Vista Theatre

4473 Sunset Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027

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Vista Theatre

Lou Bard’s Hollywood Theatre opened on October 16, 1923 with Baby Peggy in “Tips” (attended by Baby Peggy ‘in person’) plus vaudeville acts on the 7ft deep stage. The seating capacity at opening was for 838. It was built for and operated by the L. Lou Bard theatre chain named Far West Theatres Inc. The main facade of the building is in a pretty Spanish Revival style, which was to have been the overall architectural theme of the entire building which was designed by noted theatre architect Lewis Arthur Smith. However, during its 1922 construction, King Tutankhamen’s Tomb was discovered in Egypt, setting a trend for Egyptian style architecure and from the entrance lobby through the auditorium that style dominates.

It was re-named Vista Theatre in the late-1920’s and it was later operated by independent operator Whitson-Lewis Theatres in the 1940’s, remaining in operation as a popular neighborhood movie house. By 1949 it became an important revival theatre and then an art house cinema screening foreign movies, renamed Art Vista Theatre. It then became a gay male porno cinema for several years.

It was refurbished by Landmark Theatres in the early-1980’s, and it was at this time that the Egyptian style paybox was installed on the sidewalk entrance and the theatre began playing mainly off-circuit movies. But this closed in June 1985 when Landmark didn’t renew their lease.

It remained closed for several years until in the early-1990’s it was beautifully restored and reopened for mainstream movies in around 1998.

Alongside its elegant Spanish style facade, the interior is the true stunner in an Egyptian style at this old single screen palace in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 128 comments)

dtrigubetz on June 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Attended the 9:45PM showing on 6/15 of “Super 8”. A great crowd a little over 200 in attendance. Many people in the industry go to the Vista. I just realized that the opening for Elvira’s weekend horror movie on KDOC was filmed here.

Parking note: I take the Red Line from North Hollywood and get off at the Sunset-Vermont station. The Vista is only two blocks east. If in need of a quick bite, stop at Von’s right on the way and pick up a sandwich and a Starbucks-they have seating.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on August 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I was there on Sunday for the 1:30 showing of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which drew a very big crowd for a matinee. The theater is beautiful and the projection was perfect. I like the fact that they have screen curtains. Last time I went there, about ten years ago, they didn’t. The only minus is that the curtains look too modern for that theatre. A shiny gold curtain flooded with red lights would look better with the classic decor. By the way, I live in Virginia, and whenever I travel I make it a point to visit single screen theaters. On this trip west, I visited the Vista, the Crest, and the Regent.

HowardBHaas on February 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm

The exterior with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on marquee was featured for a few minutes in tonight’s episode of TNT TV’s “Southland” cop drama show.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 2, 2012 at 12:58 am

I saw that episode and was pleased to note that they use mylar (or plastic?) displays on the marquee, old-school style, rather than just hanging letters that spell out the title of the feature.

dtrigubetz on August 3, 2012 at 10:32 am

Nice to see about 160 people for the 8:50PM show this past Tuesday for “Dark Knight”. Veteran actor Clu Gulager, a regular at the Beverly Cinema, showed at the Vista recently.

dtrigubetz on August 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

(Martha used to run “Phantom” at the late lamented Majestic Crest. The women dress up and it’s fun being one of the lone men attending)

This year’s Screening (Redux ~ IX) will be at The Vista Theatre.
Cheers! Martha (Boswell)

Cell: 310-709-8917

Date: November 10, 2012

Time: Midnight

Tickets: $20.00

dtrigubetz on September 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm

The Vista and its sister venue a half-mile away, Los Feliz 3, converted to digital around Sept 6; however, the Vista was allowed to keep its 35MM projector as some directors wanted it for special screenings.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2012 at 9:45 am

In the Independent Theatres listings of the Los Angeles Times for February 10, 1971, the Vista was showing a double feature of Cindy and Donna (IMDb) and Girly (IMDB).

These were more low-budget sexploitation movies than full-on porn, but they were the sort of thing the Vista was running regularly around that time. The theater went to gay porn for a while later in the ‘70s, and then in 1980 it became a revival house, first operated by Thomas Theatres out of San Francisco and then by Landmark, which operated it more as a revival/art house combination.

Landmark abandoned the revival format at the Vista in 1985. The August 24, 1986 Los Angeles Times has the house listed as the New Vista, showing a double feature of Top Gun and Real Genius. I don’t think the Vista ever went back to porn after its time as a revival house. It did show some gay-themed movies during those years, aimed at the large gay audience in Silver Lake and East Hollywood, but I don’t think any of them were porn.

DavidZornig on February 13, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Below link with a screen grab of the Vista Theatre in “Throw Momma From The Train”.

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