Opened: June 2, 1948. It's on the north side of the street just east of Reseda Blvd. In this 1956 postcard view east on Sherman Way we get a look at the original facade. They're advertising Rudolph Maté's "The Black Shield of Falworth" with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh along with Douglas Sirk's "All That Heaven Allows" with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. The card appears in the Billy Holcomb & Don Lewis Vanishing Movie Theaters collection on Flickr.
Architect: S. Charles Lee.
An item in the Valley News on June 21, 1951 noted that the theatre was owned and operated by Henry Kern and Bud Grensbach. The Reseda was later operated by Pacific Theatres and Metropolitan Theatres. In its final years as a Spanish language house it was advertised as the Cine Reseda.
Closing: It closed in 1988.
Status: It's been sitting vacant since it closed. Several restoration schemes have come and gone. The now-defunct website PreserveLA.com had a 2005 story boasting that the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency was then the "proud and official owner" of the Reseda. There was a request for proposals that went nowhere despite the CRA's statement that rehabilitation of the building was an important goal for the area.
In an April 16, 2008 story headed "A Revival in Reseda," the L.A. Times was overly optimistic about an $8 million project with the CIM group as developers. A spokesman for CIM was already discussing the kind of bookings the house would get. An August 2010 Curbed L.A. item by Dakota Smith titled "Reseda Theatre Site Up for Grabs" talked about that deal falling apart. The CRA was going to give them half the cost of the project and yet the deal still couldn't be pulled together.
The building fell into in a different kind of limbo with the 2012 dissolution of the CRA. In early 2014 a petition to "resurrect" the theatre appeared on MoveOn.org. The theatre got some new plywood over the entrance and paint on the facade in 2010 in an attempt at a bit of maintenance.
"After 22 years of deterioration..." In June 2016 city councilman Bob Blumenfield said the city was proceeding with negotiations for a developer to build a new building on the site incorporating housing and a six-screen theatre to be called the Laemmle Reseda. In his press release, Blumenfield noted that the signage would be restored in the new project. The new theatre was expected to have a total seating capacity around 500.
In "Shuttered Reseda Theater gets green light to become Laemmle multiplex," the July 2016 Los Angeles Daily News story by Gregory J. Wilcox it was noted that
At a February 2023 CicLAvia event Councilman Bob
Blumenfield's team was handing out flyers like this one indicating that the project is still alive. Thanks to Donavan S. Moye for grabbing this and keeping up with the news.
A look to the front of the long-closed theatre in 2005. It's a photo from Scarlett Lark that once appeared on the site Buzznet but has now vanished. The occasion was a CRA tour of the building. The interior was later stripped out.
More exterior views:
1958 - A photo from the Citizen-News. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. Their caption:
1963 - An MGM/Cinerama float publicizing "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" visits the Reseda. Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters for locating the trade magazine photo for a post on Cinema Treasures.
1966 - A photo appearing on "Early Views of the San Fernando Valley," a Water and Power Associates Museum page. It looks like someone has spent some time trying to erase a watermark.
1983 - The theatre as a Spanish language venue a few years before closing. Thanks to the now-vanished American Classic Images website for the photo.
2009 - A glamorous postcard view including the closed theatre. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding this one for a post for the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group. He notes that the giant donut once on the corner has been replaced with a gas station. Leonard Agoado commented:
2009 - The facade from across the street. Thanks to Don Solosan for this view taken for the now-dormant Theatre Committee of the L.A. Conservancy. And thanks to Hillsman Wright of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation for making the photo available.
2009 - A signage detail from Ken McIntyre.
2009 - Thanks to Don Solosan for this Christmas season view.
2009 - A look west at the boarded up entrance and some of the terrazzo. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for his photo.
2010 - A fine shot from Mark Peacock on Flickr. It's part of his Vintage Theatres and Drive-Ins album.
2012 - Hey, the CRA gave the theatre a coat of paint! We're looking east on Sherman Way. Photo: Google Maps
2016 - A view by Dean Musgrove included with a July 1, 2016 Los Angeles Daily News story by Gregory J. Wilcox titled "Shuttered Reseda Theater gets green light to become Laemmle multiplex."
2019 - The back of the building. Photo: Bill Counter
2023 - The street end of the mural. It's another photo by theatre explorer Dave Hunter. He featured three shots of the work in a June Facebook post. The Reseda photos were an addition to Dave's ever-growing Theatres album.
The Reseda in the Movies:
The biggest break the Reseda had in years was the inclusion in the title sequence of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights" (New Line, 1997). Thanks to the page about filming locations on the San Fernando Valley Blog for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another Reseda view as well as a shot from a visit to the Pussycat Theatre in Santa Monica.
The Reseda is included in "5 Landmarks in San Fernando Valley in Film," a 2019 article by Deja Magee on the CSUN site Sundial.
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Reseda for many stories. The Cinema Tour page has three post-closing exterior photos.
The Los Angeles Daily News had a good 2012 story about the 100th anniversary of the town and the current problems with economic development. There had been a 2006 article on the site about officials trying to reinvent the community.
Wikipedia has an article on Reseda which also includes a 2010 look at the theatre.
An earlier Reseda Theatre? In 1927 two Van Nuys theatremen planned a theatre in Reseda, evidently never built. It's mentioned in a July 3, 1927 L.A. Times item unearthed by Cinema Treasures contributor Jeff Bridges:
The Van Nuys Theatre mentioned was later known as the Fox Van Nuys. The Madrid Theatre was known in its later years as the Canoga Theatre and the Park Theatre.
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