No one alive today can remember a time when Los Angeles wasn’t always the centre of movies and television. But in the early 20th century, it was a small town like any other, looking to reinvent itself. When the 1920s brought movie theatre impresarios to Los Angeles, it signalled the beginning of a new industry.
Here are just three memorable Los Angeles theatres that recall the city’s film Golden Age:
6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood CA 90028
Architects Meyer and Holler designed this theatre for impresario Sid Grauman at the suggestion of Charles E. Toberman, an important real estate developer in 1920s Hollywood.
This theatre is famous for its design, built on the interest in ancient Egyptian culture rising from the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. The front façade was reminiscent of the pyramids, having four massive columns at the main entrance—four feet wide and rose 20 feet each—with an original seating capacity of more than 2,000. Subsequent renovations have split the facility into more than one cinema, but it is still in use.
1755 N Highland Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028
Sid Grauman opened The El Capitan in 1926 as a playhouse and was the largest of its time and was converted to a cinema in 1941. His better-known Grauman’s Chinese theatre (now the TCL Theatre), sat right across the street.
Stiles O. Clements designed the exterior of this theatre in an elaborate, cast-concrete Spanish colonial style, while another architect, G. Albert Landsburgh, gave the interior a lavish East Indian vibe. Orson Welles famously rented it to feature his controversial film, Citizen Kane. The Walt Disney company purchased it in 1989 and completed a museum-quality restoration that took two years to complete.
Today, the theatre shows many Disney favourites, offers tours and rents itself out for birthday parties and special events.
4403 West Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
Movies buffs on a tour of Burbank shouldn’t miss a look at the former site of the 800-seat Magnolia Theatre (now The Evergreen Stage, formerly owned by DiaDan Holdings Ltd. of Nova Scotia).
First built in the 1940s by Jack D. Griffin (1892-1951), the Magnolia distinguished itself both for its unique appearance—having a front façade topped with a 170-foot pylon inspired by the Eiffel Tower—and being used as a glamorous backdrop for classic movies as Pushover (1954), starring Kim Novak and Fred MacMurray, Night Moves (1975) starring Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, and Susan Clark, and more recently, the Oscar-winning La La Land (2016) starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
DiaDan Holdings Ltd. was not the first owner of the storied building—Griffin’s client was Al Minor, who also owned the Major Theatre and briefly, the Burbank Theatre in Los Angeles.