El Rey Theatre

5515 Wilshire Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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Showing 1 - 25 of 63 comments

CStefanic on July 10, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Interestingly enough, I now work for the company that bought this venue – AEG: Anschultz Entertainment Group.

JAlex on June 30, 2016 at 9:23 am

Theatre, as a movie house, certainly lasted past 1975. I saw films there in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

LOCAL150IATSE on June 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm


Edward Havens
Edward Havens on October 13, 2011 at 6:47 am

Going back to the pictures from Roger Rabbit, that is not the real El Rey. In the second linked photo, one can clearly see the One Wilshire building in the background, which puts this location somewhere downtown.

dtrigubetz on October 13, 2011 at 12:54 am

Went to the El Rey tonight (10-12)for the first time in 25 years. Very few vestiges of the movie house, but it is a fairly attractive concert venue, in a utilitarian sort of way. Glad to see the street lobby box office is still being used for ticket pick up.

Glad I only paid $5.50 on Goldstar, as the two bands from Italy, Caparezza and Apres La Classe, were a loud and dangerous insult to the ears. It’s a joke: there were three sound engineers in the booth needed to produce garbage bass distortion. Even many young people fled to the outer lobby and street for relief. It was hard to tell if the guitarists had any talent as they mainly played mindless chords. The two drummers, however, were quite good.

The supreme irony from Apres La Classe was that they used taped big band intros of “Take the A Train”, “Caravan”, and the “Theme From the Godfather”, for three numbers. First taped class and then live trash.

The El Rey sign at night is positively gorgeous.

DonSolosan on February 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

My guess is that’s not the real El Rey; it looks like they dressed up some street and recreated the El Rey. For one thing, the street looks too narrow to be Wilshire Blvd. There’s an island at that point as well, planted with trees, that’s been there since the early 90s, I believe. I also think this is closer to downtown: that skyscraper in the background looks like the Aon Center. If this was the El Rey, there’d be another building down the street with the address 5455 on it (see Ken MC’s photo of 1/16/2009). It would block the view of those other buildings.

What does everyone else think?

drb on February 10, 2011 at 1:00 am

Some of the photos of the filmimg of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” show the El Rey as it looked in the late ‘80s. I think I’ve seen a better set, but here’s some smallish ones:

You can see the El Rey’s marquee in the film when Eddie and Roger are fleeing in Bennie the Cab.

DonSolosan on February 2, 2011 at 5:35 pm

The El Rey is featured in CSI as a burlesque club, season 11, episode 12 “A Kiss Before Frying.”

coweyhere on November 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Two photos of the El Rey from November 2009:

View link

View link

dctrig on October 14, 2010 at 11:07 am

The El Rey was a revival house in the 1980s. I remember seeing the 1942 movie “To Be Or Not To Be” thre around 1984.

shilo07 on August 31, 2010 at 8:40 pm

nice theatre i went inside 10 years ago they were having a dj party/clothing sale.

JGKlein on April 30, 2010 at 11:24 am

A 2008 photo has been posted in the theatre’s Wikipedia article. Click on this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Rey_Theatre

William on March 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm

For ken mc’s post from Apr.25, 2009. The picture was taken is 1937 and the films playing the El Rey Theatre were “You Can’t Beat Love” (RKO) and “The League of Frightened Men” (Columbia) both from 1937.

Dublinboyo on December 22, 2009 at 9:40 am

The theater does appear in the opening credits to that paen to the disco life “Thank God it’s Friday” along with the old Osco’s Disco on La Cienega and 3rd Street in Los Angeles. When the film was shot in 1977, I belive the El Rey was still a revival house prior to it’s concersion to a nightclub in the 1990’s.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Was this theater used in Thank God its Friday?

kencmcintyre on April 25, 2009 at 10:22 pm

The El Rey is on the left in this late 1930s photo from USC. The Fox Ritz can be seen further down the street:

DonSolosan on January 23, 2009 at 9:36 pm


That building in your photo, with the numbers 5455… Shortly after I moved to L.A., a friend invited me to lunch to celebrate my birthday. She was working in that building, and we had our lunch on the roof. The view was amazing that day.

kencmcintyre on January 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Here is part of an LA Times article dated 9/20/91:

The El Rey is hard to miss; it’s a big old movie theater on Wilshire Boulevard, the one with the colorful neon blazing in quasi-Aztec designs. Inside, where the theater once held movie seats, there was a sea of tables set with white linens and wine glasses with cloth napkins sticking out of them. On either side were elevated seating areas, tables with a box-seat feel to them. Between the front row of tables and the stage was a parquet dance floor. Except for one elderly couple, we were the only people there. We ordered drinks and perused the menu, a listing of Russian classics.

Our waitress said she had been working at the El Rey for only a few days, and mostly, she was still mystified and delighted to find herself employed at a Russian restaurant in a movie house with a Spanish name. Weekend nights are when the El Rey fills up, she said. There’s dancing and singing with an orchestra and a violinist. In fact, because big parties often book a large number of the tables, it’s a good idea to have reservations.

That Wednesday night, however, when we ate in the big empty hall the borscht had no particular character, the lamb shashlik was a kebab of dry meat served with bland rice and steamed carrots, the cabbage rolls were filled with rice and meat that had an off-putting metallic taste. A few more diners, most of whom spoke Russian, wandered in.

We returned to the El Rey the next Saturday night and found an entirely different arrangement. There were valets out front to park cars. Inside, the place was packed with people who were all dressed up. The tables were arranged banquet-style and occupied by what seemed to be a party of family and friends. We were seated above the dance floor with a good view of the stage where a violinist named Sergei was performing. Backed up by a three-piece band, Sergei, in a white tuxedo with red cummerbund, executed fancy footwork and wandered from table to table with his amplified violin. The audience loved him.

Chicken shashlik was well-spiced and juicy and quite delicious. Mostly, the food reminded me of banquet food: bland, easy to mass-produce and not-so-hot for the simple reason that it didn’t have to be. It seems that for the moment, the El Rey isn’t concerned with serving great Russian food. Rather, it wants to provide a hall for L.A.’s Russian community to assemble and celebrate with gusto, which is exactly what goes on.

kencmcintyre on January 16, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Here is a photo taken today, in violation of some new California statutes. I think the ad projected on the office building is for a horror film.

kencmcintyre on October 23, 2008 at 7:31 pm

The Mercedes commercial was on during the World Series tonight. Nice.

DavidZornig on October 18, 2008 at 1:35 am

I got to catch the Mercedes ad featuring the El Rey this evening. Narrated by none other than “The Waltons” John-Boy, (Richard Thomas).
Plenty of screen time for the El Rey.

I believe the El Rey was also the location for a Cowsills reunion show about 4 or 5 years ago, called “It’s A Family Thing 2”. A benefit show for Bill Cowsill who was then facing some health issues. Before both he and Barry passed away.
It featured Shirley Jones and some of the Bangles. The latter related I believe through marriage to the Cowsills. The first “Family Thing” was a 60’s TV special featuring them, hosted by Buddy Ebson.

Patsy on June 2, 2008 at 7:06 am

And again, if anyone gets the opportunity to catch that MB ad filmed at the El Rey it will be worth your time…very classy.