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Fox Inglewood

115 N. Market St. Inglewood, CA 90301  | map |

Possible news: It could be that Thomas Safran & Associates have sold the Fox to Debbie Allen and Norm Dixon. A June 4, 2022 post on the blog 2 Urban Girls had this item from someone calling themselves Inglewoodian: 

"... wanted you to know that some entertainers just bought damn near the whole North end of Market Street which includes the Fox Theatre and where the Wood BBQ is. A former Lakers basketball star, and others are the new owners. Apparently they are going to build an entertainment venue complete with a rooftop bar."

Thanks to the sleuths at the Facebook page Esotouric's Secret Los Angeles for spotting the post.


Opened: March 31, 1949 with “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College,” starring Clifton Webb and Shirley Temple. Both appeared at the opening. The Fox replaced the Granada Theatre which was destroyed by fire in 1945. The theatre is on the west side of Market a block and a half north of Manchester. The United Artists that was across the street has been demolished.

The 1955 photo by Alan Weeks is in the collection of the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society.  Thanks to Sean Ault for locating it. It also makes an appearance in an album from Metro Library and Archive on Flickr.

Seating: 1,008 with the upper section done stadium-style.

Architects: S. Charles Lee and Carl G. Moeller designed the building for Fox West Coast using elements out of Fox's standard "Skouras Style" sourcebook. It's very similar to a number of other Fox circuit theatres up and down the coast, especially the Fresno Crest and Sacramento Crest. The construction cost was reported to be $400,000.

At a time when much design was getting the modern look, the head of Fox West Coast Theatres, Charles Skouras, had his architectural team in the late 40s and early 50s take a different tack towards a lush neo-baroque feel. The program was an attempt to create a program so theatres could be remodeled (or constructed from scratch as the Fox Inglewood was) in an economical fashion while creating a new sumptuous feel for post-war audiences with new expectations of luxury.

While many of the buildings ended up quite different from each other, you could always spot certain prefabricated elements: lush red draperies, exotic gold plaster swirls encompassing the proscenium, etched aluminum surround panels at the snack bar and drinking fountains, etc. The basic program was applied to hundreds of theatres. While the components differed, the consistent style was unmistakable. Fox maintained its own huge assembly plant to produce many of the decorative elements.

In a remodel it might be just a shiny "padded-looking" gold and aluminum snack bar and a few Skouras swirls below the proscenium like the Palace downtown. Or it could mean gutting the building and ending up with a totally new creation in an old shell like the Crest in Sacramento.

The Fox Inglewood was once popular as a venue for sneak previews. In addition to the Fox lettering, the vertical had an overlay of neon tubing saying "Preview" that could be flashed on and off on preview nights. It the first theatre in Inglewood to have air conditioning. It also featured headsets for the hearing impaired and a cry room.

Closing: Mann Theatres, the successor company to Fox West Coast and National General, was still running the house in the late 1970s. The United Artists across the street was for a time called the Fox II. For its final years, the Fox was running as a Spanish language film house. It closed in 1984.

Since closing it's just been sitting there as a curiously well preserved period piece. Hillsman Wright has called it "a time capsule from 1949." The theatre was added to the National Register in 2013. In 2009 the owner was trying to sell the building for the best offer he could get above $200,000. 

Status: The building has been owned since around 2018 by Thomas Safran & Associates, a firm specializing in developing affordable housing projects. No plans for the building have been announced. Escott O. Norton of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation reports that the firm has no desire to be in the theatre business and has no plans to retain the building's use as a theatre due to its present deteriorated condition.

Saving the facade and perhaps the lobby are possibilities. Yet Safran has indicated a willingness to retain the theatre if a qualified tenant were to emerge. The firm also has other property on Market St. as well as three completed residential projects nearby.

The Fox in the Movies: 


The Fox is the site of a terrorist bombing in "Wanted Dead or Alive" (New World Pictures, 1987). The crime drama, directed by Gary Sherman, stars Rutger Hauer as the bounty hunter solving the case and Gene Simmons as the terrorist who has some past issues with Hauer. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for eight more shots of the action at the Fox.



 "Do you really like movies? When's the last time you went to see a movie in a theatre?... A movie that really meant something to you?" asks Lindsey Lohan in Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" (IFC Films, 2013). This wide-angle shot of the Fox is in the opening credits for the film, which begins and ends with desaturated views of abandoned movie theatres. Written by Bret Easton Ellis, it's a thriller about some sad people on the fringes of the film business. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for shots of other theatres from the film.

The Fox on Video: See "Insider's Peek #1," a 4 minute video on You Tube with Hillsman Wright of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation.


The ticket lobby:


The original look of the boxoffice. It's a c.1949 photo that appears on a page about the theatre from the City of Inglewood's Inglewood Public Art website. This photo and two other vintage views have vanished from the online version of the page but still appear on a PDF that can be downloaded.



A look at the boxoffice in 1976. Thanks to Matt Spero for his photo.



A c.1984 view after the Fox had become a Spanish language house. It's a photo by Matt Spero. 


 
A view inside the long-dormant boxoffice by New Stone Age that appeared with "Touring the Fox Theatre," a story by Zack Behrens on LAist about the 2010 LAHTF tour. The version of the story surviving online seems to be missing its photos.

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is actively involved in the study and preservation of the many vintage theatres in the Los Angeles area. The group frequently supports events and offers tours of the buildings. www.lahtf.org | group Facebook page | official FB page



The ticket lobby in 2014. Thanks to Matt Lambros for his photo. It's one of eleven great views appearing with his 2015 "After The Final Curtain" post about the Fox Inglewood. In addition to the blog, there's also a Facebook page detailing his theatre explorations. The Fox is one of the theatres featured in Matt's book "After the Final Curtain: The Fall of The American Movie Theater." It's available on Amazon.


The main lobby and lounges:


Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for this 2010 lobby view, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page.



A c.1949 look at the telephone booth, drinking fountain and house left ramp into the auditorium. The photo appears with a page on the Inglewood Public Art website. The photo isn't online anymore but can be seen on a PDF.



Checking out the snackbar. Photo: Matt Lambros - 2014 



A lobby light fixture. Photo: Matt Lambros - 2014



A plaster detail. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2010



A Skouras-style water fountain. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2010 



A lounge area. That column on the right is from a platter system once in the booth. Thanks to New Stone Age for the 2010 photo. It appeared with "Touring the Fox Theatre," a story by Zack Behrens on LAist about the 2010 LAHTF tour. The version of the story surviving online seems to be missing its photos.


The auditorium:


A c.1949 photo from a page about the theatre from the City of Inglewood's Inglewood Public Art website. The photo can be seen on a PDF version of the page.



A look forward from the crossaisle. Photo: Matt Lambros - 2014



A ceiling detail by New Stone Age that once appeared with "Touring the Fox Theatre," a 2010 story by Zack Behrens on LAist.



The ceiling dome as we look back toward the booth. Thanks to Don Solosan for his photo. It's one of five that appeared with Adrian Glick Kudler's 2012 Curbed L.A. Article "Fox Inglewood Theatre on Its Way to National Register.



A sidewall view. Thanks to New Stone Age for the 2010 photo.



A sidewall light fixture. Similar fixtures appeared in many Fox West Coast theatres of the era. Photo: Don Solosan - Curbed L.A.  - 2012



Heading down the aisle. Thanks to Don Solosan for his 2009 photo appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page. Also see Don's photos of the boxoffice and snack bar.



An area of the carpet with a mushroom crop.  Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2010



A proscenium view. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2010. Also see his view from the back row.



A closer look at the curtain -- ready for a show. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2010 



A detail of the painted aluminum panel on the floor in front of the curtain. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2010



A 2008 look back toward the booth by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. The photo appears on their site MarchandMeffre.com. Visit their Theaters portfolio for great views of the venues they've explored. They're mostly on the east coast but they did pay a visit to the Westlake. This image also makes an appearance in the duo's book "Movie Theaters" (Prestel, 2021). Images from the book appear with "Beauty and decay: Inside America's derelict movie theatres," an August 2021 post on the site Wallpaper.



Checking out the upper seating section. Note the cry room to the left of the booth. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2010. Thanks, Michelle!

See more of Michelle's adventurous theatre explorations in her "Theatres-California" set on Flickr. More photos of the Fox Inglewood: light fixture | cash register | marquee letters | boxoffice | terrazzo detail | snack bar | exterior view |



An uncredited look down from the top that once appeared on the Facebook page for the restaurant Wich Stand. Thanks to Stephen Russo for spotting it. 



Looking down from the back row. Photo: Matt Lambros - 2014


In the booth: 


A view across the booth. There's a dumbwaiter for film cans down at the far end. Photo: Matt Lambros - 2014. Thanks, Matt! Pay him a visit at AfterTheFinalCurtain.net to get news of his latest explorations, workshops, and books.



A closer look at machine #2. It's a Simplex E-7 with a RCA 9030 soundhead and a Peerless Magnarc lamp. Thanks to Warren Dewey for his 2009 photo on Cinema Treasures.



A view back in the other direction. Thanks to Don Solosan for his photo from the LAHTF Facebook page. He notes that the cry room is through the door seen out the far end of the booth. Note the amp rack for the Ampex mag stereo system by the door with a 4 channel monitor on top. 



 A view from the booth appearing on the Inglewood Fox Theatre Alliance Facebook page.


More exterior views: 


1952 - A lovely panorama looking north on Market St. with the Fox on the left. On the right is the Ritz Theatre with the United Artists beyond. It's a detail from a much larger photo by Joseph Fadler taken for Southern California Edison that's in the Huntington Library collection. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for finding it in the collection for his Noirish post #37847.



1955 - Thanks to the now-vanished American Classic Images website for this fine view looking south toward the United Artists and the Fox. 



1958 - A fine view of the theatre's signage by Pat Underwood that appears on a page in the Neon Theatre Southern California section of Syd Nagoshi's site Roadside Peek. Bill Gabel also has it as a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.  



c.1960 - A great shot looking south on Market St. The United Artists is on the left (running "A Summer Place" and "Moby Dick") and the Fox is on the right. The photo appears on the Online Archive of California site as a contribution from the Inglewood Public Library.



1961 - South on Market St. in a June photo with the United Artists on the left running "Konga" and the Fox on the right with "The Young Savages." The photo is on Calisphere as a contribution from the Inglewood Public Library.



1975 - A look up the street at the Fox. It's a photo in the Inglewood Public Library collection appearing on Calisphere.



1976 - Thanks to long-time projectionist Matt Spero for this photo he took. 



1983 - Thanks to American Classic Images for this view of the theatre as a Spanish language film house.



1980s - A look south by an unknown photographer. On the left the United Artists is in its Fox Cinema II days. 



1987 - A Paul Chinn photo taken for the Herald Examiner. It's in the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.



late 1980s - A post-closing shot by filmmaker and cinematographer Gary Graver. Wikipedia has an article about him. Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photo. More of his photos of dying single screen theatres can be seen in two compilations on You Tube: "Second Run - part 1" and "Second Run - part 2."  



1980s - Another view by Gary Graver.



2009 - Thanks to Don Solosan for this photo, one appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page.



2010 - A look at the abandoned theatre at dusk. Photo: Bill Counter



2018 - Absolutely nothing happening. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for her photo on Facebook. It also made an appearance on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.

More information: Cinema Treasures has a page on the theatre. Check out the 2005 LA Weekly story "Welcome to Inglewood -- Leave Your Aspirations Behind" for a nice discussion of Inglewood and what happened to it by Erin Aubry Kaplan.

Curbed LA ran a story "Fox on the Auction Block" in December 2009. An auction was set for February 2010 but didn't happen. There was hope that the City of Inglewood would consider purchasing the building. That didn't happen. A 2012 Curbed LA piece "..On Its Way To National Register" featured a selection of photos by LAHTF's Don Solosan.

The Inglewood Fox Theatre Alliance (IFTA) was formed with the goal of building a coalition to restore the Fox as a multi-purpose entertainment venue. That organization evidently has been dormant since 2014.

The 2015 Matt Lambros "After The Final Curtain" article on the Fox Inglewood has a good history of the building along with many of his fine photos. 

The LAHTF had been trying to drum up support for the plan by giving tours and organizing community meetings. On the LAHTF website see a 2015 advocacy statement noting the building's prospects as seen at that time. Also see their separate page with a 2017 advocacy statement.

See our page here on this site about the Granada Theatre, earlier at this location. 

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