El Rey Theatre

230 W. 2nd Street,
Chico, CA 95928

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: T & D Jr. Enterprises, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Firms: Starks & Flanders

Functions: Live Performances, Movies (Classic)

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Majestic Theatre, National Theatre, American Theatre

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News About This Theater

El Rey Theatre 2012

This was opened as the Majestic Theatre in 1905. The theatre now has a very bland flat façade, but a nice orange and red marquee. The vertical sign is flat against the façade. From September 1, 1925 it was known as the National Theatre, operated by T & D Jr. Enterprises chain. They changed the name to American Theatre on March 18, 1939. I was badly damaged by a fire on October 24, 1946.

It reopened on June 25, 1948 as the El Rey Theatre with Bud Abbott & Lou Costello in “The Noose Hangs High”. It was closed in March of 2005. It was scheduled to be gutted and converted into office and retail space with parking. However, in late-2007 it had re-opened as a live performance venue. It was closed in 2017 and reopened February 10, 2018.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

WJCoady on February 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm

The El Rey is showing movies again! The schedule is on the JMAX website,

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 13, 2011 at 3:22 am

The use of the phrase “store-front theatre” in the first paragraph of the description makes no sense. This building was built as a vaudeville theater in 1905, and has always been a theater, both before and after it was rebuilt following the 1946 fire.

Bill Coady is correct. The El Rey is showing old movies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with very low admission prices. Furthermore, they take requests on the theater’s Facebook page. There are also many live events upcoming. Apparently the theater is doing well.

The “Save the El Rey” web site that Lost Memory linked to on January 22, 2008, no longer has anything to do with the theater, and now exists only to host advertising links. There’s no point in clicking on it.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

scobee on September 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Current update – The EL Rey is in the process of being sold to a franchise pizza restaurant. It has operated as a concert/event/film space for the past 9 years. The potential new owners plan to turn it into a two story building with high end apartments upstairs and a restaurant below, To my knowledge, there are currently no plans on the part of the potential new owners to maintain it as a theater. Last night, the Chico city counsel voted unanimously to add it to the next counsel meeting agenda, to discuss adding it to the city’s historical preservation listing as well as the legality of doing such. If anyone has any verifiable historical facts on the theater, they would be great to have for the city counsel meeting in 2 weeks. More info can be found at www.elreychico.org

DavidZornig on June 11, 2017 at 10:57 pm

1963 photo added courtesy of Kris Vierra.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 12, 2017 at 12:55 am

The El Rey’s Facebook page lists no events since a concert on February 10. I don’t know how long it’s been since they ran a movie, but I’m quite sure the place does not have any digital projection equipment.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2018 at 2:27 am

The El Rey, dark for some time, is reopening tomorrow night, Saturday, February 10, 2018, with live performances. Here is their web site. Proceeds from this event will go to continuing renovations of the house.

Sunday night the theater will present the 1938 film Robin Hood, much of which was filmed in Chico’s Bidwell Park.

rivest266 on October 31, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Renamed National on September 1st, 1925.

rivest266 on October 31, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Became the American theatre on March 18th, 1939. Grand opening ad posted.

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