Welcome to the beach town theatre tour!
Here you'll find a survey of theatres on Catalina, in downtown Santa Monica, and south down the coast in areas including San Pedro, Wilmington, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.
There's also a new Along the Coast: theatre list by address page to browse.
If you're looking for something that doesn't appear here but is in the Santa Monica / Venice vicinity you could check the Westside Theatres section. There were name changes for many of these theatres. All the known alternate names are listed on the Westside theatres: alphabetical list page.
For searches in a wider geographical area consult the the Main L.A. alphabetical list, which also includes alternate names for the venues. There is also a main L.A. theatre list by address.
| Brentwood Theatre | Brentwood - VA campus | Brentwood Twin | Wadsworth - VA campus |
| Avalon Theatre | El Encanto Playhouse | New Strand/Riviera Theatre | Strand Theatre |
| Old Town Music Hall |
| Hermosa / Cove / Bijou Theatre |
| AMC Marina Pacifica | AMC Pine Square | American | Art - 4th St. | Art - Pike | Atlantic | Bentley | Bijou | Brayton | Byde-A-Wyle | Cabart | California | Cinemark at the Pike Outlets | Circle Drive-In | Coughran Opera House | Crest | Dale | Ebell | Edison | Egyptian | Fairyland | Fox Belmont | Fox Long Beach | Front Door | Gaiety | Hart | Home | Imperial | Joyland | Kid Mexico's Miracle Block | La Petite | La Shell | Lakewood Drive-In | Lakewood Theatre | Laughlin | Long Beach Drive-In | Long Beach Theatre | Los Altos Drive-In | The Lyceum | The Movie | Municipal Auditorium - 1905 | Municipal Auditorium - 1932 | Palace | Paradise | Pastime | Plaza | Queen Mary | Redondo | Regal Edwards Long Beach 26 | Regal UA Long Beach | Rialto | Ritz | Rivoli | Roxy | Santa Fe | State | Strand | Tabernacle | Tarrytown / Palace of Pictures | Terrace | Towne | Tracy | United Artists | UA Long Beach | Wigwam / Victor | West Coast |
| La Mar Theatre |
| Bob's Theatre | Brooks Theatre | Crescent Vaudeville Theatre | Dome Theatre - 1916-1924 | Dome Theatre 1924-1969 | Empress Theatre | Family Theatre | Grand Theatre | La Grande Theatre | La Petite Theatre | Ocean Park Auditorium | Ocean Park Casino | Ocean Park Municipal Auditorium | Rosemary - c.1910-1912 | Rosemary - 1912-1913 | Rosemary - 1913-c.1919 | Rosemary - c.1919-1924 | Rosemary - 1924-1969 | Seaside Theatre | Shell Theatre | Star Theatre | Starland Theatre | Wonderland Theatre | Also see the Venice listings.
| Bay Theatre |
| Art Theatre | Capitol Theatre | Fox Redondo | Redondo Pavilion/Auditorium/Pavilion Theatre | Strand/Surf/Marina 1-2-3 |
| Alhambra Theatre | Auditorium Theatre | Barton Theatre | Fox Cabrillo | Electric/San Pedro Opera House | Empire Theatre | Fisher's Theatre | Globe Theatre | Lyric Theatre | Majestic Theatre | New Theatre | Royal Playhouse | San Pedro Drive-In | Star Theatre | Strand Theatre | Victoria Theatre | Warner Grand Theatre |
| Aero Theatre | AMC Santa Monica 7 | Arclight |Arena Cinelounge | Elmiro/Broadway 4 | Bundy Theatre | Criterion Theatre | Hitching Post | La Petite Theatre | Mayfair Theatre | Monica Film Center | North Beach Auditorium | NuWilshire Theatre | Orpheum Theatre | Pussycat Theatre | Santa Monica Civic Auditorium | Steere Opera House |
| Grand/Torrance Community Theatre | Rolling Hills Theatre | Stadium/Pussycat Theatre | Torrance Theatre |
| California/Venice Theatre - Ocean Front Walk | Fox Venice Theatre | Neptune Theatre | Unique Theatre | Venice Auditorium | Venice Theatre - on the Pier | Also see the Ocean Park listings.
| Avalon Theatre | Granada Theatre | Capitola Theatre |
The 425 seat house opened in January 1940, a design of P.M. Woolpert. After a $1 million rehab the theatre is now run by American
Cinematheque and offers almost daily changes of program including lots
of classics. New projection and sound equipment includes 70mm
capability. For more information see the page on the Aero Theatre.
This film house was running by 1912 and maybe made it to the early 1920s. The image is a detail from a pre-opening photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The building survived for another 50 years after the theatre vacated and only got demolished as part of the Beacon St. redevelopment project in the 1970s. For more information see the page on the Alhambra Theatre.
This 600 seat design by the firm of Hunt and Burns opened in 1912 right on the beach. The 1920 photo is from the California Historical Society. The Art was taken over by West Coast Theatres in 1920 and ran until 1928 when it was demolished for construction of the Fox Redondo. For more information see the page about the Art Theatre.
This legit venue offering comedies and musical theatre was running by 1908 and presumably survived until the mid 1920s. The image is a detail from a card in Joe McKinzie's collection from his Arcadia book "San Pedro." For more information see the page about the Auditorium Theatre.
This 1,184 seat atmospheric house was a 1929 design by Sumner M. Spaulding and Walter I. Webber. The theatre is on the ground floor with the Casino building's ballroom above. The theatre is still a first run house, open nightly throughout the year. For more information see the page on the Avalon Theatre.
This 1,200 seat theatre designed by Richard D. King opened in 1923 as the Metropolitan. The early postcard is from the Ron Felsing collection. Later it was renamed the Hermosa Theatre. In the 70s it was twinned and operated as the Cove Cinemas and the Bijou Cinemas. It closed for good in 1996 with the space later used as an art gallery. It's now a branch bank and office space. For more information see the page about the Bijou Cinema.
2734 Main St. Ocean Park
Bob's was a film house run by R.H. Irwin that didn't stick around very long. It made it into the 1913 Santa Monica city directory but the address was vacant when they compiled the 1915-1916 directory. The building on the site is possibly the one that housed the theatre. For a bit more information see the page about Bob's Theatre.
opened in 1934 as the Elmiro Theatre, a design of Norman W. Alpaugh.
Only the facade of the original 900 seat theatre remains. Cineplex Odeon
put a 1,200 seat
4 plex in a new mixed use building constructed in the 80s. It's now
AMC. It's also been known as the Loew's Elmiro, Cine Latino, Cinema on
the Mall and variations on the Broadway 4 name used by Cineplex Odeon,
Loew's, and AMC. For more information see the page on the Broadway 4.
Ocean Front Promenade near Ashland St. Ocean Park
The building, attributed to John Parkinson, opened in 1907 as the Casino. It got remodeled into a 710 seat film and vaudeville house in 1912. The image is a detail from a postcard. It was the town's leading venue for movies until 1929 when the Fox Redondo opened. The Capitol was running at least until the mid 1940s. For more information see the page about the Capitol Theatre.
336 N. Avalon Blvd. Wilmington
124 W. 5th St. San Pedro
This one, just west of Beacon St., opened around 1917 and ran until perhaps 1928. For more information see the page about the Empire Theatre.
118 Ashland Ave. Ocean Park
This one opened in 1913 as the Herald Theatre, located between Speedway and Trolleyway. By 1915 was renamed the Empress. It evidently closed in 1916 or early 1917 as it's not in the 1917 city directory. For a bit more information see the page on the Empress Theatre.
Corner of 4th and Beacon San Pedro
This 944 seat house opened in 1926, a project of C.L. Post of the Post Cereals family. West Coast Theatres was the operator, later Fox West Coast. After it closed in the 50s, Metropolitan Theatres rescued it as a Spanish language house, the Teatro Granada. The 1983 photo is from the American Classic Images collection. It closed in 1992 and was a church until 2013. It now has a new owner but plans for it are unknown. For more information see the page about the Granada Theatre.
Ocean Front Promenade, north of Pier Ave. Ocean Park
This theatre was running in 1912 but the opening date is unknown. It was lost in the September 3, 1912 fire that destroyed the pier as well as most of the Ocean Park business districr. For a bit more information see the page about the Grand Theatre.
Hitching Post Theatre
1448 4th St. Santa Monica
It was opened in the mid 40s by ABC Theatres, one of 5 theatres eventually opened under the Hitching Post name. The venues typically offered double features of westerns. "Check your Guns at the Box Office." The ABC circuit later abandoned the westerns and in the early 50s turned the theatre into an art house, the Riviera Theatre. The 600 seat theatre was running as late as 1952. Closing date is unknown. It's been demolished. For more information see the page on the Hitching Post.
La Grande Theatre
Marine St. Ocean Park
The La Petite, originally operated by Billy Clune and C.M. Bockoven's Southwest Amusement, opened in the Ocean Park Auditorium Building at the foot of Pier Ave. in 1906. In 1909, under new owners, they moved across the Promenade to a theatre designed by Alfred Rosenheim, seen here in a detail from a postcard from the collection of the late Chrys Atwood. When that one burned in the big fire of 1912, they built another on the site that ran until 1923. For more information on the buildings see the page about Ocean Park's La Petite Theatre.
La Petite Theatre
1434 3rd St. Santa Monica
The La Petite Theatres migrated through several locations both in downtown Santa Monica and in Ocean Park from 1907 through 1923. In 1909 this downtown location became the Dreamland Theatre. It was later known as the Lyric Theatre. The building was converted to retail by 1919. For more information see the page on the La Petite Theatre.
S. Beacon St. between 5th and 6th San Pedro
This film and vaudeville venue was evidently running in 1908. Not much else is known at the moment but there's a page started for the Lyric Theatre.
407 S. Beacon St. San Pedro
This house opened with films and vaudeville in 1911 as Hyman's Theatre, run by a gentlemen who also had a couple in downtown L.A. Thanks to Paul Tanck for the early photo. Hyman was out by the end of 1911 and left town after declaring bankruptcy. It next became the Neptune and survived until 1928. The building, or at least parts of it were around until the early 1990s. For more information see the page about the Neptune Theatre.
W. 5th St. and Palos Verdes St. San Pedro
It opened as the El Segundo Theatre in 1921, evidently a replacement for an earlier theatre in town. It's also been known as the State Theatre. It reopened as the Old Town Music Hall in 1969 after installation of the organ from the West Coast in Long Beach. The house is open on weekends featuring silents and early talkies. For more information see the page on the old Town Music Hall.
1511 3rd St. Santa Monica
First located on Ocean Front Promenade north of Pier Ave., the Rosemary got burned out in the 1912 fire that consumed the pier and business district. It took up a temporary home on Trolleyway but by the summer of 1913 was in a new building out on the rebuilt pier. Sometime around 1919 it moved to a new home on the Promenade at the north side of the pier entrance. This one was burned out in 1924. Location #5 reused the entrance to the Dome Theatre south of Pier Ave. but was a new building behind that. The image is a detail from a postcard showing that last home. The theatre closed in the 50s and was later used as a test house for the D-150 process. Demolition was in 1969. For more information see the pages about the five Rosemary locations: Rosemary #1 - c.1910-1912 | Rosemary #2 - 1912-1913 | Rosemary #3 - 1913-c.1919 | Rosemary #4 - c.1919-1924 | Rosemary #5 - 1924-1969.
1016 W. 7th St. San Pedro
This Pacific Theatres operation opened in 1949, a design by William Glenn Balch. The theatre closed c.1990. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the post-closing look at the screen tower. The site has been redeveloped. For more information see the page about the San Pedro Drive-In.
San Pedro Opera House
205 W. 6th St. San Pedro
It opened in 1990 and seats 2,100 on 3 levels. 2 theatres are in the basement, 2 on the main floor and 3 smaller auditoria are upstairs. It currently runs first-run films on its 7 screens. For more information see the page on the AMC Santa Monica 7.
3011 Ocean Front Promenade Ocean Park
There's not much known about this one. The location shows as a curio shop on a 1909 Sanborn Map. By 1911 it's a theatre, listed in the 1911 Santa Monica city directory as being at 836 Ocean Front. They later did a bit of renumbering. It was across from the Ocean Park Auditorium and just up the block from the La Petite after they moved to the east side of the Promenade. For more information see the page about the Shell Theatre.
It was running in the 40s and early 1950s. We get a fuzzy glimpse of the Star out on the pier behind Ann Sheridan and Dennis O'Keefe
Foster's "Woman on the Run" (Universal-International, 1950). It's set in San Francisco and we're
pretending it's Playland at the Beach but we're really in Ocean Park. For a bit more information see the page on the Star Theatre.
Beacon St. at 5th St. San Pedro
This 1,000 seat film and vaudeville house opened in June 1911, initially an operation of Billy Clune. It was designed by Alfred Rosenheim, who also did the Cameo and the Morosco/Globe. It ended up with Globe Amusement, who took it over shortly before it burned in a spectacular pier fire in September 1912. The image is a detail from a postcard in the USC collection. For more information see the page on the Starland Theatre.
Steere Opera House
N.E. corner 3rd. St. & Broadway Santa Monica
This 1,000 seat house opened as the California Theatre in 1920 on the beach side of the walk just north of Windward Ave. Thanks to David Doherty for the 1937 photo. Later renamed the Venice, it ran until 1952. It was later demolished, along with all the other structures on the beach side of the Walk. For more information see the page on the Venice Theatre.
115 W. 6th St. San Pedro
This deco gem opened January 20, 1931 as the Warner Bros. San Pedro with
"Goin' Wild" with Joe E. Brown. In the 80's it was renamed the Warner
Grand. It's also been known as the Warner and the Teatro Juarez. Like
the sister theatres in Beverly Hills and Huntington Park, it was
designed by B. Marcus Priteca. The 1,523 seat theatre has been owned
since 1996 by the City of Los Angeles. The Warner hosts live events and
occasional film screenings. The theatre is being gradually refurbished.
For more information see the Warner Grand pages: history + exterior views | lobby areas | auditorium | stage + basement | booth |
2939 Ocean Front Promenade Ocean Park
This one was running in 1913 as the Princess Theatre. By 1915 it had become the Wonderland. It was on the east side of the promenade just north of Pier Ave. The closing date isn't known. The two-story building that had housed the theatre is seen in the center of this 1922 Los Angeles Public Library photo. For more information see the page about the Wonderland Theatre.
Beach town history resources: Sam Gnerre's Daily Breeze article "South Bay Movie Theatres of the Past" offers a survey of some of the historic theatres along the coast. Realtors Maureen and Bruce Megowan have some great material in the South Bay History section of their website.
Hermosa Beach: Penny Postcards From California has oodles of cards to browse through including a section on Hermosa Beach.
Manhattan Beach: The Manhattan Beach Haunts Facebook group has some fine photos. The Manhattan Beach Historical Society has a website with history and photos.
Ocean Park: Early Ocean Park views can be found in the Arcadia Publishing's Postcard History Series has titles "Santa Monica in Vintage Postcards" and "Early Los Angeles County Attractions." Ocean Park postcards can be found on the sites Card Cow and Penny Postcards from California. Visit the blog "Ocean Park History." On Facebook, head for the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica page for many vintage photos and lots of discussion.
For a detailed history of the Ocean Park piers see Jeffrey Stanton's articles "Fraser's Million Dollar Pier," "Fraser / Pickering / Lick Piers (1913-1924)," "Amusement Pier Fires" and "Ocean Park Pier (1926-1956)." Also see his great maps of the Fraser Million Dollar Pier - 1912 and the Pickering and Lick Piers - 1923. See the L.A. Fire Department's Historical Archive for an article on the Million Dollar Pier Fire of 1912. Note that some of the photos are of the 1924 fire.
Scott Charles has done a lovely job of overlaying 1940 vintage aerial photos of the Santa Monica, Ocean Park and Venice piers on top of a current map of the area. He discusses his project on Noirish Los Angeles post # 46596. Also see his full image: https://i.imgur.com/0ZApE6Z.gif
Pacific Ocean Park: On Facebook, head for the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica page for many vintage photos and lots of discussion. See Jeffrey Stanton's memorial site devoted to "Pacific Ocean Park (1958-1967)." Also head to the home page of his Venice History Site.
See "The Underground Site of P.O.P." for lots of interesting photos. Wikipedia has an article about POP. On YouTube there's the 2+ minute tour "Pacific Ocean Park 1960" and also three minutes of footage titled "Pacific Ocean Park." We get a fine chase and shootout in the pier's ruins with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Roy Scheider in Jacques Deray's "The Outside Man" (United Artists, 1973).
Pacific Ocean Park opened July 28, 1958 and closed October 6, 1967. Some demolition happened in 1969, a series of arson fires in the ruins occurred between 1969 and 1974 and final demolition was in the winter of 1974-75.
Redondo Beach: The Redondo Beach Historical Society has a number of interesting vintage photos of that city. Check out the Arcadia Publishing book "Redondo Beach Pier" by Jennifer Krintz. There's a preview on Google Books. There's a history page about the city on the website of the City of Redondo Beach. The site Penny Postcards form California has an arrar of Redondo Beach postcards.
San Pedro: The Arcadia Publishing book "San Pedro" by Joe McKinzie has a preview online via Google Books. The site Card Cow has over 200 San Pedro postcards. Penny Postcards from California also has a nice selection. The David Rumsay Map Collection has a fine 1938 Thomas Brothers San Pedro and Wilmington map online. The site SanPedro.com has a postcard gallery. There's also a page 2.
The San Pedro Bay Historical Society has a fine collection of photos and clippings but very few online. Also see the SPBHS Facebook page. The USC Digital Library has hundreds of San Pedro photos online. The Water and Power Associates Museum pages have a terrific selection of early San Pedro photos.
Santa Monica: The Water and Power Associates DWP museum pages have a fine series of photos of Santa Monica. See "Early Views of Santa Monica page 1" and Early Views of Santa Monica page 2."
The Library of Congress website has several maps of interest: 1902 Sanborn Map - including Ocean Park | 1909 Sanborn Map -- including Ocean Park and Venice | 1918 Sanborn Map | 1963 Sanborn Map | They also have some maps from the 1880s and 1890s.
Venice: Arcadia Publishing's "Venice" and "Early Los Angeles County Attractions" from their Postcard History Series, have fine early view of the pier and other amusement attractions. Venice postcards can be found on the sites Card Cow and Penny Postcards from California. Brent Dickerson has some great historic views of Venice on his "Hollywood and Venice" tour. On Facebook, head for the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica page for many vintage photos and lots of discussion. The Huntington Library has a nice c.1910 Venice of America map.
Consult Jeffrey Stanton's epic book "Venice California - Coney Island of the Pacific."Also see his terrific Venice History Site hosted on Westland.net. There's a Venice Timeline on the site as well. Articles include Abbott Kinney Pier, Venice Amusement Pier and Movie Making in Venice and Ocean Park. Maps on the site include Abbott Kinney Pier - 1920, Venice - 1925, and the Venice Pier - 1925. Also see site's separate Venice History section that was compiled by others.
Wilmington: The Water and Power Associates Museum pages have a terrific selection of early Wilmington views. Arcadia Publishing's "Wilmington" is available for preview on Google Books.
| back to top - Along the Coast | Along the Coast: theatre list by address | Long Beach: survey page | Long Beach: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: overview | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Hollywood theatres | Westwood and Brentwood theatres | Downtown theatres | North of Downtown and East L.A. | Glendale theatres | San Fernando Valley theatres | Pasadena theatres | San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier | South, South Central and Southeast theatres |