Vista Theatre (Los Angeles)

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Vista Theatre
Lou Bard Playhouse
4473 Sunset.JPG
Address 4473 Sunset Drive
Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°05′54″N 118°17′13″W / 34.0984°N 118.2869°W / 34.0984; -118.2869
Operator Vintage Cinemas
Type Egyptian
Capacity 400[1]
Opened October 16, 1923
Architect Lewis A. Smith[2]

Vista Theatre is a historic single-screen movie theater in Los Angeles, California, located in Los Feliz on the border with East Hollywood.


Vista Theatre opened on October 16, 1923, as a single-screen theater. In addition to screening films, the theater also showed vaudeville acts on stage.[2] Originally known as Lou Bard Playhouse on opening day in 1923, the cinema played the film Tips with Baby Peggy.[3] The original seating capacity in the auditorium held space for 838 seats. The owners later removed every other row to allow for increased legroom, reducing the number of seats to 400.[1]

It is one of the remaining historic structures from the 1920s, when Hollywood was first built up and began attracting residents to its new suburban homes from areas near downtown Los Angeles and East Los Angeles, at the time middle and wealthy class sections of Los Angeles.

Until its refurbishment by Thomas Theaters in 1980, the theatre showed soft-core porn, then to hard-core porn and finally gay porn for 20 years. It also showed gay-oriented non-pornographic films, including the local premiere of The Times of Harvey Milk.[4]

The theater is a local landmark. It has been renovated to play new release movies, and retains its historic architecture.

In a manner reminiscent of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the theater's forecourt features cement handprints and footprints of notable film figures. However, the handprints and footprints at the Vista Theatre tend to include more icons of independent and cult films such as Spike Jonze, John C. Reilly and Martin Landau, among many others.

It is used in the 3am portion of Pharrell Williams's song "Happy" as part of the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, and also appears on the album cover of 1990's "Lights...Camera...Revolution!" by Suicidal Tendencies.


  1. ^ a b "Cinemas Around the World - Vista Theatre, Los Angeles CA". CinemaTour. 2003-08-19. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Vista Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "Welcome to Vintage Cinemas". Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  4. ^ Gordon, Larry (1985-06-15). "Vista Theater May Have Had Its Last Revival". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-12-26.