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Reseda Theatre

18443 Sherman Way Reseda (Los Angeles), CA 91335 | map

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.

Seating: 900

An opening day ad. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating it. 

A 1948 ad located by Ken McIntyre.

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 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 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 

"In a 13-0 vote, the Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with developer Thomas Safran & Associates for a mixed-use project on the site near the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way. Area Councilman Bob Blumenfield said the agreement would 'bring commerce, art and culture back to the community.' 'Reseda is rising,' he told his colleagues. Safran was one of several developers competing for the negotiating agreement. The plan calls for a new Reseda Laemmle Theater at 18443 Sherman Way with 34 senior citizen units on top of and behind the theater building." 
The San Fernando Valley Historical Society had a July 2016 post about the project on their Facebook page that elicited many comments. Curbed L.A. was still optimistic with "Major renovation in store..." in November 2017. "Revival of Reseda Theater Moves Forward," Steven Sharp's May 2018 post on the site Urbanize L.A., noted that plans for the new project had been submitted. Thanks to Steve Gerdes for spotting that story. Thomas Safran, the projected developer at the time, is also the owner of the Fox Inglewood
One Laemmle employee noted in 2019 that the project was still on their list. There was a Laemmle Reseda Facebook page but it died around 2020 -- there had been no action on it since 2017. Before the 2020 virus lockdown changed plans, the firm's new complex in Newhall was nearly ready to open. They were just beginning construction on a theatre in Azusa and planning one in Bellflower, neither of which happened. The company sold the Royal in West L.A. but continues to operate it on a lease. The Playhouse 7 in Pasadena was sold and is now a Landmark Theatres operation. 
As far as Safran, they did build the 26 unit Reseda Theatre Senior Housing project around the corner at 7219 Canby Ave. -- on what had been the theatre's parking lot! They bailed out on the theatre part of the Reseda redevelopment. The housing project opened in 2023.

A new developer for the theatre part of the project. This rendering is from an Azure Development Co. page about the Reseda. The Azure plan was to start construction in 2020 for a 2021 opening. Hit the "Leasing Brochure" button on their page for a PDF with more information.

The floor plan from Azure for a 5 screen complex in 8,400 s.f. They mention a "tenant" on their website but there's no note of Laemmle being part of the project. Seating capacities would range from 16 in the two smallest theatres to 45 seats in the "big" house. 


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.

Interior views: 

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.

A 2005 sidewall detail by Ms. Lark. Thanks, Scarlett, where ever you may be.

More exterior views: 

1955 - We're looking east on Sherman Way from Reseda Blvd. with the theatre on the left running the 3-D feature "The Creature From the Black Lagoon." It's a photo from the Calabasas Historical Society appearing on the Cal State Northridge Oviatt Library website.

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: 

"MANY CAME EARLY - Many arrived early for the fall fashion show that was given yesterday morning at the Reseda Theater in Reseda. Actor-singer Byron Palmer sang and emceed. Peggy Strange was co-ordinator of the parade of fashions sponsored by Reseda merchants. Hundreds of persons filled the theatre for the style presentation."

c.1963 - A view after the facade remodel. Note a bit of a giant donut on the far left. This postcard is from the collection of Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar Del Valle. Keep up with his latest explorations on his Theatre Talks website. A version of the card also appears in the CSUN Oviatt Library collection, a donation from Tom Reilly.

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: 

"Back in the early '70s, the three-faced building on the right was a Thomas Organ store that had a wrap-around sign saying 'We'll beat any organ deal.' If you approached the intersection going southbound on Reseda, all you saw until you got close was 'We'll beat any organ'. Always got a snicker.."

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

2019 - Still waiting for the next chapter. The red sign on the facade advises caution as there's a hole in the roof. Photo: Bill Counter 

2023 - The mural on the west wall executed in 2022 by 11:11 Projects. Thanks to Dave Hunter for sharing his photo. He comments: "About a year ago, this group of murals spelling out the name of the town appeared on the side of the Reseda Theatre. Check out the YouTube short on the creation of it; makes me a little prouder to be living within walking distance of the theatre."

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:

"Reseda To Get First Theater - Reseda, July 2 - Reseda is to have its first motion-picture theater-a building that is to cost $35,000. This is the announcement made by N. Scheinberg and M.P. Horwitz, owners and operators of the Van Nuys Theater, and the Madrid Theater at Owensmouth. The Reseda house will be erected on Reseda Boulevard, north of Sherman Way. The Sloan Building Company of Los Angeles will have charge of construction. Plans will be by Roy Reeves, Van Nuys architect. Scheinberg and Horwitz are well-known Van Nuys men. Following their success at Van Nuys, they built the Owensmouth house a few months ago, with the promise that a similar playhouse would be erected in Reseda."

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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  1. It broke my heart when I was back in Reseda a few years ago and saw this place. We used to go to this theater, when I was little. Then, I saw the newspaper article saying that Laemmle was going to restore it. Hopefully, they'll fix this place up soon.

  2. I made a game where you walk around this intersection

  3. Hey, my sister and I used to work at Reseda Theater back in the early sixties. We would come in after school at Reseda High, or on Saturdays and Sundays, put on a sweaty uniform which another worker had recently taken off, and work the aisles, the candy counter, or the ticket booth. On Friday nights, I would go upstairs to check the women’s restroom, and the rough smoking girls up there would sneer at me, and keep smoking. At the Saturday matinee, sometimes they would pack the kids two to a seat. Our brother threw something at the screen and put a tear in it. Reseda Theater was a big part of our formative years, that’s for sure!

    1. Thanks for your recollections!

    2. I was raised in Reseda,elementary school went to Northride jr High
      Cleveland H.S Reseda Even attended
      Lapin Bros. School of Bty on Reseda blvd my first apt was the Fountain Apt Reseda blvd corner of strathern I'd tell ppl I live in Reseda whr the Karata kid lived. Lol I just lived up Reseda blvd at Cantara st on Darby Ave my friends and I on the week ends spent are good hard earned allowances At Reseda Theater in between horse backriding. As I got older Reseda drive in.i was always proud that I was from Reseda little was known about Reseda back in my day it's come up over the years an just so happens I came across this theater blog got interest.its really sad the theater finially ended, the drive in too. Not much to do, the Skating rinkonplummer, then the country club openned bought Savon drug store that was super while it lasted alot on memories in Reseda slowly saw everythg disapear Woolworths on the other end from the theater get a shake at the counter fill up with candy for the theater. It was a great time to grow up in Reseda