Opening: May 2, 1940 as the News-View. It reopened in November 2017 as the Hologram USA Theater. The signage was ready long before the theatre was. Photo: Bill Counter - July 2016
Architects: Norstrom & Anderson were the architects in 1940, Harry Wright was the contractor. The theatre building as well as the deco four-story building at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Cherokee Ave. date from 1929.
Seating: 386 originally
The building permit for conversion of what had been retail space into a newsreel theatre was issued February 1, 1940. Beginning in 1941 it was an operation of a newsreel chain called Tele-View. Previously the firm had a short run down the street at the theatre later known as the Hitching Post. In the 1942 city directory it's listed simply as the Newsreel Theatre.
In this November 11, 1950 L.A. Times ad they're calling it Hollywood's Newsreel Theatre to distinguish it from the Newsreel downtown, a theatre better known as the Tower. Between 1938 and 1949 the Globe Theatre had been known as the Newsreel.
The News-View name stayed on the building least until the mid 50s. It was later known as the New-View. The "s" came down and was replaced by a longer hyphen when the house gave up the newsreel business and converted to features. Frequently in ads the name lacked the hyphen.
John Gordon Huber notes that in 1968 it was where "Bonnie and Clyde" played exclusively during its sub-run. The theatre did so much business it justified adding a snack bar, when before they only had vending machines in the lobby. The film had originally opened across the street at the Vogue Theatre.
It once had an infamous nightclub, Masque, in the basement. Pacific Theatres was the operator of the New-View in the 60s and early 70s. There was occasional soft core porn film in the early 70s. One booking featured winners from the 1973 New York X-Rated Film Festival. At other times it played decent double features or triple feature action bills. Pacific was running it into mid-November 1974 at which time it started running serious porno as an independent operation. That only lasted a couple weeks.
By the end of November 1974 it had become part of the Pussycat chain but still was called the New-View. It didn't get renamed the Pussycat Theatre until the following spring. The permit to install new signage and remodel the facade was issued in March 1975. The marquee installed at that time is the one currently on the building, later upgraded with LED panels. You can still see the repurposed frame for the oval Pussycat signage atop the facade. The big booking as the Pussycat was "Deep Throat" and "Devil in Miss Jones" -- running about 10 years. In 1989 it became the Ritz and was booked as a revival theatre.
The end as a regular film house was in 1991. It became a church in 1994. The church was gone by the end of 2015. Work on the marquee and facade for renovations to turn it into the Hologram USA Theater began in December 2015. The signage was all redone by mid-2016 and for a year and a half the flashy marquee was advertising a Billie Holiday hologram show as "coming soon" that never seemed arrive due to work stopping on the project. Construction resumed in the fall of 2017.
The theatre finally reopened in November 2017 featuring pseudo-holographic presentations of famous entertainers. It's a project of Alki David, best known as head of the internet-based TV provider FilmOn. The initial shows were "Billie Holiday Alive" and the "Sexy Hollywood Freakshow." Typical running times of the theatre's shows are about 30 minutes each. Admission is $29.95 with a buy one, get one free offer.
The Ritz in the Movies:
A look east on Hollywood Blvd. during the filming of Paul Mazursky's "Alex in Wonderland" (MGM, 1970). The Ritz (in 1970 called the New-View) is down there in the distance on the right, partially obscured by smoke. That's a bit of the Vogue over there on the left. The film stars Donald Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn and Jeanne Moreau. Thanks to Bobby Cole for adding the photo to the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more shots showing the New-View and one of the Egyptian.
The New-View appears near the end of Tom Hanson's "The Zodiac Killer" (Audubon Films, 1971). There are also shots of the Vogue, the Hollywood Theatre and Warner.
We get a brief view of the theatre as the Pussycat, in Tommy Chong's "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie" (Universal, 1980). Thanks to Jonathan Raines for the alert about this one.
Mel Gibson comes out of a nightclub and ends up under the Ritz marquee for some mayhem near the end of Richard Donner's "Lethal Weapon" (Warner Bros., 1987). The film also stars Danny Glover.
Looking east on Hollywood Blvd in "Lethal Weapon" with the Vogue Theatre on the left, and across the street, the Ritz -- called the Pussycat at the time of the film.
We get some serious auto action on Hollywood Blvd. in "Lethal Weapon." We're looking west with the Ritz/Pussycat Theatre on the right.
Shepard Fairey does his bit to the old Pussycat oval atop the Ritz Theatre in Banksy's "Exit Through the Gift Shop" (Producers Distribution Agency, 2010).
The theatre's facade was returned to its look in the Pussycat Theatre days for Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (Sony, 2019). The film stars Leo DiCaprio and his friend Brad Pitt as an actor and stuntman trying to break into the business in 1969. Actually the theatre was still running as the New View in 1969. It wasn't the Pussycat until 1975. See the Historic L.A.Theatres in Movies post for many more shots of the Pussycat/Ritz, the Vogue, Grauman's Chinese and the Cinerama Dome.
Thanks to Christopher Crouch for this lobby photo taken while the theatre was a church. It appears on the the Cinema Treasures page on the Ritz.
A peek into the not quite finished lobby after renovations. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017
An auditorium view during the theatre's days as a church. Thanks to contributor Socal09 on Cinema Treasures for the photo.
A look at the stripped out auditorium during the hologram theatre renovations. It's an Allen J. Schaben photo for the L.A. Times that appeared with their October 9, 2017 article, "Meet the man..."
More exterior views:
A 40s look at the theatre that Ken McIntyre found on eBay. He had it as a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.
A c.1947 view of the theatre as the News-View from the Marc Wanamaker / Bison Archives collection of Hollywood Historic Photos. Look at that great banner underneath the readerboard: "One Hour Show -- SPEND A Worthwhile HOUR." Jack Tillmany notes that "Design For Death" got the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the March 1948 Academy Awards.
Note the "Tele-View" signage that has appeared atop the marquee. That chain had briefly operated the theatre that was later to be known as the Hitching Post as a newsreel house.
First News Junkies ran the photo with an April 2016 story about the theatre's proposed new life as a venue for viewing concert holograms. It's also been seen in a cropped (and non-watermarked) version as a post by Ken McIntyre on Facebook's Photos of Los Angeles. The page also had a re-post of a slightly different version. A smaller version of the photo also appeared on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.
A 1951 Life Magazine photo by Ralph Crane looking east on Hollywood Blvd.. It gives us a glimpse of the Ritz in its News-View days. It's on the far right -- we see "Newsreels," the lettering above the west readerboard and a squished look at the white News-View neon on the facade.
Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the shot for a post on his Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. It's also on Google/Life Images and Tourmaline has it on Noirish Los Angeles post #35733.
There's also this slightly different take by Ralph Crane for Life -- with banners across the street. It's in the Google/ Life Photos collection.
Another 1951 Life photo, this time looking west. Can you find the News-View/Ritz in the forest of neon this side of the Egyptian's green tower? Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting the photo in the Life collection and posting it on Photos of Los Angeles. On the same Facebook page Bill Gabel also has added another version. You can also find it on Tourmaline's Noirish Los Angeles post #35733.
A view of the theatre from Magnum Photos. Magnum dates it as 1951 and locates it in New York City, but we know it belongs in Hollywood. It is a photo by Elliott Erwitt and was located in the archive by Cinema Treasures researcher Joe Vogel.
"Welcome Santa - Merry Xmas To All" says the marquee in this 1951 Christmas parade view of the News-View behind the Marymount College float. It's a Los Angeles Daily News photo in the collection of the UCLA Library.
A look east on busy Hollywood Blvd. on November 28, 1952. In this great view located by Ken McIntyre for Photos of Los Angeles, you can see the Ritz readerboard (then saying "Newsreels" atop it) just above the second car on the right. The towers in the distance are the Warner. The theatre marquee on the extreme left is the Vogue.
The photo also appears on Vintage Los Angeles, SoCal Historic Architecture and Noirish L.A. post #10750. James J. Chun also did a repost on Photos of LA.
A lovely c.1955 view west from the Richard Wojcik collection on Vintage Los Angeles. On the left just past the intersection is the New-View/Ritz with the green tower of the Egyptian beyond in the distance. On the right, note the tower of the Vogue.
Richard notes: "No date, but streetcar service ended in 1954---because their tracks have been removed and the street looks recently paved, I think this is circa-1955."
A nice post on the site LAist, "Vintage Videos: Hollywood Blvd. in the 1940s, 50s and 60s," offers a great selection of short video clips focusing on Hollywood Blvd.
Here we get a shot of the New-View in 1956 from a Getty Images one minute clip from Alison Martino, of Vintage Los Angeles Facebook fame, called "Hollywood Blvd. part 3 1956, Part 3." It's on YouTube. Some of the same footage is included in a longer Hollywood compilation "Hollywood Blvd. 1957" loaded on YouTube by Craiglaca1.
A 1963 photo of the theatre from Getty images. Thanks to Bill Ware for posting it as a comment about a 1977 view on the Facebook page You know you grew up in Hollywood because....
A big line for "The Gay Deceivers," a July 1969 release. Thanks to Alison Martino for posting the photo on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. It was included with an number of photos and a discussion of Quentin Tarantino's returning the theatre to its Pussycat look for his 2019 film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."
The superb Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection includes this 1972 photo of the Ritz when it was the New-View playing "The Last Picture Show" and "Easy Rider."
The collection also includes a 1976 view from atop the building, a 1979 facade view and several others. Browse the site for more Hollywood theatre photos to purchase.
A 70s view west from Cherokee toward the theatre, then still the New-View. Thanks to Sean Ault for the photo from his collection. It's also been seen on Vintage Los Angeles as a post of Richard Wojcik.
A shot of a young Joan Jett outside the Ritz/ Pussycat Theatre. It's a 1977 Brad Elterman photo. You can find it on Mr. Elterman's website in the "old" section. He also has it on a SOKO- Joan Jett Story page where he re-created his Hollywood shots with Ms. Jett using the french singer SOKO as a project for Vice.com.
The photo also appears in Chapter 4 of Jay Allen Sanford's "Pussycat Theatres: A Comprehensive History of a California Dynasty."
Another view of Joan Jett in front of the theatre. Thanks to Donavan S. Moye for posting this one on the LAHTF Facebook page. Another similar shot appears on the Facebook page You Know You grew up in Hollywood because.... as a post from John Alvarez .
A photo taken early in the multi-year run of "Deep Throat" after the theatre was renamed the Pussycat. It appears in Chapter 4 of Jay Allen Sanford's history of the chain: "Pussycat Theatres: A Comprehensive History of a California Dynasty." This rambling book-length history is on blogspot in two sections: Chapter 1 and Chapters 2 to 15. It first appeared in the San Diego Reader in 2010 -- but their online version is now missing all its photos.
A shot from the 5th year of the "Deep Throat" run. Thanks to Sean Ault for finding the photo.
A photo of the theatre in its Pussycat Theatre days from Cezar Del Valle's collection. Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian. For other interesting material visit him on Facebook and on the Theatre Talks blog.
Thanks to Jay Allen Sanford for this shot taken during the final week of the "Deep Throat" run. It appears in Chapter 4 of his history of the chain: "Pussycat Theatres: A Comprehensive History of a California Dynasty."
The theatre c.1981 in its Pussycat days. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the post of the image on Photos of Los Angeles.
Thanks to John A. Mozzer for this shot he took in January 1987. It's with a few other Hollywood vacation views in his album on Jamworks/Smugmug.
"$2.00 Always 3 Big Hits." It's 1989 and the Ritz is running "The Abyss," "When Harry Met Sally" and "Night Game." The photo is a find of Ken McIntyre who posted it on Photos of Los Angeles.
Another 1989 photo, this time from the Billy Smith / Don Lewis album Vanishing Movie Theaters on Flickr.
The Ritz Theatre when it was running revivals c.1990. It's a Gary Graver photo. He was a filmmaker and cinematographer who took many photos of vintage theatres. More can be seen on You Tube: "Second Run - part 1" and "Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photo. See the Wikipedia article on Gary.
Thanks to Eric Evans on Flickr for this fine 1990 photo.
Ed Ruscha, perhaps better known for "Twentysix Gasoline Stations" and "Every Building on the Sunset Strip," also had a fling with Hollywood Blvd. Here we get a look at the Ritz in 1973 (as the New-View, top) and in 2002 (with Ritz signage but as a church, bottom). The video, part of the Getty initiative "Pacific Standard Time Presents:Modern Architecture in L.A.," has been posted by The Getty on YouTube as a five minute video, up one side of the street and then down the other.
Many of his works reside at The Getty. This one, from the "Streets of Los Angeles" archive at the Getty Research Institute, was part of their exhibition "Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future 1940-1990." Mr. Ruscha lives and works in Culver City.
A facade view before the "I" fell off the building. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this one -- he had it as a post on Photos of Los Angeles.
A facade view before the "I" fell off the building. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this one -- he had it as a post on Photos of Los Angeles.
The Ritz Theatre as a church. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007
The "R tz" Theatre in 2008. Down the street a bit (out of sight) on the left is the Egyptian. The Vogue Theatre is on the right. Musso & Frank's is just out of the frame on the right side. It's a view from Google Maps. Head there for a current interactive version.
A 2012 look at the facade by Ken McIntyre on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.
The Ritz getting ready for a new tenant after the church left the building. Note here that the "R tz Theatre" letters (the "i" had been missing for years) that were on the facade even when it was a church had just been removed. Photo: Bill Counter - January 2016
This was the view of the entrance for over a year. Why did the work stop for so long? The sign work was all done - and was on all the time advertising a show in an unfinished theatre. Work finally resumed in the fall of 2017. Photo: Bill Counter - July 2016
The theatre's entrance after reopening as a hologram theatre. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017
Around the back. We're looking in from Cherokee Ave. past the rear of the four-story building on the corner toward the back of the theatre. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018
Looking east toward Cherokee. Note the bricked-in windows from the building's life before its conversion to a theatre. The steps at the right are from the theatre's house left exit. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page for lots of discussion. The Cinema Tour page has additional exterior views of the theatre.
First News Junkies had an April 2016 story that had a bit of history and mentioned the hologram theatre project. Marielle Wakim had a September 2017 story for LA Magazine, "After months of delays..."
Alki David, the man behind the hologram venture, was profiled in "Meet the man determined to make celebrity holograms a major Hollywood draw," an October 9, 2017 L.A. Times article by Gerrick Kennedy. "This is the future of live entertainment," says David. "Imagine being Beyoncé and being able to play in front of 200,000 seats from one location. This is really a major paradigm shift in entertainment." David is also associated with Film On, the TV streaming company that has a presence on the signage.
In the article Kennedy noted: "Ironically, none of the companies [doing holographic entertainment] produce true holograms — that would be far too expensive. Hologram USA employs a derivation of a 19th century technique called Pepper’s Ghost, which projects a reflection of an image through angled glass (or in the company’s case, a flexible translucent foil) resulting in a two-dimensional image appearing 3-D. Universal Studios employs the same technology for its “Fast & Furious” attraction.
"For $20 a ticket, guests will see entertainers like Holiday, Jackie Wilson and Bernie Mac resurrected by the same technology that brought Tupac Shakur to Coachella in 2012 and saw Michael Jackson moonwalk at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards." Thanks to Donavan S. Moye for spotting the Times story.
The other Ritz: The perhaps more famous one was the Fox Ritz on Wilshire Blvd. It was gone by the time this one started using the Ritz name.
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