Holly Cinema

6523 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Loew's Holly Theatre (1970) exterior

The Holly Theatre is perhaps best known for premiering and exhibiting “Caligula” exclusively for over a year in 1980-1981, and is located across Hollywood Boulevard from the Fox Theatre.

Converted from a garage by architect S. Charles Lee for operators Harold Frankin and Howard Hughes, it had 303 seats and was originally named the Studio Theatre. Opened on 31st July 1931 with Charles Starrett in “The Viking”. It was the first ‘automatic’ theatre in the area, having no ushers, just a cashier, a manager and a projectionist as staff. Patrons passed through a turnstile after purchasing their tickets, which operated automatic doors. Candy, cigarettes and drinks were sold via coin operated slot machines. The Studio Theatre was billed as the ‘World’s Most Unique Theatre’.

On December 9, 1936, it was renamed Colony Theatre screening Bing Crosby in “Rhythm on the Range”. On August 8, 1945 it had changed names again to Music Hall, Hollywood playing Burgess Meredith in “Story of G.I. Joe”. By then the seating capacity had been increased to 488 after a remodelling. By the mid-1950’s, it was known as the Academy Theatre.

It remained a first run movie theatre and became the Loew’s Holly Theatre on June 20, 1970, when its Art Deco style interior was curtained over and a false ceiling was installed. The reopening movie was “Watermelon Man”. Soon it became the Holly Cinema, and the notorious Penthouse production of “Caligua” broke box office records.

The Holly Cinema was a companion theatre to the Paramount (now the El Capitan Theatre) through its series of owners. The Holly Cinema was taken over by Pacific Theatres and was closed in the Summer of 1986.

It was converted into retail use, at one time becoming a shoe store, and since 2004, was used as a Scientology Learning Center. All traces of its cinematic past have either been removed or covered over. By early-2020 it was operating as Harold’s Chicken & Bar

Contributed by B Erickson, Ray Martinez, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 78 comments)

Twistr54
Twistr54 on May 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I worked at this theatre in 1981. I started at the end of the Caligula run.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 15, 2014 at 7:34 am

The Studio Theatre was to have been the first of ten houses of its type for Hughes-Franklin Theatres according to this item from Building and Engineering News of December 5, 1931:

“CALIFORNIA— Harold B. Franklin, president of the Hughes-Franklin theatres. 7051 Hollywoood Blvd., announces that plans are under way for nine new theatres, similar in size and type to the recently completed Studio Theatre at Hollywood Boulevard and Hudson Avenue, to be built in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, San Diego, Oakland, Stockton and San Jose. Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Dallas, Texas. They will have seating capacities ranging from 300 to 500 and will have the automatic features provided in the Hollywood Theatre. S. Charles Lee, 2404 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles, will be the architect.”
I don’t know if any of the other theaters were built.

RickB
RickB on August 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Google Street View from February 2014 shows a “For Lease” sign on the Scientology store at this address.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm

June 26th, 1970 grand opening ad in photo section.

DarthHaggis
DarthHaggis on March 6, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Loew’s Grand Opening Wednesday June 24th 1970 (LaTimes pg76)

Watermelon Man (Rated R) Showtimes: 12:30, 2:30, 4:30, 6:30, 8:30, 10:30 & Midnite 12:00

richjr37
richjr37 on July 7, 2019 at 5:27 pm

It’s a book store now.

richjr37
richjr37 on July 7, 2019 at 5:36 pm

Ad from July 7,1977 in the Pictures section.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 11, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Opened as Colony on December 9th, 1936. Ad posted.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Also posted the July 31st, 1931 grand opening ad as Studio. Ad confirms 303 seats.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 29, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Became Music Hall (Hollywood) on August 8th, 1945. Grand opening ads posted.

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