Criterion Theatre

1315 Third Street,
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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Showing 1 - 25 of 29 comments

ScottyA
ScottyA on June 3, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I loved this theater when I was a kid! What a grand auditorium! I spent every Saturday afternoon there, seeing Disney double features. In the early ‘70s, kiddie matinees were 75 cents a ticket! Which left 25 cents to buy candy across the mall, at Woolworths.

I made one end-of-the-road visit, in the late ‘80s. Whew! By then, it was a nasty grindhouse, with men sleeping. It was so beyond hope that they didn’t even have glass in the projection booth window anymore — so you could hear the equipment clanging away. Sad.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on April 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Nixols and Navan, the Criterion Theatre was (mostly) demolished. The Criterion 6 which stands there now (and has its own page here, where this discussion is ongoing) is the historic facade of the old building on a brand new structure.

Also, where did you get the idea that they’re going to demolish this? The article only talks about converting the building…

Navan
Navan on April 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm

a crime to this historic theater is about to take place in the form of casual permission by a city that no longer cares about its past or citizens, for the owner to demolish and convert this into more expensive stores and unaffordable condos/apartments. If they did care, they would put a stop to this and declare it a landmark. Just another nail in the coffin of downtown Santa Monica.

nixols
nixols on December 10, 2012 at 11:04 am

12/7/12 Santa Monica Daily Press “…The property owner of the Criterion 6 received permission in November to convert the theater into general retail…” http://www.smdp.com/amc-backs-off-theater-development/115340

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on December 18, 2009 at 10:30 pm

That linked photo that Lost Memory posted on Dec 22, 2006 is more “new” Criterion than “old” Criterion. Like the El Miro down the street, it was so modified that it earned a new page here.

William
William on April 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

The 1981 photo is when theatre was leased by Metropolitan Theatres along with the Cine on the Mall (aka: El Miro).

William
William on July 27, 2007 at 3:50 pm

The Criterion played it during that time as a double feature, but the print they got was a very splicey one.

BradE41
BradE41 on July 27, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Film going was more fun back in the 70’s than it is now. Usually I ended up seeing most films 2nd run “after the Westwood/Hollywood” debuts. Usually a double feature, and there were re-issues a year later. I cannot tell you how many times the Monica Twins had “Young Frankenstein”. I saw it at the Monica’s when it went 2nd run after the Avco, then again with re-issues at the same theatre. Films were not so over-hyped, and over-produced back then. Now it is too much overload and films are on DVD almost right out of the theatre. DVD is now what the 2nd run used to be.

William
William on July 27, 2007 at 3:28 pm

I remember that double feature of “Jaws” and ‘Waldo Pepper" at the Criterion. The Criterion had a nice large Scope screen. The Criterion, Meralta (Culver City), Holiday (Canoga Park) were the 49 cent houses and for a short time the former Pacific Beverly Hills Theatre tried it at .99 cents.

BradE41
BradE41 on July 27, 2007 at 3:15 pm

I grew up in Santa Monica and went to the Criterion quite often when it was a Single Screen Mann theatre. Lots of Disney films but distinctly remember seeing a double feature of “Jaws” and “The Great Waldo Pepper” in Febraury 1976. Late 70’s/early 80’s it was a 49 cent theatre that changed its second run double features every week. I remember going EVERY Friday during the Summer of 1979 to see the latest double feature, and did not care what was showing.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 10, 2007 at 11:49 am

Tearing up the promenade in 1965:
http://tinyurl.com/39lb5b

William
William on July 6, 2006 at 6:53 am

The smaller old theater would be the El Miro later Cinema then Cinema on the Mall and Cine Latino before it closed.

meredithlee
meredithlee on December 2, 2005 at 7:23 pm

There was another smaller old theater down the mall from the Criterion I worked at the summer of 1977. They had the same owner or management company. I remember the Criterion was way more lavish and beautiful than the one I worked at. We had dollar matinees that would have lines of sr.citizens down the block. I was sitting in the box office when the newspaper guy was going up and down the mall hawking his papers saying Elvis had died.

RonnieG
RonnieG on December 2, 2005 at 7:27 am

ken mc, thanks so much for the links to those photos – the place really was as huge as I’d remembered it as a kid. I hope that someone can turn up some photos of the old lobby someday, too. Thanks also for pointing out the LA Public Library web site as a source of great old photos.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 4, 2005 at 5:00 pm

There are several pictures of the Dome Theater on the Ocean Park Pier that are listed on the LA Library website. If this theater is listed here under a different name, please let me know.

http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics49/00044402.jpg

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 13, 2005 at 3:15 pm

Look for the Criterion at the far end of the Promenade:

http://jpg2.lapl.org/pics32/00050683.jpg

turnkey
turnkey on June 6, 2005 at 12:33 pm

I went there as a kid in the ‘70s when it would show family films like the Disney/Kurt Russell movies or “Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.” Then, in the early '80s (83-84) I worked across the street from it at J.J. Newberry’s. By then the theater was showing double-features for .99, then it went down to triple-features for .49. On one Christmas weekend they showed the “Ten Commandments” for free. I don’t know how they made a profit. I went a few times to see the (mostly terrible) movies they showed like Lucio Fulci’s “7 doors of death” (aka “The Beyond”). It was a real grindhouse experience complete with bums and delinquents heckling the screen, the audience and each other. Management did not seem to care that this once-great theater was now given to the dregs…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 24, 2005 at 10:54 pm

The Los Angeles Times carried an article about the Criterion headlined “Santa Monica theater will open soon” in its December 30th, 1923 issue, so the theater must have opened early in 1924. An article in the Santa Monica Outlook of August 4th, 1923, announced that the theater’s organ had been ordered.

Butchstone
Butchstone on January 24, 2005 at 10:04 pm

I remember seeing Bridge on The River Kui when I was in Jr High.

RonnieG
RonnieG on November 10, 2004 at 11:15 pm

I remember going there as a kid in the 60’s, before and after the construction of the 3rd Street pedestrian mall. My mom would drop us off on Saturday afternoons for the matinee. As I recall, at the time it was 25¢ for the kids' Saturday matinee, and 50¢ if it was a double features. (This was for first-run pictures, and included all of the usual pre-feature cartoons, etc.)

I’m sorry to hear that the old theater was razed. We moved away in 1971, and I’ve never been back, though I have great memories of the place. It was huge and beautiful, and the Saturday matinees were the only time our parents would let us go to the Criterion – since it was an all-kid audience and it didn’t matter how much noise we made.

It’s fun for me now, years later, to point out the Criterion marquee to my own son, when we watch “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” together…

wpaq
wpaq on November 6, 2004 at 6:52 pm

There was a time during the 80s when they were showing the double bill for 49 cents and on Tuesdays Free Popcorn. I wondered how the hell they could do that. I went.

gugenheim84
gugenheim84 on October 1, 2004 at 3:07 am

Oh it was the biggest and most well appointed theater in Santa Monica! I remember it from the early 50’s & 60’s. The stage was so large that when other theaters had to renovate in order to install the new cinemascope screens, the Criterion installed theirs easily and it looked as though it had always been there. The Criterion had plush red seats and ushers to open doors, it had a real “powder room” for ladies to sit down on sofas, or at large mirrors for “repair” work. It played only first-run movies and special attractions like 3-D or a midnight show on Halloween. I remember the feeling of immense space entering the main auditorium, but not a lost feeling; the thick carpets, comfortable seats and 60 ft. screen (seen only when the film began and the curtains parted) gave one a sense of being a part of something important. E.L.