The poor Roxie Theatre has been standing on its last leg for a while now. For the last few years we’ve fawned (and cried) over the now-derelict Art Deco facade. We have seen vintage photos, and the interior was, admittedly, nothing spectacular. The seats and the ticket booth had been torn out years ago, and last we heard the auditorium was full of merchandise boxes and rubble from the shops that occupied the lobby. Never ones to turn down an opportunity to shoot the interior of a movie palace, we waited for our chance to get in. A few months ago, we received a tip that the retail space was being worked on (aka swapmeet expansion) so we ran over to check it out. After pleading with the construction crew, we ran up the stairs in the back of the lobby to see the auditorium.
When we heard the Warner Huntington Park Theatre was sold last year, we knew we had to see it. Whether it was being renovated or demolished, the current interior was a mystery as it’s proved nearly impossible to find any photos after 1930. After a wealth of patience, we finally had a rare opportunity to document the theatre both inside and out.
The theatre opened on November 19, 1930, with the attraction “The Life of the Party.” It was designed by B. Marcus Priteca, the same architect of the Warner Grand San Pedro and our favorite LA movie palace, the Pantages. Priteca’s work never fails to impress with his immense attention to Art Deco details and iconic starburst ceilings.
Warner Bros. divested control to Stanley Warner Corp., who ran the theatre until 1968. It was then operated by Pacific Theatres, but the Warner signage never changed. In its later years, it had a successful run showing Spanish language films. Sometime in the ’80s, the theatre was horizontally twinned (a floor was built at the balcony level, creating two smaller screens). It closed its doors in the early ’90s and has been abandoned ever since.
We pretty much live and die for Art Deco theatres, and the Warner Grand San Pedro Theatre is no exception. Next weekend on November 8th, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation will be hosting an “All About” tour at the Warner Grand, and we were able to get a great preview of the handsome Deco interior.
Grauman’s Metropolitan first opened its doors on January 26, 1923. Built shortly after the Million Dollar and the Egyptian Theatres, Sid Grauman spared no expense in creating what would be the largest theatre in all of Southern California.
With a seating capacity of 3,387 seats, the auditorium was enormous. It was the second largest theatre to be built in the West, only behind the Fox Theater in San Francisco, which amazingly had 4,651 seats. The next largest theatre in Los Angeles was the RKO Hillstreet (downtown) with 2,890 seats, which met the same fate of demolition as the two aforementioned movie houses.