Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre
Photo from the Landmark Theatres collection
8556 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills CA
|Record #3912 |
Opened: April 21, 1937|
Capacity: 410 seats|
Architect(s): Joseph Musil; B Marcus Priteca
Architectural Style(s): Art Deco
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: Regina, Fine Arts, Cecchi Gori Fine Arts|
| Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres, National General Theatres, Mann Theatres, Laemmle Theatres, AMC Theatres, Classic Movie Theatres|
Information for this tour was contributed by TJ Edwards.
The Wilshire Regina Theatre in Beverly Hills opened Wednesday, April 21, 1937. The first program was THAT GIRL FROM PARIS, and BLACK LEGION, plus a MARCH OF TIME newsreel and a cartoon. Seating was General Admission at "Popular Prices" -- 25 cents for adults, 10 cents for children.
Built at a cost of $75,000, the theatre sat 800 people (in smaller seats than are used today). Initial press coverage mentioned the design firm of B. Marcus Priteca but did not credit the theatre's design directly to him. Opening day newspaper ads announced a "Magic Fountain for Young and Old", and a "Theaterette in Ladies Lounge" as special features.
In 1949 the Fox theatre chain took over, changed the name to the Fine Arts, and added a tall blade sign to the center of the facade. (It has since been removed.)
The Fine Arts hosted the World Premiere of George Stevens "A Place in the Sun", in 1951, and In 1959 ROOM AT THE TOP, billed as "The Most Daring Film in a Decade" played there for over six months.
In 1974 THE EXORCIST drew long lines around the block into a residential area that didn't appreciate the attention. Local residents called for changes in parking regulations and even restrictions on the theatre's schedule.
The Cecchi Gori film company took over and renovated in 1993. Theatre Designer Joseph Musil, who also redesigned the El Capitan in Hollywood and the Crest in Westwood, brought his colorful theatrical flair to the new Cecchi Gori Fine Arts.
Some time after the fifties, the original small forecourt and free-standing boxoffice were eliminated for an interior lobby, which has since been further enlarged by moving in the back wall of the auditorium. A new 14x33' screen was installed several feet in front of the old proscenium to accomodate wider aspect ratios. This re- configuring, moving in the front and back walls, and the use of somewhat wider seats, reduced the theatre's capacity to 428.
Two stores that flanked the theatre were converted into a full concession stand and an expansion of the ladies room. The boxoffice window is now located between the front entrance doors. Changes to the interior have been substantial enough to make it difficult to attribute the theatre's current overall look to any one person. The theatre's original marquee and facade remain essentially unaltered.
The Fine Arts has been acquired by Classic Movie Theatres, a new division of Screening Services Group. In addition to some enhancements in decor, the theatre will be equipped to handle multiple film and video formats, including 70mm, 2K Digital Cinema, and Dolby Digital EX. The theatre will be hosting private screenings and premieres in addition to presenting films to the public on weekends. Parking for the theatre will be available at the Flynt building on the corner of Wilshire and LaCienega.
Cecchi Gori resumed control of the theater in 2009, with plans to renovate and reopen in the fall.
The 1993 remodel resulted in Cecchi Gori partnering with AMC Theatres to operate the theatre.
Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.
September 2009 photos from the Matt Lutthans collection.
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Photos from the Classic Movie Theatres collection.
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Last featured 11/26/2005. Last edited 12/20/2017.