Warner Grand, San Pedro


478 W. 6th St.
 

San Pedro, CA 90731    | map

(310) 548-7672

Website:  grandvision.org | events | restoration | tech specs |

The News:  The City of Los Angeles got no offers from promoters to take on the theatre. The Grand Vision Foundation, however, expressed their desire to manage the building -- but evidently not on the terms that were being asked. Donna Littlejohn had the story in a November, 2016 Daily Breeze article "Theater benefactors stand ready to expand, promote San Pedro's Warner Grand."

A February 21, 2016 Daily Breeze story by Ms.Littlejohn had discussed the city's interest in getting an operator to run the Warner. The story: "City looks to private operator to run San Pedro's Warner Grand Theatre."

Grand Vision Foundation, the "Friends of the Warner" fundraising organization for the last two decades (and frequent events promoter at the Warner), has on several occasions in the past asked the City of Los Angeles to let them run the theatre.

Opened: January 20, 1931 as the Warner Bros. Theatre with "Goin' Wild" with Joe E. Brown as the initial attraction. It's reported that Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell were among those attending the premiere. Jack Warner called it the "Castle of Your Dreams."



The San Pedro Bay Historical Society collection includes
the Warner's Inaugural Program. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes
for rounding it up for display at a LAHTF tour of the theatre.

The new theatre got a big spread in the Better Theatres section of the July 4, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald.  The article, "The Warner in San Pedro" is on Internet Archive. One of the nine photos in the article, of the main floor lobby, also appears in spread on Foyers in the November 21, 1931 issue.

Several articles have noted that it was the first theatre equipped for sound in the South Bay area but that's unverified. 1931 was pretty late.  Maybe it was the first South Bay theatre built for sound. Certainly Fox West Coast wouldn't have waited that long to equip their nearby Cabrillo and Strand theatres.

Architect: B. Marcus Priteca, who also did the Huntington Park and Beverly Hills Theatres for Warners. Plus over 100 other theatres. Interior decoration was by Anthony Heinsbergen.

Priteca's other Los Angeles theaters include the Hollywood Pantages and the downtown Pantages (later Warner) at 7th and Hill.

Seating: 1,598 at one time, now 1,523.

Stage: The Warner got a stage with flying capability with a 65' high grid. The original largely hemp gear has been replaced with a new counterweight system. There are 17 linesets, including the one for the screen. All the dressing rooms are in the basement.

The stage is very wide and shallow: 50' proscenium width (32' high) but a stage depth of only 19'. They've made the facility more usable with a stage extension out beyond the original apron. The lip is now 10' out beyond the proscenium line. Including the wing space, the stage is 80' wall to wall.  See the tech PDF on the Grand Vision website for more data.

Pipe Organ:  It never got one. The nice empty chambers are used for storage.

Film equipment:  The booth has a pair of Norelco AAII 35/70mm projectors with a Dolby CP200 processor for analog optical stereo.  The projectors and CP200 were once installed in the Four Star.  70mm is possible if a few missing Norelco components can be rounded up. There's also an RCA 16mm projector. Scroll down near the bottom of our auditorium page for several booth views.

The screen is 21' x 48'.  Speakers are self-powered units by Renkus Heinz for 3 stage channels, a subwoofer section and surrounds. 

The Daily Breeze had a 2013 story about the theatre's need to get digital gear capable of playing DCP packages. Grand Vision Foundation may foot the $75,000 to $90,000 bill. 

History: Life was rocky for the Warner during the depression but the theatre stayed open. And prospered during World War II with lots of employment nearby at the port, the shipyards, and other military locations.

In 1953, as a result of the Federal consent decree splitting studios from their theatre chains, Warner Bros. split their business into two firms with existing stockholders getting shares in both new companies. Warner Bros. remained the film production and distribution company. The theatres ended up with the new Stanley Warner Corporation -- Stanley Corp. being the name of a largely east coast theatre chain the Warners had purchased in 1927.

The Stanley-Warner combine eventually grabbed the RKO circuit theatres as well becoming RKO-Stanley Warner. In the city directories it's been listed under all sorts of variations of the Warner name: Warner Bros. (1932), Warner Bros. San Pedro Theatre (1937), Stanley Warner San Pedro Theatre (1956), Warner Theatre (1957) and Stanley Warner Theatre (1959).

Pacific Theatres took over the southern California theatres in the chain in 1968, becoming the Warner San Pedro's new operator and, presumably, owner. The building was sold in 1974 to Arnulfo Estrada and had a run as a Mexican film house under the name Teatro Juarez. It's unknown if Pacific ran the house right up to the 1974 sale or not.

In 1984 after another sale to Raymond Howell and Clay Colbert it was renamed the Warner Grand. They started a refurbishment program and ran classics, organ concerts, and other programming. Howell had previously managed the Chinese for Fox West Coast.

Other sales in 1986 and 1991 left the venue adrift. In 1996 it was purchased by the City of Los Angeles.

The Warner in the Movies:

The theatre (and adjoining business strip) has been a favorite
for Los Angeles movie shooting due to its nice period feel.

The Warner gets "In The Mood" (Kings Road/ Lorimar,
1987) with Patrick Dempsey and Beverly D'Angelo.

  The theatre puts in an appearance in "Invasion Earth:
The Aliens Are Here
" (New World Pictures, 1988)

In "Remote Control" (Vista, 1988) with Kevin Dillon
the lobby of the Warner is turned into a video store. 

"Worth Winning" with Mark Harmon, Madeline Stowe
and Lesley Ann Warren (Fox, 1989) used the Warner.



Steve Martin onstage at the Warner for a 1991 TV
special featuring Ricky Jay: "Learned Pigs and Fireproof
Women." The footage is included in "Deceptive Practice: The
Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay" (Kino Lorber, 2012).


Steve Martin and Ricky Jay offstage right at the
Warner in a clip from "Learned Pigs..." The dimmerboard
 we see has been removed and is now in storage. The
rigging got replaced with a new counterweight system.

The Warner appears, as the Apollo, in "What's Love
Got To Do With It?" (Touchstone, 1993) starring
Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne.

The theatre is seen in Rob Reiner's "Ghosts of Mississippi"
(Columbia, 1989) with Alec Baldwin, Virginia Madsen,
James Woods and Whoopi Goldberg.


The Warner gets dressed up in its World War II finest
in Michael Bay's "Pearl Harbor" (Touchstone, 2001). While at
the show, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett see a newsreel
about the war. Thanks to Lindsay on the blog
 I Am Not a Stalker for the screenshot.




Tobey Maguire, Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges and Elizabeth
Banks watch a newsreel at the Warner in Gary Ross's
"Seabiscuit" (Dreamworks/Universal, 2003).
larger view



A look toward the screen with Tobey
Maguire at the movies in "Seabiscuit."
larger view



The Warner was used as a West Virginia theatre in "Win a Date
With Tad Hamilton!" (Dreamworks, 2004). Thanks to Lindsay on the blog
 I Am Not a Stalker for the screenshot. See the Theatres In Movies
post for more shots from the film featuring the Warner.



Robb Hedges adds to the list that the Warner was
used for "Illusion" (Illusion Productions, 2004) starring Kirk
Douglas as an aging filmmaker. We see a lot of the Warner
 in the film but if you watch it you'll probably want that
 90 minutes of your life back.



The most fun you'll have looking at the Warner shots in
 "Illusion" is this one with the seats covered the three colors
of the Mexican flag, from when the theatre was a film house
called the "Juarez."  (Well, sort of yellow rather than white
 in the center section). The projection booth scenes of the
movie were filmed at the Roxie in San Francisco.

Various areas of the Warner were used as locations
 for Steven Soderbergh's "The Good German" (Warner
Bros., 2006). The shots of the film theatre we visit (and
 its booth), however, were done at the Tower.

The Warner's marquee and auditorium appear
as Carnegie Hall in "Running With Scissors"
(Sony, 2006) starring Annette Bening.

The Warner is seen in Haskell Wexler's "From Wharf
Rats to Lords of the Docks" (Harry Bridges Project, 2007)



In "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" (Columbia, 2007) we
get John C. Reilly and his buddies at the Warner Grand
rehearsing for a concert performance.
larger view

We get a shot of Robert Downey, Jr. under the Warner
 marquee in David Fincher's "Zodiac" (Paramount, 2007)

The Warner stands in for a Modesto theatre in Ice Cube's
 "The Janky Promotors" (Dimension Films, 2009).

Interior views of the Warner appear in "Judy Moody
and the Not Bummer Summer" (Relativity Media, 2011).



Thanks to Larry Diaz for this shot of  January
2016 filming at the Warner for "Live By Night" with
Ben Affleck. His photo set includes the two shots
seen here as well as three more views.
Another view of the "Live By Night"
filming. Thanks, Larry!
See the Theatres In Movies post on "Live By Night"
for some shots from the film showing the Warner.

The Warner in Music Videos:  


Stephen Russo spotted the Warner as the
location for Tesla's "Modern Day Cowboy."
view on YouTube

Status: It's been owned since 1996 by the City of Los Angeles. The Warner hosts many live events as well as occasional screenings of foreign and classic films. The theatre is being gradually refurbished.

The theatre is operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (culturela.org) with Lee Sweet as manager.

A local private nonprofit organization, Grand Vision Foundation, was organized in 1995 to save the theater, and continues to raise funds for ongoing restorations and upgrades. Grand Vision also presents events at both the Warner Grand and in their little theatre down the block, the Grand Annex.

More information:  

See the Warner Grand page on Cinema Treasures for lots of details about the theatre's history.  Visit the Cinema Tour page on the Warner for lots of photos by Bob Meza and others.

For a history of San Pedro's streetcar lines, check out Tom Wetzel's Uncanny website's Los Angeles to San Pedro page. For more information on historic San Pedro consult the San Pedro Bay Historical Society. The San Pedro Historic Downtown Waterfront organization sometimes offers tours of the theatre, such as during their Summerfest.

Don't miss Sandi Hemmerlein's two 2013 "Avoiding Regret" photo essays on the Warner. One on the public spaces, "Open to the Public" one on the non-public areas, "Behind Closed Doors."

The Warner got a nice bit of publicity with several delicious photos in a June 2014 Curbed L.A. story.


A bit of deco detailing on
the west edge of the marquee.


photo: Larry Diaz - 2016

Thanks to Larry for the photos, originally appearing
 on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



A 1934 view of the Warner from Sam Gnerre's lovely
2009 article "South Bay Movie Theatres of the Past."
 
full size view

A larger view of the photo above
appears on Vintage Los Angeles
.



A nice view of the signage at dusk
from the 2009 article. 
full size view




    L.A. Public Library Photo Collection   

www.lapl.org  



Here from the Library's collection is an early
side view of the Warner Theatre San Pedro.
full size image



A view of the facade. Note that the attraction
on the marquee is "Goin' Wild," the opening bill. 
full size view



A 1931 look at the boxoffice.
A version of this boxoffice photo also appears in
 the July 4, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald.




 Looking east down 6th St. from Pacific toward
 the Warner in a photo the Library dates as 1937.
 The last streetcars ran on these tracks in 1934.
full size view



    Seeing Stars   

www.seeing-stars.com


Here's a 2002 view of the exterior on the Seeing
Stars
OC Filming Locations page. Also check out
 their
Hollywood Movie Palaces section.
full size view | on the Stars page




more warner grand san pedro pages:
| lobby areas | auditorium |
| backstage & basement support areas |



The facade of the Warner Grand Theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click on any of these to enlarge 

A view of the Warner's vertical sign
from one of the balcony exits.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein -
Avoiding Regret - 2013

Don't miss Sandi Hemmerlein's two 2013 "Avoiding Regret" photo
 essays on the Warner.
You'll find more photos, a history of the building
and lots of information about her exploration of the theatre.
There's one
on the public spaces, "Open to the Public," and one on the non-
public areas, "Behind Closed Doors."   Thanks, Sandi!


The marquee and vertical got stripped down
and repainted in original colors in 1996.




An  evening view on a film
 night at the Warner.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

The facade of the Warner, especially when lit at night, is an
impressive big city sight in generally low-key San Pedro.



The Warner boxoffice.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The area behind the boxoffice.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein -
Avoiding Regret - 2013




A detail of the ceiling above
 the boxoffice area.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein -
Avoiding Regret - 2013



Another facade view.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge 



A facade detail.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007



The Warner's neon lit up for an event.

photo: Stephen Russo -
Los Angeles
Historic Theatre Foundation
- 2013


Thanks, Stephen! The photo above originally
appeared on the LAHTF Facebook page.


The LAHTF is actively involved in the study and preservation of
the vintage theatres in the Los Angeles area. The group frequently
supports events and offers tours of the buildings.
www.lahtf.org | group Facebook page | official FB page



Looking out the house left
fire escape over the alley.


photo: Sandi Hemmerlein -
Avoiding Regret - 2013



In the alley looking toward the lobby.

photo: Bill Counter- 2014




The alley view toward the stage.

photo: Bill Counter- 2014




An edge view of the Warner marquee
after demolition of the adjacent building.


photo: Larry Diaz - 2016

The building at 6th & Pacific, just west of the Warner,
caught on fire in November 2015 and was later demolished.
The Daily Breeze had the story: "Warner Grand Theatre spared...."



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    American Classic Images   

americanclassicimages.com


The Warner as the Juarez, a Spanish
language film house, in 1982.
full size view




Another 1982 shot.

Also see:
| January 1983 - closed |


   Downtown San Pedro "The Edge of LA"  

www.facebook.com/groups/94901597205


A lovely view toward the street by San Pedro
artist Lee Uran. It's a post by Michael Koth on the
Downtown San Pedro "The Edge of LA" page.
 
full size view | on the Edge page

Thanks to Jason Vega for spotting this one.


    Motion Picture Herald   

archive.org/details/motionpictureher104unse

The new theatre got a big spread in the Better Theatres
section of the July 4, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald. 
The article, "The Warner in San Pedro" is on Internet Archive.



An opening week view, one of nine
photos with the from the July 4, 1931
 Motion Picture Herald article.

"The facade, finished in white stucco, restrainedly
embellished with cornice and plaque patterns
 pressed into the material."



    Noirish Los Angeles   

skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread



A lovely c.1931 look across San Pedro to the Palos
Verdes Hills with the Warner sticking up over on the right.
It appears on the Noirish Los Angeles post #23970,
 a find of Mr. Ethereal Reality on eBay.
 full size view | on Noirish L.A.


A detail from the photo as well as other
Warner views appear on Noirish post #23971.




    So Cal Historic Architecture   

facebook.com/groups/socalhistoricarchitecture


A 2014 night look at the signage
 by Steve Milner. Thanks, Steve!
  full size view | on the SoCal page

Steve also has a daytime facade view with his
set of 6 2016 Warner photos on the SoCal page.