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Westwood and Brentwood Theatres: an overview

A ramble through the theatres of Westwood and Brentwood...

Westwood Village was the third significant theatre district to evolve in Los Angeles. The theatre business had started downtown, of course. In the mid 20s Hollywood became the second area with a major concentration of first-run theatres and the site of fancy premieres.

With the construction of the UCLA campus beginning in the late 20s there was a chance to develop a unique shopping and entertainment district for faculty and students. Janss Development, the firm that was the developer for the district, cultivated a uniformity of style while still encouraging unique forms for the various buildings. By the 1970's the area had evolved so that Westwood had the largest concentration of first run screens of any neighborhood in Los Angeles.

With the decline of the traditional theatre districts downtown and in Hollywood, having a premiere and exclusive run at a Westwood Village theatre gave a film a touch of class that couldn't be duplicated elsewhere in the city. Sadly, Westwood has lost almost all of its screens in recent years. With the advent of multiplexes, the demise of exclusive runs, and the rise of other Westside locations things aren't what they once were in Westwood.

In the postcard we're looking up Westwood Blvd. from Wilshire. In the center is the tower of one of the district's survivors, the Fox Westwood Village. Thanks to Brian Michael McCray for the card from his terrific collection.

Eventually all the data for these theatres will be on new pages here on this site. At the moment, many of the links will take you to pages on the older Movie Palaces Along Wilshire website.

Brentwood Theatre
11301 Wilshire Blvd.

This theatre on the Veteran's Administration campus opened in 1942 as an entertainment facility for veterans. During the 40s the theatre was heavily used for USO shows, movies and lectures. Later it saw only occasional use. The 500 seat theatre got a renovation in 2004 and is now used for legit theatre as well as occasional film screenings. For more information see the page on the Brentwood Theatre.

Brentwood Theatre
11611 Wilshire Blvd.

This 414 seat house perhaps opened around 1935 and closed around 1950. It's been demolished. For more information see the page on the Brentwood Theatre.

Brentwood Twin Theatre
2524 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica

This building had started as a bowling alley and was converted into a 600 seat twin theatre in the 70s. It was an independent operation running second run double features. It was also known as the Brentwood I & II. Cineplex Odeon operated the venue for a while in the 80s as a first run house. They exited after opening their new Broadway 4 on the 3rd St. Promenade and competition increased from other nearby complexes. For more information see the page on the Brentwood Twin.

Bruin Theatre
948 Broxton Ave.

The 1937 vintage house is a design of  S. Charles Lee. It currently seats 696, all on a single level. The Bruin remains a major first run venue. Long operated by Mann Theatres, in 2010 it became, along with the Fox Westwood across the street, part of the Regency Theatres chain. For more information see the page on the Bruin Theatre.

Crest Theatre
1262 Westwood Blvd.

It opened as the UCLAN in 1941, a design of Arthur W. Hawes. The 500 seat house has also been known as the Metro, the Pacific Crest, the Westwood, Westwood Crest and Majestic Crest. When Pacific had the house it received a big deco style makeover in conjunction with Disney. As of 2017 it's closed and for sale. For more information see the page on the Crest Theatre.

Festival Theatre
10887 Lindbrook Dr.

It opened in 1970 as the United Artists Westwood in part of a building that was originally designed by Russell Collins for the Ralph's supermarket chain. The theatre, seating 560 with a balcony, was later remodeled by United Artists Theatre Circuit as the UA Egyptian. Cineplex Odeon took over the lease and remodeled again for a 1988 opening as the Odeon. After Cineplex lost their lease, a bidding war resulted in the operation going to Mann Theatres and a new name: Mann Festival. The theatre closed in 2009. For more information see the page on the Festival Theatre.

Fox Westwood Village
961 Broxton Ave.

This 1931 vintage theatre was a design of Percy Parke Lewis, evidently his only theatre design. The 1,489 seat project was a joint venture of Fox West Coast Theatres and Janss Development, the developer of Westwood Village. Still a top first run house, it became a part of the Regency Theatres circuit in 2010. Long known for its top quality sound and projection, it has always been a favored house for major premieres. Under Mann Theatres management it became known as the Village Theatre, a practice continued by Regency. For more information see the page on the Fox Westwood Village.

Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90024

The Geffen is a 525 seat legit theatre offering a varied season on both the main stage and the smaller Audrey Skirball Kenis stage. The building was constructed in 1929 as the UCLA Masonic Lodge. It was a furniture store, Contempo Westwood, in the early 60s. The auditorium started being used for shows while it was still a furniture store. You could browse for your new bedroom set during intermission. It was then known as the Westwood Playhouse. At some point the furniture disappeared but the shows continued. It later was renamed the Geffen Playhouse. For more information see the page for the Geffen Playhouse.

iPic Theaters / Avco Cinemas
10840 Wilshire Blvd.

The complex was opened in 1972 as a tri-plex by General Cinema. The large theatre was twinned in the 90's. It was later operated by AMC after the General Cinema bankruptcy. The theatres got a major overhaul and it's now a premium priced six screen venue with food service in the auditoria plus a full service restaurant called Tanzy. For more information see the page on the iPic Theaters.

Mann Westwood 
41050 Gayley Ave.

It was opened in 1975 by Mann Theatres as a tri-plex in a building that had been a Safeway. The largest auditorium was twinned in 1985. This was largely a moveover house for Mann. They closed it in 2002 and the location is once again in the grocery business as a Whole Foods Market. For more information (but not much) visit the page on the Mann Westwood 4.

National Theatre
10925 Lindbrook Dr.

It was opened in 1970 by National General, then the operator of the remnants of the Fox West Coast chain. It was acquired by Mann Theatres when they bought the chain and operated by them until 2007. The 1,112 seat theatre hosted many record breaking exclusive runs over the years and was known for its giant screen and terrific 70mm presentations. After Mann exited the theatre in March 2007 it was running for a while as an independent but closed again in October 2007. It was demolished in 2008. For more information see the page on the National Theatre.

Plaza Theatre
1067 Glendon Ave.

The 650 seat theatre was opened in 1967 by Laemmle Theatres and operated by them until 1991 when Mann Theatres acquired the lease. It closed in 2004 and was demolished for a new development encompassing the whole block. A bit more Information can be seen on the page about the Plaza Theatre.

Regent Theatre
1045 Broxton Ave.

Laemmle Theatres opened this 400 seat house in 1966 as a remodel of a building constructed for retail use in the 40s. Mann later ended up with the lease. Landmark Theatres got it in 2002 and did a general refurbishing. Their policy was first run or moveovers of mainstream product. Lots of Disney, etc. The property is going to be converted into space for two restaurants. For more information see the page on the Regent Theatre.

Royce Hall - UCLA
340 Royce Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90095

It opened in 1929 as the original building on the UCLA campus. The first performing arts season was in 1937. The building, designed by James Edward Allison & David Clark Allison, was modeled in part on the 10th/11th century San Ambrogio church in Milan. The 1,834 seat venue has hosted numerous greats including George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Arnold Schoenberg, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It's the main performance venue for the UCLA Center for the Art of Performance series and is considered one of the nation's top concert halls.  For more information see the page on Royce Hall.

United Artists Westwood 4
10889 Wellworth Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90024

This house opened as the UA Cinema Center in 1972, a remodel of an auto showroom. It later was known as the UA Coronet and finally as the UA Westwood. It opened as a 4-plex but in the final years was only 3 as the two smallest auditoria were combined to make a larger one. United Artists closed it in 2001. It's now been remodeled into a CVS pharmacy. In the photo you can see the Crest Theatre just down the street on Westwood Blvd. as we look north toward Wilshire. For more information see the page on the UA Westwood 4 Theatres.

Wadsworth Theatre
11301 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90073

This 1,378 seat theatre on the Veteran's Administration campus opened in 1939. It's used for legit theatre, concerts and lots of special events totaling about 100 a year.  In 2002 it had a thorough renovation and its art deco interior is in pristine condition. For more information see the page on the Wadsworth Theatre.

Billy Wilder Theatre
10899 Wilshire Blvd.

This 295 seat venue in the Hammer Museum building opened in 2006. It's used both for various programs of the museum but also as the major screening site for the UCLA Film and Television Archives. For more information see the page on the Billy Wilder Theatre.

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