Meralta Theatre

9632 Culver Boulevard,
Culver City, CA 90232

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 17 comments

TomfromMichigan on June 25, 2017 at 10:46 am

I can add just a bit more…When I moved to L.A. in mid 1980 the Meralta was one a group of four “second run” movie theaters showing two recent movies for 99 cents. (I think the other three were The Criterion in Santa Monica, The Sherman in the valley, and The Warner in Beverly Hills. People told me that in the late 1970’s it had been two movies for 49 cents. The World on the east edge of Hollywood near Gower was not part of the group, but often showed three movies for a dollar or two. I think the Clinton on La Brea was also a bargain second run theater in that era.)

genordell on May 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm

The Meralta Theater (in Culver City CA) opened in March 1924 in a building that fronted the 9600-block of Culver Blvd. Other businesses in the block included a sweet shop, a drapery, Western Union, and a second-story hotel. The ceremonies were hosted by Will Rogers and the movie shown was “The Galloping Fish”, produced by Thomas Ince at his local studio.

The theater’s name derived from the two owners, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta; they lived upstairs in the building and were also connected to the Meralta Theater in the city of Downey. Pearl sold real estate and later insurance in town, while Laura was a seamstress at the movie studios. This connection led to many klieg-lighted premieres of films by Charles Chaplin and others being held at the Meralta.

A fire during World War II halted operations for a while, due to wartime restrictions on construction, but arrangements were made to relocate to the second-story auditorium of City Hall until the theater could be rebuilt.

The films exhibited in later days at the Meralta were restricted to non-R-rated fare, since the two ladies still lived upstairs, and had a huge one-way-mirror plate glass window (perhaps 4-feet by 6-feet) in the living room of their apartment that looked straight at the screen. The window could be seen to the right [east] of the projection booth.

Operations continued into the 1980s, but under other management: the theater showed third-run features for a while, then movies made in India. After the death of both owners, the building was torn down and replaced with the Meralta Plaza office complex, which opened in 1983.

moivebuff on May 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I went to the Meralta many times growing up in the mid/late 60’s in Culver City. I saw a live show with the 3-Stooges there one summer as well….Those were fun times!

mweston on July 13, 2009 at 1:15 am

I used to go see movies at this theater in the 70’s.. it was lit with green lights inside.. the lobby and bathrooms were painted black! It wasn’t a showplace by any stretch of the imagination…
but if you compare it to todays tiny box theaters, I much prefer the Meralta! Does anyone have any interior pics of the place??

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Here is a January 1983 photo, around the time the theater closed:

kencmcintyre on April 29, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Here is an expanded view of the photo at the top of the page:

jamwood on February 7, 2008 at 9:21 am

In the 1930s I lived three blocks from the Meralta. At ages six-seven my little brother and I attended the ten-cent Saturday afternoon matinee with a newsreel, previews, cartoon, main feature, and our favorite, the weekly serial with cliffhangers and the works. The Meralta introduced me to Franz Liszt’s beautiful “Les Preludes.” To this day when I hear it in the concert hall I see Flash Gordon’s rocket-ship mockups wobbling into outer space on invisible strings. It was the ticky-tacky 2001 Space Odyssey of its day. One preview scared the pants off of me when a giant genie, played by Rex Ingram, shot up from a bottle uncorked by Indian boy actor Sabu. The following week I went for more terror at “The Thief of Bagdad [sic],” an all-time favorite that I’ve seen several times since. One day my brother and I went AWOL from Pacific Military Academy up in the Cheviot Hills, walked three miles to see a picture show at the Meralta. I still don’t know how the Commandant found us, marched in Gestapo-style, and personally hauled us back to the school, where corporal punishment was no issue. We got swats (not too hard), an hour of standing at attention against the wall, and a full day of litter pickup on the campus grounds. So sad to see the old movie house dead and gone.

kencmcintyre on May 25, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Here is an LA Times blurb from 2/24/83. “Sure, we demolished the theater, but we named the office building for it, so we’re square, right?”

Culver Rebuilds
$4-Million Plaza on Old Meralta Theater Site First Major Project in Once-Ignored Downtown

Demolition has started on an entire block of old buildings in downtown Culver City to make way for the first of three major redevelopment projects—a $4-million, three-story office building called Meralta Plaza.

kencmcintyre on December 10, 2005 at 7:21 am

Here is a photo from 1928, via the LA Library:

Butchstone on January 24, 2005 at 10:15 pm

I think I saw Les Girls and Pal Joey at the Meralta.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 22, 2004 at 5:20 pm

My mother lived in Culver City in the 1920s, her family having arrived at the end of 1921, when she was six years old. She remembers going to the Meralta Theater, both in its original (built in 1914-1915) location on the triangle of land where the Culver Hotel was built in 1924, and the theater which then replaced it, on Culver Boulevard. She remembers the owners/operators of the Meralta, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta, who were sisters, as stout, dark haired women of Spanish ancestry. On Saturdays, the sisters would open the theater two hours before the matinee movie began, and one of them (my mom doesn’t remember which- they were so alike that she could never tell them apart) would play the piano, and the other would lead the crowd, mostly children, in singing the popular songs of the era.

Evan39 on September 24, 2004 at 5:33 pm

We used to drove “all” the way over from Beverly Hills to go to the Meralta because for a while it was a fifty cent adminission theater. It was well worth the drive for a double feature and we went there often.

bonnach on July 1, 2004 at 6:34 am

In the mid – late 70’s they ran, almost always, foreign films with subtitles. Mostly Indian if I recall correctly. I drove by the Meralta and the Culver on the bus every day on the way to school. They were about 2 blocks apart in the downtown area of Culver City.

William on February 18, 2003 at 11:48 am

During the early 30’s, the Meralta Theatre was operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. The master lease was under a chain called Principal Theatres Corp.. Fox subleased theatres from the Principal chain. It was listed in Fox West Coast records as Fox West Coast Theatres , Principal Division.

genordell on January 5, 2003 at 5:01 pm

history of the three main theaters in Culver City is at View link

William on October 8, 2001 at 3:12 pm

The Meralta has been demolished since the early 90’s. It was replaced by a new Culver City building. The Meralta theatre was a medium sized theatre, around 700 seats. This theatre was very plain, in its style. During it’s last years it ran as a budget house, before being razed.