The Million Dollar Theatre One of LA’s Oldest Movie Palaces

Living in Los Angeles has some perks and one of my favorite perks is all of our beautiful movie theatres from the Golden Age of Hollywood. While some of these theatres like the TCL Chinese Theatre are still open daily others like The Million Dollar Theatre only open up for a few events throughout the year. Every summer the Los Angeles Conservatory hosts Last Remaining Seats which is a program that shows classic movies at the various movie palaces. Currently, Street Food Cinema is hosting Cinema Phantasmagoria at the theatre on select nights in October showing scary movies.

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cinema phantasmagoria

The Million Dollar Theatre opened in Downtown Los Angeles in 1918. It was one of the first movie palaces in the United States. The theatre was built by Sid Grauman who also built the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre. The exterior of the building is what I found to be the most spectacular part of its design. Inside I was a little disappointed that the theatre didn’t seem to have the same feeling of grandeur and charm that the Los Angeles Theatre has. It’s still a cool building, but compared to some of the other theatres it doesn’t stand out.

You might have seen the Million Dollar Theatre before. This is where Tom and Summer come to watch The Graduate in 500 Days of Summer.

bradbury building
Bradbury Building

The location of the theatre is good for those wanting a fun experience in downtown. Across the street, you’ll find the Bradbury Building. Most guests are not permitted to walk far into the building but the lobby is the iconic spot that you’ll most likely recognize from movies like The Blade Runner. Next door to the theatre is Grand Central Market with several different eating options. Behind Grand Central Market you’ll find the historic Angels Flight.

My Mom and I watched Hocus Pocus at the Million Dollar Theatre last week and had a lovely time. I was especially excited about this event as this was the only movie palace in LA that I had not visited yet. There are still a few remaining dates for Cinema Phantasmagoria and you can find discounted tickets via Goldstar. During these screenings, they are offering a backstage ghost tour which tells the story of an actress who died at the theatre in the 1920s. The ghost tour is an additional charge. You can get the ghost tour tickets at the door.

the million dollar theatre

One of my favorite things about visiting the old theatres is thinking about all of the stars who have been there. The host for the movie night pointed out that in the center section the third seat from the left was Charlie Chaplin’s seat. So of course, I had to get a picture sitting there.

the million dollar theatre downtown los angeles

The lobby has lovely wooden paintings of early movies that held premieres at the theatre. Other things to see include a tiny barbershop upstairs. Even though this is not my favorite movie palace I still recommend checking it out.