Cinema Theatre

1122 N. Western Ave.   | map

Los Angeles, CA   90029


Architect: S. Charles Lee did a conversion from what had been retail space. The location is just north of Santa Monica Blvd.  The building evidently dates from 1937. Boxoffice reported the remodel cost as $22,000.

Seating:  800 was the number in a 1940 Boxoffice article, perhaps 700 later.

History: The initial operator was Louis Berkoff, a member of a family of Russian dancers. An article located by Cinema Treasures researcher Joe Vogel that appeared in the June 3, 1939, issue of Boxoffice magazine noted:

"Lou Berkoff opened his new Cinema Arts Theatre in Hollywood with ‘Ballerina,’ a French production, as his first attraction. The de luxe theatre will play foreign ‘art’ films."

The Berkoff family was also involved in the Coronet Theatre and the Esquire.

A Boxoffice item in March 1949 (located by Ken McIntyre) noted that the theatre had been taken over by Joe Moritz, who was doing an extensive remodel.

From the early 50s onward it ran as an art house owned and operated by Louis Federici. Joe Vogel, on Cinema Treasures, found a Boxoffice item from May 28, 1962:

"Approximately $75,000 was expended to give the Cinema Theatre a complete facelift in time for the Pacific Coast premier of ‘Through a Glass Darkly.’ Remodeling included a new lobby, marquee, carpets, drapes, and an elaborate mezzanine art gallery."

In the mid to late 60s Art Theatre Guild was running the Cinema. The theatre was a hotbed of independent film action in the mid-60s with Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol and others represented on its screen in popular midnight shows. See the 2012 Getty Iris blog post by Jessica Portner "L.A.'s Cinematic Experiment, Then and Now" for a fine history of the era.

By 1969 the theatre had gone to porno. The building got sold to the current church group in the 80s.  Closing date as a theatre is not known but it was running into the mid 1980s.

The Cinema Theatre in the Movies: The Cinema is one of many Los Angeles area theatres (including the Monica and the Esquire Theatre) that we get a quick look at in the nine minute short, available on the Internet Archive, "Let's Go To The Movies."  It was produced by RKO in 1948 for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Cinema in "Let's Go To The Movies"
larger view

See our Theatres in Movies post about "Let's Go To
The Movies" for shots of the other theatres featured.

We get a look at the Cinema in John Frankenheimer's
"52 Pick-Up" (Cannon/Golan-Globus, 1986). Thanks to
Yuri G. for spotting the shot and including it on his Movie
Tourist page about the film where he also has many more
photos of other locations that were used.
larger view
| on Movie Tourist

Up in the booth in "52 Pickup." See the Theatres in Movies
post for another booth view and several lobby shots.

Status: Now a church.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Cinema. The Cinema Tour page has exterior photos from 2002 and 2003.  The Cinema is featured by Chuckaluck on his Noirish Los Angeles post #13543.


"Old Store Building Becomes Modern Movie" -- The Cinema
gets pictured in the March 2, 1949 issue of Boxoffice.
The caption reads:
 "The Cinema Theatre in Los Angeles was recently created from
 an old store building. Before and after views show how much
can be done with a moderate expenditure of money.

Note the marquee in which changeable posters are used;
sometimes enlarged photographs and at other times price
signs are used in this panel. The Cinema, seating 800, cost
 approximately $22,000 to remodel. It was designed by
Architect S. Charles Lee of Los Angeles."

Thanks to Tinseltoes on Cinema Treasures
for finding the article. The two photos also appear
in the UCLA collection in a larger format.

    The Getty - Iris

Filmmaker Kenneth Anger, along with Raymond Rohauer,
picketing the theatre in 1964 over grievances. Anger alleged
 the projectionist stole one of his prints. The photo, from
 the Getty Institute collection, is by Charles Britten.
full size view | on FB/LATheatres

See the 2012 Getty Iris blog post by Jessica
Portner "L.A.'s Cinematic Experiment, Then and Now"
for a fine history of the era.

    Vintage Los Angeles

A 2012 look at the Cinema from Doug Boethin.
 full size view | on FB/LATheatres

A 40s view north on Western from Santa Monica Blvd.
The Cinema is over on the left of the image.

photo: Sean Ault collection

[ click on the image for a larger view ]

A detail from Sean's photo.

Thanks, Sean!

A look north on Western Ave. with
 the Cinema Theatre on the right.

photo: Google Maps - 2014

Click on the image to enlarge or head
 to the current interactive version.

about photos from other
websites that appear on this page...

We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please
contact us if there are incorrect attributions, links that
no longer work or other issues. A link near each image will
direct you to a full size version on the website hosting it.
Assume that all the images are subject to copyright
restrictions. Contact the webmaster of the site in
question concerning reproduction or other use.

    American Classic Images

The Cinema running as an adult venue in 1983.
full size view

    Gary Graver   

The Cinema in the late 80s after closing as a
theatre.It's the exciting Grand Opening of
 the Hollywood Swapmeet Mall.

Gary Graver (1938-2006) was a filmmaker and cinematographer
 who took many photos of theatres in Los Angeles and Portland. 
More can be seen on You Tube: "Second Run - part 1" and
"Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photo.

    UCLA - S. Charles Lee Papers |

A facade view from the UCLA
S. Charles Lee papers collection.
The store before the remodel into a theatre.