reopened showing Spanish movies on February 16th, 1981. Grand opening ad posted.

DavidZornig on February 27, 2023 at 6:47 pm

August 1954 photo in Santa Monica History Museum Facebook link below.

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