Atlantic Theater

5870 Atlantic Avenue,
Long Beach, CA 90805

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Pacific Theatres

Architects: Carl Boller

Functions: Church

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Atlantic Avenue Theater, Zacatecas Theatre, Cinema Varidades, Long Beach Big Screen

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News About This Theater

Atlantic Theater

Opened May 21, 1942, this was rather plain on the outside, its most distinguishing feature was a large tower Art Deco style similar to trademark of RKO-Radio Pictures that flashed with neon lights, a magnet for families in the surrounding area. It survived as a regular movie theater until December 1972. By June 1973 it was operating as an adult theater which closed in 1976. In 1979 it was reopened as the Zacatecas Theatre screening Spanish language movies. On October 12, 1980 it was renamed Cinema Varidades. In 1983 it went over to Chinese movies as the Long Beach Big Screen. It was closed in 1986 and was converted into a a church. It was demolished in February, 2014.

Contributed by doug sarvis

Recent comments (view all 71 comments)

GaryParks on March 28, 2015 at 11:17 pm

Several months ago, in mid-2014, I drove out to the site of the Atlantic. Not only is the building gone without a trace, but there seems to be no sign of future development at the site, not even a sign proclaiming the construction of a library, or anything, there. I’m wondering if the neighborhood has become the victim of a development scam of some sort, a promise of a library, and preserved portions of the theatre, only to be left with nothing. I hope not. I’ll be interested to see if anyone has any news.

lemansblue69 on February 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm

What happened to the tower?

GaryParks on January 19, 2017 at 8:53 pm

The top part of the tower was preserved, and mounted onto the new library building, which has been completed. I do not know if any other features of the theatre were incorporated anywhere else in the new building.

Mark Goodrich
Mark Goodrich on October 13, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I uploaded most of the photos now on the site for this theater and I was wondering if anyone knows approximately when the Atlantic ceased operating as a movie venue. I have looked everywhere and can’t locate a decent photo of the theater when it was in operation. Can any help or direct me? Thanks!

Mark Goodrich
Mark Goodrich on October 13, 2017 at 4:37 pm

I also find it sad that I’m unable to see anything in the new library that mentions the theater at all. I expected there to be something about the history of the site…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 13, 2017 at 6:49 pm

The Atlantic was operating as a Chinese language movie house at least as late as 1983, when this photo was taken. It was pretty shabby by then. I’ve never seen a photo from the period when it was a regular movie house, or from the 1970s when it was running porn movies.

Sillyheart55 on November 5, 2017 at 10:22 am

It’s terrible how cities don’t believe in historical value anymore. I remember that The Crest Theater was gone by 1979, then it was The Towne and now it’s the Atlantic Theater. Oh boy! They saved the spire for the new building! Sad … The people making the decisions must be under 40 years old. They think that EVERYTHING over 40 is old. They probably think the same thing of people.

cabartlvr on December 25, 2017 at 11:50 am

Mark Goodrich – Did some research on your question about when the Atlantic stopped showing traditional movies. Last ad I have found for the Atlantic showing traditional movies was December 29, 1972. Double feature, “Greatest Story Ever Told” plus “The Ten Commandments.” Any seat any time, 99 cents, kids 49 cents. Then I find no ads for the Atlantic until June 9, 1973 which stated “Adults only, get acquainted admission $2.00.” Unfortunately I have been unable to find any photos of the Atlantic when it operated as a traditional movie house. Remember attending several “kiddie matinee” programs there back in the 1960’s. A beautiful theater but considered by most as second rate compared to the Towne & Crest Theaters.

BobBro on July 6, 2018 at 10:08 am

I remember seeing “Dr. No” at the Atlantic. That was probably 1962 or 63. Also went there for some Saturday matinees when I was younger. It was affiliated with the Lakewood Theater (on East Carson Street) at that time. I grew up in California Heights and my grandparents lived in Bixby Knolls. So the Towne and the Crest were my mainstays. But I have always been fascinated with movie theaters, even when I was a kid, and wanted to go to a movie in every theater in Long Beach.

rivest266 on March 15, 2021 at 11:53 am

Reopened on October 31st, 1979 after closing in 1976 showing Mexican movies under the Zacatecas name. It reopened again as Cinema Varidades on October 12th, 1980, and renamed Long Beach Big Screen in 1983, and closed in 1986. Grand opening ads posted.

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