Studio City Theatre

13126 Ventura Blvd.    | map |

Studio City (Los Angeles), CA   91604

Opened: June 11, 1938 with "Test Pilot" plus another MGM film filling out the bill.

It was a project of Laurel Theatres, a partnership of Ben Berenstein and Pacific States Theatres. Berenstein was an independent exhibitor who, among other projects, had been running what came to be called the Wiltern after Warner Bros. had walked out of their lease.

Pacific States Theatres was a firm founded by Adolph Ramish and Abe and Mike Gore. That team had extensive exhibition experience -- they were once integral parts of West Coast Theatres. Among other theatres, Pacific States also built the El Rey on Wilshire Blvd.

The Laurel name came from the site's location near Laurel Canyon Blvd. The contractor for the project was Wesco Construction Co., no relation to the Wesco theatre holding company (West Coast Theatres) that had become part of Fox West Coast when acquired by William Fox in the late 20s.

Boxoffice reported in their June 25, 1938 issue (a week after the Studio's opening) that the team was suing Fox West Coast alleging they were getting shut out as far as bookings from all distributors except MGM.  Thanks to Joe Vogel for spotting the article and sorting out other ownership issues at the Studio.

The Studio was later operated by Fox West Coast Theatres and its successor companies including Mann Theatres. The Studio was equipped for 70mm presentations. When Mann dropped their lease, the theatre became an independent again.

It's been known as the Studio Theatre, the Studio City Theatre and the Fox Studio City.  It was listed as at 12138 Ventura Blvd. in the 39/40 city directory.

The Studio City area was named for the 1927 Mack Sennett film studio project at Ventura Blvd. and what is now Laurel Canyon Blvd. He called his empire "Studio City."  In 1935 it became Republic Pictures and, later was occupied by CBS.

Architect: Clifford A. Balch

Seating: 880

Status:  Closed in 1991.  The interior is largely intact but it has been converted into a Bookstar/Barnes & Noble bookstore.

The Studio Theatre in the Movies: 

Aliens Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey
 land in the Valley and hookup with Geena Davis after landing
 in her swimming pool in Julien Temple's "Earth Girls Are Easy"
(Vestron Pictures, 1989). Here we're in front of the Studio
 City Theatre on our way to go clubbing.

In the film's opening credits we do a flyover of Hollywood
with a glimpse of the Cinerama Dome.

The Studio Theatre on TV:

Thanks to the blog Scouting LA for this screenshot
 from the first episode of the 1968 season of "Dragnet" that
included the Studio Theatre. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon
are there to investigate an acid-pouring crime.

See the 2015 Scouting LA post about the Studio Theatre
"When Your Local Barnes & Noble is in a 30s Art Deco Movie Palace"
for many great interior and street views.

Joe Pinney advises that "You see the shot above in the prelude
to the episode, although it's described as a movie theater near the
intersection of Olympic and Western, which is why you don't see
 the top half of the Studio's marquee (since it's nowhere near
 Olympic & Western).  It's available to watch for free on Hulu.

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page for links to many more exterior views. Cinema Tour has three 2001 exterior photos from the Bob Meza collection.  See the page on the theatre on From Script To DVD for some additional exterior views.

Check out Mary Mallory's 2013 Hollywood Heights article featuring the theatre "Studio City Revolves Around Movies."

Wikipedia has an article on Studio City which includes an exterior view of the building.

See Mary McGrath's article in Studio City Patch about the Studio City Theatre: "Going to the Movies Circa 1964."  Also see her tales in "Looking Back to the 60s: What Movies Did You Watch?"

Hyper-realist artist Davis Cone has a painting of the Studio featured in a 2014 Huffington Post story about his devotion to capturing vintage movie theatres.

Scouting in L.A. has a fine 2015 article about the theatre "When Your Local Barnes & Noble...."

A night view of the Studio City Theatre.

photo: Mark Peacock - 2009

See more information about Mark's photo on Flickr where
it's part of his wonderful Vintage Theatres set.
Also visit his blog:
On the Road With Mark Peacock

A closer look at the entrance at night.

photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF

A view of the entrance terrazzo.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click any of these to enlarge ]

An auditorium sidewall view.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The sidewall murals are not original.

The rear of the auditorium.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

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    Clearlight - Marc Evans

A lovely 2008 view of the Studio City
Theatre's neon by Marc Evans. 
full size view

It's part of his delightful Neon set -- with 465
images from all over Los Angeles.

    Photos of Los Angeles   

A lovely postcard added to the Photos of Los Angeles
 collection by Douglas Rudd. We're celebrating the San Fernando
Valley, the "fastest growing area of Los Angeles." The marquee
of the Studio is on the left.  It's 1953 and we're running "Three
 Sailors And a Girl" and Brando in "The Wild One."
 full size view | on Photos of LA

Here's another look at that "Wild One" shot that
appears on the card above. Thanks to Jon Haimowiz
 for the post on Photos of Los Angeles.

A view of the Studio City Theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click any of these to enlarge ]

The Studio City neon at night.

photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is active in promoting awareness
 of historic theatres in the Los Angeles area. The group offers tours, supports
various events in vintage theatres and lobbies for historic preservation.  |  LAHTF on Facebook

The entrance to the bookstore.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The entrance at night.

photo: Gregory May - 2011

Check out 13 more views of the Studio on
Gregory's Studio City Facebook album.

Another look at the boxoffice and entrance neon.

photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF

Los Angeles Movie Palaces -- The Studio City Theatre

A view looking west along Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

photo: Google Maps - 2011

Click on the photo to enlarge or head to
Google Maps for an interactive view.

A look at the proscenium and painted detail above.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A sidewall detail.

photo: Gregory May - 2011

Check out Gregory's
Studio City Facebook album
for more views. Thanks, Gregory!

    B'hend and Kaufmann Collection

A 1946 look at the Studio City during the run
 of "The Killers" with Burt Lancaster and Ava
Gardner. The photo is by Nate Singer.
 full size view | on the AMPAS site

The Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection is
part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collection.

The photo also appears (without the watermark) as
a post of Bill Gabel on Photos of Los Angeles.

    L.A. Public Library Collection

A view of the marquee before opening
 from the Library's collection.
full size view

Also in the Library's collection:
| distance view looking east - Valley Times - undated |

    San Fernando Valley Relics   

An early 60s postcard donated by Sue and
Tony to the San Fernando Valley Relics page,
where it garnered may comments.. 
full size view | on the SFV Relics page

    SoCal Historic Architecture

Yet another version of that 1953 shot in the left
column. Thanks to Linda Hammonds for the post on
 the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.