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Fox Venice

620 Lincoln Blvd. Venice (Los Angeles), CA 90291 | map |

The news: Revised renovation plans were detailed in Steven Sharp's April 26, 2021 Urbanize article "Renovation in the works for Venice's Fox Theater." Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein for spotting the story.

A rendering from DFH Architects appearing with the Urbanize article. Sharp discusses the new plans:  

"Last week, an entity affiliated with Santa Monica-based Roque & Mark Realtors submitted an application to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning to revamp the mid-century building, which was converted from a movie theater into an indoor swap meet roughly 30 years ago. The project, which is being designed by DFH Architects, calls for razing existing retail space along the northern side of the property, which would be converted into an outdoor seating space and new angled parking. The lost space would be offset by a 3,508 expansion on the southern side of the building, adding new retail in an area which was previously occupied by a nursery. The resulting structure would include 15,822 square feet of commercial floor area.

In addition to the modifications to the building, plans call for converting the existing theater lobby facing Lincoln Boulevard into an 891-square-foot cafe, with outdoor seating under the Fox's marquee sign. The theater's mezzanine level is slated to be converted into 3,163 square feet of office space. The property owners also intend to restore the 'FOX' pylon sign by adding neon light accents and lit channel graphics similar to its historic appearance..."

In the 2019 version of the project Trader Joe's was to be the primary tenant. The plan then was to leave only the pylon and front wall and demolish the rest. The site Real Deal discussed the move in their January 2019 story "Two-Buck Chuck time: Venice set to get first Trader Joe's." The article noted that at the time the property had been recently purchased by the boutique firm Roque & Mark Real Estate. That version of the redo was to have been designed by Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh.

Opened: August 17, 1951 with a preview of the feature "Meet Me After the Show," a 20th Century Fox film starring Betty Grable. The photo of opening night is one of a set of six by a Mr. Sandusky in the USC Digital Library collection taken that night by the Los Angeles Examiner. The regular bill starting the day after the opening was "The Frogmen" and "Strangers on a Train."

The building is on the east side of the street about 13 blocks north of Venice Blvd. Lincoln Blvd. as it goes through Venice is also Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.

Architect: It was a fairly standard Fox West Coast Skouras-style building. The architect of record is not known. Presumably Fox West Coast's in-house designer Carl Moeller had a hand in it.

A drawing of the theatre's facade in the Herald Examiner collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. Ralph Morris gets the credit by the Library for photographing it.

An August 17, 1951 opening day ad for "The Truly Perfect Theatre." Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating it.

Seating: 1,003 - all on a single level

The Fox Venice ran conventional Hollywood movies until 1973 when it became a daily change revival house under the management of Cumberland Mountain Cinemas.

 A November 1977 calendar from the collection of Adsausage Archives.

Landmark Theatres took over the operation in 1979.  Thanks to Richard Orton for sharing his discount card on a post on the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page. He had only used 7 admissions but his card expired in November 1981. 
Beginning in 1984 Rafigh Pooya operated the house under the name Fox International running films from India and elsewhere.

Some listings for the theatre in May 1987. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this for inclusion on a thread about the theatre on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.

Closing: It closed in mid-1987, allegedly due to asbestos issues.

An item that appeared in January 1988 that discussed Pooya's problems with his landlord and asbestos. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this.

After being closed for nine months, Pooya's lease ran out in April 1988. This item appearing that month was located by Ken McIntyre.  
The news was also covered in an April 21 L.A. Times story titled "Venice: Fox Theater Officially Closes." It's on the Times' website. The text: 

"The Fox Venice Theater, which in recent years has become an important venue for first-run foreign films in Los Angeles, officially closed last week--months after the last movie was shown. 'We tried until the very last, but sometimes you have no control over these things,' said film maker Rafigh Pooya, whose lease on the theater at 620 Lincoln Blvd. expired. The theater was closed last June after health inspectors found that samples of the soundproofing material on the walls and ceiling contained large quantities of amacite, one of the more hazardous forms of asbestos.

"Pooya, who had revived the theater as a showcase for high-quality art films from Europe and the Third World seldom distributed in the United States, had accused the building’s owners of 'dragging their feet' in making repairs. Albinas Markevicius, a Santa Monica real estate developer who is among the building’s several owners, said that a cleanup of the asbestos, which began last month, should be completed in another two weeks. 'We intend to try to lease the building soon,' he said. 'We have no preference as to whether it remains a theater, as long as (the building’s use) is in compliance with zoning laws.'"

Status: Despite the alleged asbestos issues, the building was repurposed as a swap meet called the Fox Discount Store. It remained fairly intact but with a flat floor and was still in use in 2021.

The Fox Venice in the Movies: 

We get a look at the fully draped auditorium of the Fox in "Messiah of Evil" (International Cine Film Corporation, 1973). Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Cleveland Phil for spotting the theatre in this tale about a mysterious cult in a strange California seaside town. The film, also known as "Dead People," was directed by Willard Huyck and stars Michael Greer and Marianna Hill. The six minute long theatre scene featuring Joy Bang is on YouTube. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for three more shots from the scene at the Fox.

Stephen Nathan is a worried producer pacing the Fox Venice lobby during the big premiere of his work in "The First Nudie Musical" (Paramount, 1976). The book, music, and lyrics for the movie are by Bruce Kimmel. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for sixteen more shots from the film including another lobby shot and many views of Hollywood theatre signage.

Interior views: 

Thanks to the Ronald W. Mahan Collection for sharing this early auditorium view. It's a photo taken by Western Photo Co. that was once in the Grosh Scenic Studios collection. Ron comments: "Simple but elegant! Very unusual to see what appears to be an ante-proscenium lighting position in the ceiling for lighting the curtain."

A detail from the photo. Thanks, Ron! 

Looking in from the front doors. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Across the lobby from house left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Looking through the merchandise toward the screen. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Down the house left aisle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

A wiggly plaster detail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The proscenium. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The front of the booth. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

More exterior views:

The 1951 opening of the theatre. The photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection is by Ralph Morris, a popular commercial photographer working from 1939 until 1981.

Another August 17, 1951 Ralph Morris photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

A view of the opening night crowd under the typical Skouras-style marquee of the Fox Venice. It's a Ralph Morris photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 

Also in the LAPL collection by Ralph Morris: stars at the opening | stars under the marquee | more celebrities |

Thanks to Michael Hayashi for this 1957 look at the theatre, a post of his on the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page. Note the guys up working on the Fox lettering on the tower.

A 1968 view of the Fox Venice playing "Yellow Submarine." It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.

A 1982 look at the Fox Venice playing a double bill of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai." That must have been a long evening. Thanks to American Classic Images for the photo. It also appears with Steven Sharp's April 26, 2021 Urbanize article "Renovation in the works for Venice's Fox Theater," where they credit the image to the City of Los Angeles.

A 1983 photo by Mike Sergieff taken for the Herald Examiner. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

A c.1988 shot by Mike Sergieff for the Herald Examiner that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Note that the Fox lettering is gone from the tower.

Thanks to Martin for this fine view of the building. It once appeared on his now-vanished site 

The area where the boxoffice had been. The original front doors of the theatre have been removed. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010 

A view south on Lincoln Blvd. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The former Fox Venice from across the street. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A view from a bit farther south. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The north side of the complex. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The tower. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The Fox at dusk. The c.2020 photo appears with Steven Sharp's April 26, 2021 Urbanize article "Renovation in the works for Venice's Fox Theater," where he credits the image to the City of Los Angeles.

More Information:  See the Cinema Treasures page on the Fox Venice for lots of stories and links to additional exterior photos. 

Pat Hartman's Virtual Venice site has a great article on "The Fabulous Fox Venice" detailing its history as a revival house.

For more general Venice history, the place to go is Jeffrey Stanton's amazing Venice History Site.  Don't miss his Movie Making in Venice and Ocean Park section. Mr. Stanton is the Author of "Venice, California - Coney Island of the Pacific."

Also check out the website Venice History.

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