El Rey Theatre

5515 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036    | map |  

(323) 936-6400

Website: www.theelrey.com | on Facebook

Opened:  In June 1937 as part of the Pacific States theatre chain.

In 1940 Fox West Coast added it to their circuit and it was later operated by their successor companies National General and Mann Theatres. Mann Theatres pulled out of the El Rey in the late 70s during a time when they were dropping many of their older single screen theatres.

It then ran as an independent and by the 80's it was a third run venue and in need of repairs.

Seating: 900 originally. Current capacity as a club is 771.

Architect:  Clifford A. Balch designed this Miracle Mile art deco gem. The theatre was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 520 on February 26, 1991.

Status:  In the 80s it became a dance club called Wall Street. Since 1994 it has been a club offering live concerts and other bookings. There's not much of interest left inside. All the fun is on the sidewalk: the terrazzo, the facade and the neon.

El Rey in the Movies:

In the film "Night of the Comet" (Atlantic
Releasing,1984) we see a lot of
the El Rey. It's
about two girls from the Valley who survive a toxic
comet. Here, a rare look at the El Rey lobby.
larger view

Larry the projectionist after a night of sleeping bag sex on
the booth floor with an usherette in "Night of the Comet."
See our Theatres In Movies post about
"Night of the Comet" for more lobby, booth and exterior
shots from the film. Nope, no auditorium views.

A look at the El Rey in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
(Touchstone, 1988). It's a good mockup of the facade,
actually a set on Hope St. between 11th and 12th.
 larger view

Thanks to Bill Volkmer for the photo above.
You can see his whole set taken during the
 shooting on the website Dave's Rail Pix.

The "El Rey" shooting site is now a vacant lot. See our
 Theatres in Movies post on "Roger Rabbit" for two more filming
 views plus a shot of the "El Rey" in the completed film.

The El Rey is a nightclub in "License To Drive"
(Fox, 1988) with Corey Haim and Carol Kane.
 Jason Vega found the screenshot on the
 El Rey's Facebook page.

The El Rey appears as the site of a film premiere in "Jay and Silent
Bob Strike Back" (Dimension/Miramax, 2001). Thanks to Joe Pinney
for the tip on this one. The screenshot comes from a page about the
 film's shooting locations on the site Filming.90210locations.

 In Paul Schrader's "Auto Focus" (Sony Pictures Classics,
2002) the El Rey is the theatre in the film as the venue
where the Bob Crane film "Superdad" is playing.

Mia (Emma Stone) goes to the El Rey to see her
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) playing keyboards with
The Messengers, a band fronted by Keith (John Legend)
 Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" (Lionsgate, 2016).
Sorry, we don't see much of the building itself.

See the "La La Land" Theatres in Movies post for views
from the film of the Rialto in South Pasadena, the Magnolia in
 Burbank and the Variety Theatre in West Adams.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the El Rey Theatre.  Wikipedia has an article on the El Rey. And there's now a Facebook page: I Heart Miracle Mile.

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

Geoffrey Goddard has some fine 2015 exterior views of the theatre on Flickr. Start at his first El Rey photo and you can page through about fifteen more.

Also on the Miracle Mile: The Fox Ritz and the Four Star.

    The El Rey on Yelp    

Yelp's El Rey Theatre page will get you
to an album of 299 photos, including many interior
views. Here's a stage view from Brian W. 
full size view

The photo above also appears on the Skyscraper City
forum Historical Theatres post #13 by Commandant.

He got it from Bizbash.

A look at the rear of the
again by Brian W.  
full size view

A 2006 view by JayChan H.
full size view

    Miracle Mile Residential Association   


A c.1948 postcard view looking east from Burnside with
a bit of the El Rey Theatre on the far left. The roof sign of
the Fox Ritz is down the street in the middle of the image.
full size view | on the MMRA site

In the distance beyond at La Brea is the E. Clem Wilson
Building. On the right it's Desmond's department store and the
Wilshire-Dominguez Building.
The card is from the collection
of California State University Dominguez Hills.

The card above also appears an a
somewhat sharper version in Elizabeth Fuller's
Old Los Angeles Postcards collection on Flickr.

A late 70s photo by Tom Zimmerman.
full size view | on the MMRA site

Also in the MMRA collection:
| facade view 1937 |
| Frasher photo 1947 | looking west 1956 |

    Mark Peacock   


A nice sign detail by Mark Peacock from

his Vintage Theatres photo set.   
full size view

A night view of the El Rey neon from 2010
by the talented Mr. Peacock. 
full size view

Also visit Mark's blog:
On the Road With Mark Peacock

    Pomona Public Library    


The Frasher Foto Postcard Collection at the
Library has hundreds of photos
 from all over southern
 full size view

Here we're looking toward the El Rey Theatre
in 1947.
It's a "Frasher's Foto Postcard."
  The El Rey is running
"Mr. District Attorney" with Dennis O'Keefe and Adolphe
 Menjou along with "Strange Journey."

The photo can also bee seen
on the website of the
 Miracle Mile Residential Association, as a post by
Ideses on the Facebook page I Heart Miracle Mile and on
our Los Angeles Theatres
Facebook page.

    Public Art in L.A.    


A view of the El Rey neon at night. See
this site's Neon Signs Along Wilshire Boulevard
page for an index to the many photos on the site.  
full size view

    Tejana on Flickr    


A view of boxoffice area by Tejana.
full size view

A detail of the terrazzo at the El Rey.
full size view

     Theatres in Los Angeles    

by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper,
Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker.
Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
www.arcadiapublishing.com | google books preview

A 1937 view of the El Rey running "Maid of Salem"
with Claudette Colbert from page 52 of "Theatres
in Los Angeles."  Most of the photos in the book
are from Mr. Wanamaker's Bison Archives. 

The photo appears on Photobucket via Ken McIntyre.
 Ken has also posted it on Photos of Los Angeles.

    Vintage Los Angeles    


A 1956 look west on Wilshire from the Richard
Wojcik collection. Playing at the El Rey is "Private's
Progress," a  British film directed by John Boulting.
full size view | on FB/LATheatres

Thanks to Stephen Russo for spotting
the 1956 photo on Vintage Los Angeles.

You'll also find the photo above on the
Miracle Mile Residential Association website.
Check out their Historical Photo Collection.

On the MMRA site: El Rey Theatre

A great 4 minute drive along the Miracle Mile in
August, 1967.  The El Rey is on the left.

We also get glimpses of the Fox Ritz (then
called the Lindy Opera House)
and the Four Star. 
The footage is from www.producerslibrary.com.

 On YouTube:
"Wilshire Blvd. Miracle Mile August 1967."

A view of the El Rey's facade.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click to enlarge ]

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     Biz Bash    


A view of the El Rey interior on Biz Bash's
El Rey Theatre page. The page also has an array of
other views, some of which also appear on Yelp. 
larger view

Biz Bash is a site that has data on many venues around
the city to help event planners compare amenities
and select event locations.

     California State Library    


A 1987 William Reagh photo of the El Rey.
 full size view | data page

    Clearlight 1971 on Flickr    


A great night view of the El Rey neon by Clearlight.
The Costello concert was in 2008. 
full size view

    Cezar Del Valle - Theatre Talks    

A 2002 Betty Sword photo of the El Rey from
 Cezar Del Valle's Theatre Talks collection.
full size view

Thanks, Cezar!

     L.A. Public Library Photo Collection    


Christmas on the Miracle Mile. We get a bit of the El Rey
on the left in this c.1937 Herman Schultheis view from the
Los Angeles Public Library collection. On the right is the
Desmond's/Wilshire Tower Building at 5500 Wilshire.
 full size view

A view of the El Rey from 1978.
It's a photo by Anne Laskey. 
full size view

A view of the El Rey in 1978 by Anne Laskey. 
full size view

A facade detail taken by Anne Laskey in 1978. 
full size view

Also by Anne Laskey in 1978:
| another facade view  | terrazzo view  |
another terrazzo detail  |  boxoffice  |

A 1989 exterior shot by Steve Grayson.
 full size view

An undated view -- looking west toward the El Rey.
 full size view

More from the Library's collection:
| 2000 night view looking west - Robert Pacheco  |

     Photos of Los Angeles    


A 1954 or '55 look at the El Rey in a photo from the
collection of Bruce Kimmel.  The theatre is running
 "Romeo and Juliet"  with Lawrence Harvey and
 "A Time Out of War," a 20 minute short.
on Photos of LA | on FB/LATheatres

Thanks to Bill Gabel for this c.1982 shot of the
theatre near the end of its time as a movie house.

Bill also has the photo above
 posted on Cinema Treasures.

A fine 2003 photo of the El Rey's
neon from Deanna Bayless.
on Photos of LA

A great look west at the El Rey neon added to
Photos of Los Angeles by Scott Pitzer.
on Photos of LA

A 2012 look at the facade by Ken McIntyre.
on Photos of LA

A 2012 gaze up at the neon by Ken McIntyre.
on Photos of LA

In Ken's Photobucket album:
| 2010 marquee view  |

    USC Archives    


Here we're looking east with the El Rey on the left
and the Fox Ritz farther down on the right. The photo
is by the Dick Whittington Studio, 1937. 
 full size view

A detail of the El Rey from the photo above.
They're running
"The League of Frightened Men" with Walter Connolly and
 Lionel Stander and "You Can't Beat Love" with Preston Foster."

Another view, taken from a bit farther west.
 full size view