Warner Beverly Hills Theater

9404 Wilshire Boulevard,
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

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Showing 51 - 75 of 75 comments

William
William on March 24, 2005 at 6:06 pm

Yes, Joe Vogel has it right about the post. I’ve had a few introductory paragraphs re-worded on this site.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 24, 2005 at 5:09 pm

The Warners Downtown Theatre was originally the Pantages Theatre, but this was never Art Deco, more Beaux Art/Greek style.

The Wiltern Theatre was originally the Warner Western Theatre and that was/still is splendid Art Deco styled.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 24, 2005 at 4:57 pm

Stevebob is correct. Also, the links to the Pantages and the Wiltern in that first paragraph don’t work.

I think that William must have meant to reference all four theaters (Warner San Pedro, Warner Huntington Park, Pantages Hollywood and the Wiltern) as outstanding examples of art deco, but the phrasing and punctuation got confused when the links were added.

stevebob
stevebob on March 24, 2005 at 6:54 am

Um, getting this page back on track … I noticed an error in the introductory paragraph. It states: “This theater, like the other two Warners (the Pantages and the Wiltern), are outstanding examples of what Art Deco can be.”

The Pantages in Hollywood is indeed another outstanding example of what art deco can be, but it was never a Warner Bros. house. If the reference is to the Pantages at Seventh and Hill in downtown Los Angeles that later became Warner Bros., that theater was not art deco.

William
William on March 4, 2005 at 2:06 pm

To answer GB’s above post about the VistaVision projectors. They were removed around 1957 or 58. The theatre had two Norelco DP-70s (AAII) and two Simplex Black cased XLs. It was a great booth to work.

Markv
Markv on February 5, 2005 at 6:48 pm

In the early 70’s the Pacific Beverly Hills booked some prestigious pictures such as David Lean’s RYAN’S DAUGHTER as a reserved seat attraction. Perhap’s Mr. Lean requested the film to play in this theatre, since LAWRENCE OF ARABIA had such a successful run here. RYAN’S DAUGHTER wasn’t his most successful picture and other upscale films like TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT also performed less than hoped for, so soon afterwards the theatre had to survive on discount double feature programs.

Markv
Markv on February 3, 2005 at 11:05 pm

I remember by around 1967/68 when roadshow engagements began to slowly fade away, the Warner/Pacific Beverly Hills started showing more hipster and youth oriented first run Hollywood films. I remeber going to see first run engagements of THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST, WILD IN THE STREETS, CANDY and LAST SUMMER at this theatre. They all had succesful runs at this theatre, but soon after Westwood Village pretty much grabbed all of these type of films for the college crowd. I remember the outer lobby displays for the current attraction were always quite elaborate and showy. I miss this theatre more than all the others that were closed down.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2004 at 5:03 am

A parking lot seems an incredibly low-end use for prime Wilshire Boulevard real estate, especially when it’s been no more than that for almost twenty years. But, given what Rolex charges for its watches, I guess they can afford the extravagance. Still, it seems to me that even had the main floor of the theatre been turned into retail space, as was the Beverly Theatre, it would have been a more economical use of the place.

I don’t remember Beverly Hills having a Civic Auditorium of any sort (or do they use the auditorium at the high school?) I would have thought that they would have been glad to spend a bit ( and take one small lot off the tax roles) to catch up with cities such as Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Glendale, which have had such facilities for decades. I doubt that it would have cost very much to convert the Warner to public use. The building appeared to have been well maintained through the years. When even the small city of San Gabriel has managed to operate a 1500 seat municipal auditorium for ages now, (and San Gabriel probably doesn’t have even a tenth of the wealth that is concentrated in Beverly Hills), it really is a shame that they didn’t make the effort to save at least this one theatre, which could have provided so much benefit to the city.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2004 at 5:03 am

I attended movies at many of Southern California’s grand old movie palaces in the 1960s, but there was always something special about the Warner Beverly. It had, and was surrounded by, an air of elegance and sophistication, almost as though it had somehow remained suspended in an earlier age while most of the other theatres had been caught in the tides of change and had fetched up on the tatty shores of the more modern world, surrounded by McDonald’s franchises and discount stores.

The last time I passed by the Warner was in the mid-1980s. I had impulsively taken a bus jaunt to Santa Monica, and, on the way back to Los Angeles, I noticed that the bus was full of hippies, by then a rare species. I wondered at the oddity, and this sudden feeling of displacement in time. Then, at the bus stop near the theatre, the hippies all disembarked, which seemed to me even stranger than their presence. What on earth could they be doing in Beverly Hills? Then we passed the Warner, and I saw the marquee. The Grateful Dead were playing a concert there! I think that this must have been one of the last events the theatre ever hosted.

But even at that late date, the facade of the Warner was still splendid. It looked as though it would last forever. When I heard, only recently, that it had been demolished, I could scarcely believe it. It is very sad that the City of Beverly Hills could not save this marvelous gem.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on December 18, 2004 at 1:34 pm

William I always wondered why Pacific didn’t try to book in Exclusive upscale films after the era of the roadshow failed. Was it to difficult to get bookings due to the day and date bookings in Westwood and Hollywood? I remember talking to a high ranking executive from Pacific and he said this was his favoite theatre in the entire chain. This was my personal favorite of the Beverly Hills movie palaces.brucec

William
William on December 14, 2004 at 12:33 pm

Well after Pacific Theatres dropped the theatre from their chain. The theatre sat for a time empty. Then there was a plan to use the theatre as a playhouse. They where to stage I think the play “My Life in the Theatre”. They were going to have the audience seated on stage and play was going to take place in the auditorium. The city of Beverly Hills put a stop to it, before it opened. So the theatre sat another year or so. Before Lou from the Four Star Theatre leased the theatre. So they reopened the theatre at 99 cents a seat. At that time they were operating those other three theatres. The theatre was still equipped to run film. Pacific Theatre left all the equipment in the booth. They were once a Road Show house. They ran second run and a few classics in 4-Track Mag Stereo. The theatre did not last a year, before they closed it forever as a movie house. It would sit for another year before a company reopened it as a concert type theatre like the Beacon Theatre in NYC. In one of my above posts you’ll find the rest of the story of this once Grand Theatre in the Heart of Beverly Hills. The Norelco DP-70’s were stripped for parts and were in the booth when the theatre was razed. The two Simplex Black bodied XL’s were installed in the Vagabond Theatre near the Westlake Theatre in Los Angeles.

For people to see what the Warner Beverly Hills Theatre was once like should take a trip down to the Warner Grand Theatre. The Warner Grand Theatre is the only Warner Theatre in Los Angeles that was never remodeled like other theatres of that era. The Warner Huntington Park Theatre another sister theatre to the Beverly Hills and San Pedro was twinned by Pacific Theatres.

RobertR
RobertR on December 14, 2004 at 11:12 am

It seems bizarre for a theatre in Beverly Hills to be a dollar house.

William
William on December 14, 2004 at 9:26 am

Yes, during that time the theatre operated as a 99 cent house along with the Criterion, Meralta and also the Holiday in Canoga Park.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 18, 2004 at 8:29 pm

I recall this being a 99-cent theater (along with the Criterion in Santa Monica, and the Meralta in Culver City) during the early 1980s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 28, 2004 at 3:46 am

The Warner Beverly was the place I saw both Lawrence of Arabia and Becket, in their road show engagements. That was in 1962 and 1963. The theater was impressive, and was still very well kept at that time. It was my favorite building in Beverly Hills, and, both inside and out, one of the best pieces of art deco in California.

thomasl
thomasl on October 15, 2004 at 12:34 pm

I was lucky enough to attend two exclusive engagements at this theatre in the late 1960’s, both Franco Zeferelli films—“Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet”. And make no mistake about it—the name of this grand old Wilshire Blvd. theatre was the Stanley Warner.

William
William on April 12, 2004 at 1:11 pm

When the “The Exorcist” opened it played exclusively at the Mann’s National Theatre in Westwood. Then they opened a second westside engagement at the Mann’s Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. “Woodstock” opened at the Mann’s Fox Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills. Both the Fine Arts and the Fox Wilshire Theatres were located in the eastern side of Beverly Hills. The large single screen theatres in Beverly Hills and Downtown Los Angeles were slowly dying during this time. The ones Downtown were all action/horror or Spanish by this time. The three large Beverly Hills theatres were dropped by their chains during the mid to late 70’s. They tried to reopen the Warner Beverly Hills with double features and low admission prices, but it was to late. The Warner Beverly Hills Theatre was one of 340 theatres equipped with a full 70mm Norelco 70/35mm projection equipment and a Full 6-Track Ampex Stereo sound system.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on February 28, 2004 at 9:36 pm

The last film I saw in this beautiful theatre was “The Mirror Cracked” with Elizabeth Taylor,Rock Husdon,Kim Novak and Angela Landsbary. It was showing 2nd run features at the time. As the film
industry changed in the 1970’s and the roadwhow prestige pictures were now out of favor I always had the feeling that Beverly Hills no longer saw these theatres as desirable. Mann theatres made the mistake of booking The Exorcist and movies like Woodstock in exclusive runs which brought at times unruly crowds into Beverly Hills and the city was not going to put up with this.brucec

DavidT
DavidT on December 23, 2003 at 2:16 pm

To see an early exterior view of the Warner Bros Beverly Hills Theater, complete with tower (LAPL collection) go here:
http://jpg2.lapl.org/theater1/00014435.jpg
To see a 1931 view of the Warner Bros Beverly Hills Theater auditorium (LAPL collection) go here:
http://jpg2.lapl.org/theater1/00014431.jpg

Blofeld
Blofeld on November 12, 2003 at 12:46 pm

I worked here with my first girlfriend right around 1976-7, when Chuck Yelsky was the manager (nice guy). I was just out of high school. Changed the letters on the marquee, went up into the catwalks to relamp when the theater got rented out for the High Holidays, you name it. This beautiful old palace, then known as the Pacific Beverly Hills, was being booked with the worst movies ever! But such was the movie business is those days immediately before the rise of Spielberg and Lucas—
Countless adventures were had there, and there was plenty of room to run around the utterly empty auditorium what with films like Scalawag, the soft-core porn movie Maitress, Terry Gilliams’s Jabberwocky, and The Missouri Breaks playing. The time I can remember it most crowded was for the premiere of that memorable film Fun With Dick and Jane. Cranky executives from the home office came in and really made our life miserable for a few hours.
However, the real fun began when we ran an exclusive engagement of The Passover Plot. Remember that one? Zalman King (later the soft-core tzar behind Red Shoes Diaries, et cet) in the role of Jesus Christ; this—I believe—Golan and Globus production suggested that the Crucifixion was a trick. Local fundementalists—LA’s got ‘em by the thousands—phoned in bomb threats, and we on the staff drew extra hours to protect the otherwise empty theater from suspicious characters. Since the theater still had a stage, and since there were an average of three people a night paying to see this movie, and since the movie was a true lox, one time I rode my bicycle across the stage in mid film on a bet. Got a nice hand; no complaints.
One of the reasons I left LA is because they were tearing down buildings like this, and I’m sorry to hear it’s gone.

William
William on October 13, 2003 at 4:49 pm

If Pacific acquired the Stanley Warners here in 1961. Then why were they still listed as Stanley Warner Theatre assets as of January 1969 in the International Motion Picture Almanac from Quigley Publications and also in the Film Daily Publication. And I have also a film log from the Screen Room at the Warner Hollywood Theatre, that shows it was still part of the Warner chain till the late 60’s.

RayKaufman
RayKaufman on October 9, 2003 at 10:56 pm

Just a quick update/correction. The Stanley Warner chain, borne of the consent decrees of the early 50’s was indeed acquired by Pacific Drive-In Theatre Corp, (as it was originally known,) but in 1961. Included in that group was today’s Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

The Beverly, as it was last known as, was razed in 1989, by Columbia Savings, who were intent on building a parking garage. In fact, the infant L.A. Conservancy, got word the theatre was being dismantled and when initial queries were made, the demolition company was told to stop dismantling and instead were offered a $100,000 bonus to drop the ceiling in one day. They succeeded, receiving the bonus and preventing any saving of this once elegant neighborhood palace.

Ironically perhaps, as this was the same Columbia Savings that became infamous for its Charles Keating scandal. The hole created after clearing the Beverly’s debris, remained a hole in the ground for over 10 years.

William
William on October 8, 2003 at 5:36 pm

During the 50’s thru the early 70’s, the Warner Beverly Hills was one of the Best Places to see Roadshow movies. They were one of the best equipped theatres in the city. They had 70MM and was one of the only theatres to have true VistaVision projection. During the 30’s they had a neon tower that read Warner. But was later removed because of re-zoning of signs. But the way the theatre was designed and located at Canon Dr and Wilshire Blvd., you could see the theatre from 6 blocks away. The Warner Beverly Hills was part of the Warner Bros.chain then part of the Stanley Warner chain till late 1970 when Pacific Theatres bought the Southern California part of the chain. In this sale they picked up the Warner Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Wiltern, Huntington Park and the Topanga. The Warner’s Forum Theatre was part of Pacific owned Cinerama division. During it’s last years it played host to many local concerts and shows. The theatre was still in great shape at the time it was razed. But the owners Glendale Federal Savings did not want to put any more money to Earthquake refit the building. (around 12 million dollars)When they were razed the building they started from the rear of the building, so if you were passing it looked like they were just working on the front.

Today the Warner Beverly Hills has become the parking lot for the Rolex Beverly Hills offices.

BHousos
BHousos on April 20, 2002 at 8:45 am

The demolition of the Warner Beverly Hills Theater in 1988 was a major loss to the city of Beverly Hills!

Lee
Lee on September 23, 2001 at 4:46 pm

I worked as an usher and later an assistant manager there from March 1973 thru Spring 1975. Pacific Theatres had the lease at that time. Although I never counted all the seats, we said the capacity was 1314. The night janitor started working there in 1947. What a nice guy! Most of the movies booked there were sub-runs, but a few times we would have exclusive engagements for reissues. Both “The Sound of Music” and “Gone With The Wind” were there for several months each during my employment. I still have several “Lawrence of Arabia” road show programs that I found in one of the old dressing rooms backstage. What a great place to see films. I couldn’t believe Beverly Hills, with all it’s money, couldn’t save that wonderful palace,