Los Angeles, being the birthplace of the film industry, is the movie capitol of the world and the home to some of the coolest movie theaters on the planet. Cinephilia and film culture are staples of the city of angels and its residents are comprised of some of the most movie mad people in the United States. L.A . is filled with unique and exciting movie theaters that are sure to satiate the passions of its movie-obsessed residents. Whether you’re looking to catch the latest blockbuster or watch some classics on the big screen, L.A. is sure to have the perfect movie theater for you.
The most obvious example of a movie theater geared towards cinephiles. The Arclight is a classy movie palace that plays hard-to-find indie and arthouse fare, blockbuster tentpoles, and classic revival cinema. The Arclight Hollywood is home to one of the most famous and impressive movie screens in the country: the Cinerama Dome. Its wrap-around, curved screen being the product of the cinemascope features of Old Hollywood. The Arclight is indeed a very elegant upscale movie theater that comes equipped with a restaurant, coffee shop, and a gift shop catered to movie lovers. The Arclight has reserved, stadium seating that insures you won’t have to wait in a long line to get a good seat. All the screens are very large and the theaters themselves are quite comfortable. As a movie theater that is catered to movie lovers, you will find a lot of indie and arthouse films that are not in wide release. Their “Arclight Presents…” program offers movie fans a chance to catch some of their favorite movies on the big screen and is a great way to experience the classics the way they were meant to be seen. The theater is adorned with posters and memorabilia from classic movies and current blockbusters.
Graumann’s Chinese Theater
This is the best way to see newly released films and an essential part of the L.A. experience. The movie palace is located on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Outside the movie theater, you will find the handprints and autographs of some of the worlds’ biggest movie stars, past and present. The historical Chinese theater is where many big studio films have their red carpet premieres and it’s easy to see why. Inside, the movie theater looks like a palace worthy of royalty. The architecture, inspired by Chinese culture, is gorgeous and wondrous to behold. The decorations on the ceiling will have you staring for long periods of time, trying to decipher the intricate little details. The large red-draped curtains that open the screen are reminiscent of the grandiosity of old world Hollywood. The Chinese theater is a single screen and might be the most impressive one in the city. The recent renovations that have upgraded the screen to IMAX and renovated the sound system have helped to make this theater one hell of a movie-going experience. You don’t just watch films at the Chinese theater, you become a part of them. The perfect movie theater to watch the latest big-budget tentpole of your choice.
Graumann’s Egyptian Theater
Graumann’s Egyptian theater has been declared a historical landmark due to its illustrious history. Home to the first Hollywood red carpet premiere, the Egyptian retains much of its elegance and sense of film history. The theater was built in 1922 and was the world’s first lavish movie palace. The theater was abandoned as the place of Hollywood red-carpet movie premieres as it was supplanted by the even more grandiose Chinese theater, located not too far away. Whereas the Chinese theater is the place to go to experience the latest from Hollywood, the Egyptian is where you go to discover films from the past. Owned and operated by the non-profit American Cinematheque since 1998, the Egyptian has arguably become the most popular revival movie theater in L.A. The theater plays tons of classics from the golden age of cinema right down through cinema’s most recent decade. The theater still retains much of its original look with Egyptian inspired architecture and still carries the feel of Hollywood past. Their selection of classic films is varied and wide ranging, with something to please every kind of cinema fan. Whether you’re looking to watch a forgotten gem from the silent era or a Stanley Kubrick classic on the big screen, the Egyptian theater is the place for you.
New Beverly Cinema
The only revival theater in the Los Angeles area that can compete with the popularity of the Egyptian theater. This one is owned by none other than Quentin Tarantino himself. The famed movie-geek turned Auteur owns and operates this theater and even provides his own film prints of classic movies to be screened. The theater has a low-tech, very old-school vibe and that’s part of its charm. The screen isn’t the largest there is but it is an impressive experience. Double features play for only $8, so it’s a hard proposition to pass up. In keeping with Tarantino’s love and passion for film, there are no digital screenings at this theater. Everything that plays here comes courtesy of a 35mm film print, providing movie-goers with the real deal when it comes to big screen cinematic experiences. The theater isn’t fancy but it’s very comfortable and has a kind of character that a higher-tech movie theater could never provide. Watching a film here feels like stepping into a 1970’s time capsule.
This movie theater is like a more down-to-earth version of the Arclight cinemas. This theater plays all the latest blockbuster fare along with harder to find independent and art house cinema. The theater itself isn’t too fancy but it’s extremely comfortable, the screens are a nice size, and the selection of current films playing is top-notch.
Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater
Founded in 2007 by Hadrian Belove and the Harkins family, few cinemas in L.A. possess this kind of character and personality. The theater itself is adorned with portraits of silent film stars and is decorated to look how a movie theater would look in the early parts of the 20th century. This theater boasts a diverse and wide-ranging list of films to watch and savor. Everything from cheap B-movies to classic cinema to the latest quirky indie gems from around the world. They also have a great variety of international documentaries from some of the world’s most respected filmmakers. When it comes to variety and selection, Cinefamily has it all. Filmmakers have been known to stop by for Q&A’ s with the audience and they usually sell out very fast. Also known for a unique selection of food and snacks.
Bing Theater at LACMA
Located inside L.A.’s premiere art museum, this is a place for only the world’s finest cinema. Being a theater designed for giving cinema the status and respect of highest art, you won’t find the latest blockbusters playing here. Instead, expect to see retrospectives on such revered filmmakers as Stanley Kubrick. Martin Scorsese, and Tim Burton. The retrospectives usually coincide with its exhibits. Every Tuesday night, the BING theater hosts screenings of classic Hollywood films. Film Independent hosts series here that range from new releases to documentaries to classics and to, occasionally, a guest-curated program. The theater is very large and the screen is particularly impressive for how tall it is. A must visit for anyone who places cinema alongside the highest art forms in the world.
The Aero Theater
Owned and operated by the American Cinematheque, this is an extension of the Egyptian theater. Like the Egyptian, this theater plays a wide range of revival cinema. While it may lack the grandiose appearance of its more lavish counterpart, their selection is every bit as wide ranging and the theater itself is extremely comfy. If you’re a regular patron of the Egyptian, this is another must-visit movie theater.
Fun Fact: This movie theater was featured in Richard Kelly’s cult classic, Donnie Darko (2001). In the film, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Donnie Darko takes a female companion to see the odd double feature pairing of The Evil Dead (1981) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
The Frida Cinema
Owned and operated by the non-profit Long Beach Cinematheque, this is a theater strictly for diehard film lovers and connoisseurs. Rarely will you ever find very much modern mainstream fare here. Instead, come to this theater looking for the latest indie hits on the festival circuit (Including short films) and beloved cinematic classics. This theater occasionally has special screenings where alcohol is served, giving the theater the feel of a raucous concert packed with cinephiles having a blast. The owners of this theater are known to plan special events both at the Frida and at outdoor screenings across Long Beach and Orange County.
Perhaps the swankiest and most upscale movie theater in Los Angeles, outclassing the Arclight theater in many ways. Some of the theaters even come equipped with couches, helping to max out the comfort level of your experience. The theater also has a reputation for providing the best food and alcohol of any movie theater in Los Angeles. The menu features such delicious items as prosciutto and provolone sandwiches and cappuccinos. The full-service wine bar offers a high selection of wines and beers and even offers happy hour discounts to its patrons. Where so many great L.A. movie theaters come with the challenge of finding good parking, The Landmark deletes this issue by providing over 3,000 parking spaces to its customers. The screens are large and the overall quality of virtually everything here is premium. Essential for anyone looking for a top-notch movie theater experience.