Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Ave.     
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 260-1528   | map |
Website: | schedule | on facebook

Opened: 1939 by Donald Douglas so that the workers at his Santa Monica aircraft plant could have nearby entertainment. During the war, the Aero stayed open 24 hours a day.  The theatre operated as a second-run neighborhood house for decades while Montana Avenue changed from scruffy and working-class to a trendy shopping street.

The theatre became 75 in 2016 and celebrated in a big way. The L.A. Times had a fine March 2016 story "Santa Monica's Aero Theatre regulars believe in the joy of movies" by Susan King.

Architect: P.M. Woolpert
Seating: Originally around 600, now down to 425.

Status: After a $1 million rehab the theatre is now run by American Cinematheque and offers almost daily changes of program including lots of classics.  Projection and sound equipment includes 70mm capability.

The building is owned by developer James S. Rosenfield who purchased it in 1977 with the idea of preserving it. The Cinematheque came along as a tenant in 2003.

The Aero in the Movies:  This theatre is a favorite location for filmmakers looking for a typical neighborhood movie house. It appears in "Donnie Darko" (Newmarket Films, 2001) and other films.

Barry Sonnenfeld's "Get Shorty" (MGM, 1995) we see
John Travolta and Rene Russo strolling down the block
from the Aero after seeing a film. The Vista Theatre
was used for the theatre interior.
larger view

See our Theatres in Movies post for more from the film.

More Information:  More about the Aero is on Cinema Treasures.  The Cinema Tour page on the Aero has some photos by Bob Meza from 2002.

A view of the Aero Theatre entrance.

 photo: Gary Graver - 1990

Gary Graver (1938-2006) was a noted filmmaker and cinematographer.
 Over several decades he took many photos of theatres in Los Angeles and
Portland, OR.  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.

A view of the marquee in 2010.

 photo: Bill Counter

[ click on any of these to enlarge ]

An art deco end standard on
 the Aero Theatre seats.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

 about photos from other
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     From Script To DVD

An auditorium photo from the site's Aero Theatre page.
slightly larger view


     Klaxon on Flickr

A nice 2009 view showing the streetscape from
Klaxon on Flickr. We're lined up for a sold out
showing of
the "Back To The Future" trilogy.   
full size view


   Photos of Los Angeles

An entrance view of the Aero added
to the Photos
of Los Angeles page by Ken McIntyre in 2013.
full size view | on Photos of LA

A 2015 "75th Anniversary" shot added by
Gerald Farovitch as a comment to his post of a
 vintage Aero view on Photos of Los Angeles.

Thanks to Howard Gray for
 his 2016 marquee photo.

A 2016 entrance view by Howard Gray.
full size view | on Photos of LA

A look at the Aero entrance from across the street.
It's a 2016 Howard Gray photo. Thanks, Howard!
full size view | on Photos of LA

A view of the Aero Theatre in 2010.

 photo: Bill Counter

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

A closer view of the entrance.

 photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A night view in 2010.

 photo: Bill Counter

A close up of the entry terrazzo.

 photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The lobby of the Aero.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A view of the auditorium.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

     American Classic Images    

A May 1981 view from the American
 Classic Images collection.
Also in the collection:
| April 1982 |

     In 70MM

Here we're looking at the installation work on
 2 Norelco DP70 35/70MM machines at the Aero in
2005. It's a photo on this site's DP70s in California
page. The photo is by Paul Reyton. 
full size view

Thomas Hauerslev's wonderful site is the place to visit
 for information about 70mm projector history, news
 of 70mm festivals and more.

    Santa Monica Public Library    


A view of the Aero marquee in 2002 from the
 Library's collection. It's a photo by Cynni Murphy. 
full size view

Also in the collection:
| another entrance view  | from across the street - 2002 |

    So Cal Historic Architecture    

A 1942 Aero view from Karl Gerber
 on the So Cal Facebook page.
The image above also appears
on Photos of Los Angeles.

     Vintage Los Angeles

A c.1939 look at the theatre running "Anthony Adverse"
 (a 1936 release) along with "Jeepers Creepers," from October
 1939. Thanks to Margot Gerber, American Cinematheque's
 publicist, for posting the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.

full size view | on Vintage LA