Whittier Village Cinemas

7038 Greenleaf Avenue,
Whittier, CA 90602

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A news account in 1931 reported that architect David S. Bushnell was preparing plans for a theater, costing $90,000, seating 1,000 and to be leased to a theater chain. Because of the depression, according to the Whittier Historical Society, the lease was broken and the owner, Aubrey Wardman, ended up operating the theater with the architect serving as the manager.

The Wardman Theatre remained independent except for a time beginning in the 1970’s when it was operated by Pacific Theatres and by early 1977 it was operated by Pussycat Theatres. The 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake nearly finished the theater, but it was reconstructed with the original auditorium divided and more screens added by building an annex.

Its recently added stadium seating rises over the entrance to the old auditorium and the empty space below the risers has been converted to a video game arcade. Because a nearby Regal theater closed, the independently operated theater now has no serious competition.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

JayAllenSanford
JayAllenSanford on August 8, 2008 at 8:55 am

New book-length Pussycat Theatre history from the San Diego Reader:
View link

Sunnytiff
Sunnytiff on October 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

I grew up in Whittier attending the Wardman Theater for matinees of such movies as “It Came From Beneath The Sea” and “The Blob” (I loved Sci-fi flicks!.) It was a wonderful little theater, and since I moved back to Uptown Whittier 10 years ago, I can walk two blocks to see most first-run movies whenever I want. But about a month ago, the last vestiges of the original interior finally disappeared——the original concession stand (with its popcorn maker). Now, when you enter the lobby, you are faced with more of those obscene video games where the old concession stand (and staircase to the balcony)used to be. And they call this “progress”.

MikeCoke
MikeCoke on February 17, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I also grewup in Whittier & remember seeing many Monster movies there 13 Ghost, The Giant Claw & Rodan! The Flying Monster to name a few.
I also remember that between the Lobby & the theater there were no doors only heavy velvet drapes.
I seem to remember that the Restrooms were upo the curved stairs behind the Snack Bar.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 19, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Here is a January 2007 ad from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:
http://tinyurl.com/kpro4f

Stargazer
Stargazer on September 14, 2009 at 8:03 am

One of my fond memories of the Wardman Theater was standing in line waiting to see the August 1964 release of A Hard Day’s Night. We Beatlemanics were in line for hours to see the movie. Everyone talked about John Lennon’s book, 16 magazine, and our Beatle bubble gum cards. Then you could mail $25 to get Hollywood Bowl tickets to see the Beatles. Now I go to the Whittier Village Cinemas to watch sci-fi and Harry Potter films. Yes, I remember the old drapes and decor…but it’s the price of popcorn that creeps me out! However, you can’t beat the admission and location…it’s small town-like.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 31, 2009 at 11:30 am

Here is part of a July 1977 article in the LA Times:

WHITTIER-Community leaders hope to appeal to the business sense of X-rated movie theater chain owner Vincent Miranda. If all goes well, they say, Miranda will be convinced that conversion of the Wardman Theater into a multi-theater complex showing general run films would be profitable and a valuable asset to a nearby redevelopment project.

Miranda’s recent acquisition of the Wardman Theater from Pacific Theaters has touched off controversy here. The S. Greenleaf Avenue cinema is showing two sexually explicit films. Although just outside the Greenleaf Ave./Uptown Redevelopment Project, businessmen are fearful that the presence of an X-rated theater may have a detrimental effect on potential developers. There is also apprehension that other adult-only businesses may be attracted to the area.

A coalition of business, church and parents groups has formed to voice objections to the showing of adult-oriented films at the Wardman. Recently, coalition spokesmen visited Miranda at his Hollywood offices. “We tried to suggest to him that a four-theater complex would make it”, said City Councilwoman Delta Murphy. “We told him that it would be an economic plus for him and an economic plus for the city. We said that if he is not interested in that, we wanted a lease price and a lease option price.”

Miranda said he is considering the coalition’s proposals. But he expressed doubt that a multi-theater complex at the Greenleaf site would be feasible. At this point, Miranda said he would be more interested in sale of the Wardman rather than a lease agreement. Miranda has promised to forward a sale price to the coalition leaders. “We do buy and sell theaters”, he said.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Nice looking marquee.

JimMitchell
JimMitchell on August 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm

In the 1950’s, the Wardman was part of the Bruen’s Whittier Theatres company. Hugh W. Bruen also operated the Whittier and the Roxy, where he kept his office. In about 1953, he built the Sundown Drive-In.

jazzfi
jazzfi on January 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm

even when it showed adult films it still retained it’s marquee and architectural beauty as a single auditorium theater, with the warrior design and the flashing colors in front.. turning it into a six-plex totally ruined it as well as the historical beauty of the entire block..

bellbob1
bellbob1 on August 20, 2014 at 1:30 am

I remember seeing “Rhapsody In Blue” at the old Wardman Theater when it first came out in 1945. My stepfather, who worked for the railroad, had a part-time job of cleaning the Roxy, Wardman and Whittier theaters after closing. I remember many times going to the movies, falling asleep, he would wake me up, I would help him sweep up and then we would go home.

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