An Ode to LA’s Vintage Movie Theaters An Ode to LA’s Vintage Movie Theaters

An Ode to LA’s Vintage Movie Theaters

An Ode to LA’s Vintage Movie Theaters An Ode to LA’s Vintage Movie Theaters

by Erica Garza


There’s something surreal about seeing a film in one of the many vintage movie theaters in Los Angeles. You can almost picture the Hollywood stars of yesteryear gracing the screen or walking the red carpet for a premiere. Take advantage of being in the movie capital of the world by seeing your next flick in one of these historic locations.

Palace Theatre in North Hollywood

630 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014 

The oldest of three Broadway theaters downtown, the Palace opened in 1911 and was designed in a French Renaissance style with an Italian exterior. It hosted many major Hollywood stars early in its history, including Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, Fred Astaire, and Rita Hayworth. The Palace Theatre seats 1,000 and is open for special events and screenings.


The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Sid Grauman opened his first theater in Hollywood in 1922 and it’s noted as the site of the first-ever Hollywood film premiere. In 1998, the theater underwent a massive renovation and today hosts screenings of classic films as well as talks by noteworthy filmmakers and actors.


Vista Theatre in Hollywood

4473 Sunset Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Designed by theater architect Lewis A. Smith, the Vista opened in 1923 as the Lou Bard Playhouse and boasts a Spanish Revival-style exterior and an Ancient Egypt-themed interior. Though there is just one screen, people flock to this theater for its legroom and low entry price, not to mention its classic 35mm projector and the array of celebrity handprints just outside its doors.


El Capitan in Hollywood

6838 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Across the street from the Chinese Theatre is another brainchild of Sid Grauman and a wonderland for kids. El Capitan, built in 1926 and now owned by Disney, originally served as a live theater venue, only occasionally showing films. Today it screens the latest children’s movies, surprises guests with Disney cast members, features live singing and music and rains confetti.


TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Also conceived by Sid Grauman, TCL Chinese Theatre was built in 1927 and features stone figures, bells, pagodas, and assorted Chinese artifacts. The extravagant theater still hosts red carpet premieres today and draws tourists with its legendary forecourt of celebrity handprints and footprints. Though aesthetically vintage in the way Grauman envisioned, the theater has also seen major renovations, including the addition of a 94-by-46-foot screen in the main screening room and stadium seating.


Fox Theatre in Westwood

961 Broxton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Located in the heart of Westwood just minutes from the UCLA campus, Fox Theatre is most recognizable for its distinct tower, perched above carved winged lions, creatively blending Art Moderne and Spanish-revival styles. The theater, which was built in 1931, can seat more than 1,300 patrons and hosts red carpet premiere events often.


Aero Theatre in Santa Monica

1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Aero in Santa Monica was developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1940 as a 24-hour movie theater intended for aircraft workers who worked around the clock. Today it plays a mix of restored classics and independent films and features new screens, seating and sound equipment after a $1 million restoration in 2005.



Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds a master’s degree in writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, The Telegraph, and VICE.