Opened: 1947. It's on the east side of the street between 147th St. and Marine Ave. The photo is a 2019 view that appeared on the Gardena Cinema Facebook page.
Phone: 310-217-0505 Website: www.GardenaCinema.com
At some point is was called the Morning Calm Theatre. In the early 60s as the Park Theatre it was run by Harry Milstein's Grand Theatres as a second run house like their Grand and Stadium theatres in Torrance. Pacific Theatres was later involved. Sometimes it ran Spanish language films as well as occasional Korean and Japanese films.
In the late 70s and into the mid- 80s it was the Teatro Variedades with Mexican films and the occasional live variety show. In 1995 the same owners who had operated it since the 70s turned it into the Gardena Cinema, running as an independent single screen house with first run films.
Status: It closed in early 2020 as a result of pandemic restrictions and did not reopen. They did several drive-in events in late 2021 but nothing indoors.
The Gardena in the Movies:
Eddie Murphy, playing Rudy Ray Moore, checks out the theatre in Craig Brewer's "Dolemite Is My Name" (Netflix, 2019). He's made a film called "Dolemite" but can't get a distributor. While doing PR for a club date in Indianapolis a DJ in town (Chris Rock) says he knows the owner of a theatre.
He does a deal for a midnight show at the "Uptown Cinema" and when checking out the theatre asks the owner "When do I get my money?" and learns what a four-wall deal is all about. When asked if he can get a share of the popcorn revenue he's told "No, that's mine." We see more of the auditorium and, later, lobby and exterior views. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for lots of shots of the Orpheum Theatre from the film.
The Gardena on TV:
It's seen as a theatre called the Capitol supposedly somewhere in the San Fernando Valley in 1975 for "Summer of the Shark," episode 1 of "Voir," the 2021 Netflix "documentary" series. Thanks to the Cinema Heritage Group Facebook page for the screenshot.
Thanks to American Classic Images for this January 1983 view from their collection of the theatre as the Teatro Variedades.
A 2008 photo by Ken McIntyre. Head to this one in his Photobucket album and you can page ahead for two more.
A 2011 view. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for his photo, a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
More information: Check out the Cinema Treasures page on the Gardena Cinema. They also have a page for a Gardena Theatre on W. Gardena Blvd. that closed in the 50s.
The Cinema Tour page has several 2003 exterior views. There's a nice minute and a half video tour (even going to the booth) on YouTube, dating from 2012 when the venue was for sale.
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