Optic Theatre

533 S. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Optic Theatre

One of many independent theaters in the S. Main Street section of downtown Los Angeles, this old 700-seat movie house was situated next to the Art Theatre and across the street from the Burbank Theatre. The Optic Theatre was listed as operating in the 1926 edition of Film Daily Yearbook.

In its last years, it ran a grind policy of four films and was open all night until about 4-5 in the morning.

Now a parking lot has taken the place of all three of these theaters.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 87 comments)

danwhitehead1 on December 20, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Believe it or not, Walnut Properties either owned or leased the Optic Theatre in its last days. It was running as a grindhouse and was not showing x-rated. I was there a few times for service calls and repairs. By that time (some time between 1978 and 1981) it was in bad shape and had some scary clientele (and I don’t scare easily). The projector heads were Simplex E7s, the lamphouses were Peerless Magnarc xenon conversions done by Leonard Pincus and the pedestals were those old, heavy cast-iron Simplex 5-point pedestals. The screen had been torn so many time that Mr. Miranda and Mr. Tate had pegboard installed and painted white. On one of my calls, I remember an episode of that awful “T. J. Hooker” show with William Shatner was being shot in a nearby parking lot. I was told that the Optic was one of the first houses in Los Angeles to install sound; I have no idea if that’s true or not.

Someone above mentioned a house with a glass screen. One of my projection mentors, a Mr. William Rankin, told me many years ago of a house in Los Angeles that had a sandblasted mirror for a screen and that it weighed several tons. I sure can’t remember what house he said it was.

kencmcintyre on April 10, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Here is a good view of the Optic in 1983:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2009 at 6:54 pm

My USC links have all changed again, too, so here’s the current link to the wide view of the original Optic Theatre on Broadway (located at lower right of the photo.) There is also this cropped version with the Optic in close-up.

Note that just up the street the Broadway Central Building, later to become the location of the Broadway Theatre, is under construction.

kencmcintyre on April 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Here is a nice view of the Optic in the late 1930s. The Star is next door. There is another theater a bit north.

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Here is Woodley’s Optic, circa late 1930s:

itscjsspot on September 10, 2010 at 12:14 am

I believe the Optic as well as the Regent, Liberty, Lyceum and Kinema Theaters were all part of the West Coast Theater Chain operated by the Gore Brothers – Mike and Abe. All of their brothers and family were made managers of theaters. From the LA Times, December 11, 1920, Herman Gore is being sued for divorce by his wife of 16 days, Ruth. “She declares he earns $110. a week as Manager for Optic and Regent Theaters; also that he has an interest in the new Ambassador Theater being built in Hollywo0d, and the Liberty, Lyceum, Kinema Theaters.

cinecityposters on July 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I believe that it is The Optic that is shown in the opening credits of The Rockford Files. They are showing Point Blank. Seems like a Jim Rockford kind of neighborhood.

DavidZornig on December 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Just caught a glimpse of the Optic in a 1981 episode of “Hill Street Blues” titled “Hearts and Minds”.

Tracy on December 7, 2018 at 7:02 am

Add Starsky and Hutch to the list of shows with the theater in the background. Season 1, “The Bait.” 1975

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