Face it. Los Angeles is a magnet for cinema buffs as well as those lovers of the silver screen hoping to receive their very own shining star on Hollywood Blvd. In the City of Angels, going-to-the-movies is not a mere pastime, but basically a religion. So it really is no surprise that this actor, writer, director, producer, set designer, and other movie professional-filled town has a bountiful array of cinemas to choose from.
With so many fine and wonderful venue options, L.A. movie theaters often go out of their way to woo the cinephile crowds by offering audiences with grandiose amenities that top the crampy seating, typical blockbuster programming, and junky concession foods available at other locations. Think ultra-comfortable recliners, expanded leg room, and in-theater food/cocktails served to your hearts desire. Or screenings of hard-to-find indie fare, classics spanning the history of cinema, and bunches of glitzy social gatherings to pencil in. Film aficionados can easily find an elevated movie-going experience anywhere and everywhere all over Tinsel Town. Here are ten of the best movie theaters Los Angeles has to offer.
Los Angeles Movie Theaters: Catch Your Next Film at One of These 10 Fantastic Theaters
1. iPic Theaters
It’s the ritziest of the bunch and is perhaps the closest you'll come to watching new releases in your own living room. The posh cinema boasts not one but two Los Angeles locations—a Pasadena branch that debuted in 2009 and a Westwood site that launched more recently.
The historic Old Town venue boasts a rustic-chic lobby that’s lined with wooden branches and leads to various small theaters outfitted with wide leather seats. Its sister location offers recliners that come with a tablet that lets you order from a menu overseen by world renowned chef Sherry Yard. iPic is the place to go for a truly luxurious movie and dining experience where you can not only enjoy a cool, modern lounge vibe, but gourmet food selections and handcrafted cocktails delivered right to the comfort of your plush blanket-and-pillow included seats.
iPic Theaters is located in Pasadena at 42 Miller Alley and Westwood at 10840 Wilshire Blvd.
2. Landmark Theatres & Nuart Theatre
As the nation’s largest theatre chain since 1974, this one is as known for exhibiting and promoting artistic, independent avant-garde films as it is for showcasing mainstream movies and blockbusters. With top-notch digital projection and sound, twelve auditoriums, and over 3,000 parking spaces (with three hours free!) for you and all of your dear dear friends—as well as a whole posse of all their friends-- this swanky theater also offers the best theater food in the City of Angels. From its full service wine bar, featuring anything from red and white to bubbly and beer, there’s also a massive array of cappuccinos, fancy treats, as well as happy hour discounts. What’s more is that everything is super reasonably priced. You can even choose to rent the entire theater out for special events, or cozy up on one of the love seats in the venue's luxurious Screening Lounges.
Also run by the folks behind the Landmark is another hotspot for ALL cinephiles to flock towards: the Nuart. This historic theatre dating back to the early 1940s is a true art house favorite, featuring restored classics, indie films, art-house curios, foreign fare, documentaries, and revealing Q&As with notable directors. Friday midnight screenings of cult revivals or ongoing Saturday midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show are also a can’t miss. Plus, it stands right nearby CineFile Video, a cult rental store specializing in unusual and hard-to-find films. Create some double movie madness by seeing a rare film as well as taking one home. Better yet, satisfy those constant movie cravings by swinging on by both awesome venues.
Landmark Theatres is located at Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles at
10850 West Pico Blvd.
Nuart Theatre is located in Los Angeles at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd.
3. ArcLight Cinemas
The entire ArcLight chainlet of theaters has been revered by film buffs for ages, especially its Hollywood location, which touts the historic Cinerama dome as its crown jewel. The iconic, super-sized dimpled golf ball was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural monument in 1998. Theater amenities include assigned (not to mention cushy and reclining) stadium seating, state-of-the-art sound and screen technology, fantastic snack bars, an in-house café-bar (alcohol is allowed in some screenings!), and a no-commercials policy guarantee that provides a totally and completely uninterrupted viewing experience. It’s been a Tinsel Town fave since 2002 and is considered the most appealing modern multiplex in L.A., offering a wide program list that’s always a bright mix of indies, first-run flicks, foreign fare, and premieres. Added bonus: There are always fun cinephile treats on display such as original costumes and architectural models.
ArcLight Hollywood is located in Hollywood at 6360 Sunset Blvd.
4. Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas
Simply said, this is one of those theatres that has truly changed the movie-going experience. Offering a perfect combination of high-end relaxation along with modern amenities, all Cinépolis auditoriums offer around 70 premium leather recliners, reserved online seating, an exclusive lobby/lounge and restaurant/bar area featuring a selection of great gourmet menu items (such as the house specialty ‘Zebra’ popcorn which is covered in white and dark chocolates!), and waiter service to have everything brought to you while you sit back and just relax. Talk about luxury.
Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas is located in Westlake Village at 180 Promenade Way
5. Cinefamily at Silent Movie Theater
The brainchild of L.A. native Hadrian Belove (founder of CineFile Video) and the Harkham family, this art-house film organization makes movie-going seem more like a fun social club experience by screening offbeat genre films and rare gems at its historic Silent Movie Theater (which, by the way, is no longer silent, except for first Wednesdays of the month) right alongside special guests, live music, dance parties, and potlucks to coincide with the films. Basically, the venue showcases the most diverse, wacky, and thought-provoking programming in the city-- from buzz-worthy masterpieces to kitschy second-rate movies—all with fun foodie favorite concessions such as giant cupcakes and lattes galore.
Plus, there’s even something fun for all the tiny tots around town, who can attend the monthly early Saturday Animation Breakdown fests, with themes such as heroes, science, and cats. Pajama-wearing little ones can nibble on sugary cereal in the courtyard all while enjoying everybody’s most cherished weekend pastime: Watching silly morning cartoons. Yes, please.
Cinefamily is located in Los Angeles at 611 N Fairfax Ave.
6. Electric Dusk Drive-In
Right in the heart of Downtown, this funky drive-in hosts awesome film showings as well as private screenings and special events. Park and enjoy the movie right from the comfort of your own car, or better yet, snag an astroturf ticket to sit on the "grass” for the ultimate outdoor-movie date night. There’s also a snack order sheet to fill out and hand back to your carhop upon arrival— treats such as gourmet cookies or BBQ selections will then be brought right over to you. And as if this doesn’t already sound super cool and rad, the drive-in is also pet-friendly, so bring along those pups and kittens! Screenings are on Saturdays usually a couple of times each month.
Electric Dusk Drive-In is located in Los Angeles at 1000 San Julian St.
7. Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
These John Wyatt-developed picnic film screenings are a summertime fave for Angelenos, not to mention one of the best outdoor activities the city has to offer. Classic (both black-and-white and contemporary) films are projected onto a wall of one of the larger mausoleums in the famous cemetery, and let’s just say that the carpe diem ambience truly enchants-- though the ample amount alcohol also helps! There’s even a mood-setting DJ and a slide show of vintage film posters to relax audience members before the main event. Beware though: The line to get inside is always a struggle, as well as an event all its own, with moviegoers setting up shop and breaking out the snacks long before the gates even open. So get there early!
Cinespia located in Hollywood at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd.
8. El Capitan Theatre
Originally a vaudeville house, this gorgeous 1926 movie palace has been known as “Disney’s home on Hollywood Boulevard” since 1991. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s all just princesses, fairies, and talking animals. There is also Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, which are all under the Mickey Mouse umbrella as well. What’s more is that six times out of every year, the theatre features Throwback Thursday, allowing Facebook audience members the chance to choose a favorite classic to play on the big screen. Most recently it was The Emperor’s New Groove, complete with a pre-show costume contest. There are also special sing-along events with on-screen lyrics, where grown-ups and 6-year-olds alike can truly just “Let It Go.” Plus, Tiny Tot Tuesdays occur on a weekly basis, featuring films that are screened with the lights turned up a bit and the volume turned way down. Guests can even savor milkshakes and banana splits from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop next door. Sweet.
El Capitan Theatre is located in Hollywood at 6838 Hollywood Blvd.
9. TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX
Formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, this one’s arguably the most famous movie house in the entire world. The Hollywood landmark made its debut in 1927 and has since then, hosted thousands of premieres from Wizard of Oz to Titanic. These days, movie lovers are likely to find the latest and greatest big studio features playing on the massive 97 by 47 foot screen inside the world’s largest IMAX auditorium. However, the TCL Chinese never sheds its historic roots and to this day, is the home of the Turner Classic Film Festival, which takes place annually each spring. The venue also offers VIP Tours, the only tour in town where you can learn about the development of this renowned cinema from inside to out.
TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX is located in Hollywood at 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
10. Laemmle Playhouse 7
It’s a cornerstone for truly great film, previews, screenings, events, and is no doubt one of the most hallowed places in L.A. to catch the best independent and foreign films. Established in 1938, the company is still run by the (you guessed it!) Laemmle family and has eight locations all over California. Torn between a couple great flicks to see? Make sure to check out their website for an ever-changing list of staff favorites. And always remember to take advantage of their plentiful discounts, including the free Sneaks Club (sneak peek screenings), Student Sundays, and Free Popcorn Thursdays.
Laemmle Playhouse 7 is located in Pasadena at 673 E Colorado Blvd.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.