Vista Theatre is hands down my favorite place to see a movie in Los Angeles. Originally opened as the Lou Bard Playhouse in 1923, the Vista truly represents Old Hollywood style and charm. I am a sucker for anything from the 1920s, so with its Egyptian/Art Deco design elements and plush, red velvet curtains adorning the walls, the theater won me over the first time I walked down its carpeted aisles.
From the marquee out front, you immediately know that the Vista has just one screen. This is a huge factor making the choice to come here, in that, only one movie playing at a time means no absurdly long lines to stand in to purchase a ticket, to buy popcorn or to actually get into the theater. I’ve seen lines wrap around the corner for screenings of blockbuster releases from time to time, but they’re nothing compared to the havoc at the ArcLight, the Grove or Americana at Brand.
You don’t have to pay for parking, and ticket prices at the Vista are always cheaper than all of the multiplexes in the area. Its 50-foot screen and state-of-the-art Dolby Digital sound are on par with most of those theaters as well. The only time I go anywhere else is if a film is in 3D. Those with long legs also benefit from the amount of space in between the rows of seats – the best legroom ever.
House manager, Victor Martinez, makes the theater-going experience even more fun when he takes your ticket with a smile and in costume as a character from whatever movie is playing. I’ve seen him dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, Spider-Man and Harry Potter.
The sidewalk in front of the Vista boasts celebrity handprints that any cult/indie cinephile would enjoy. The cast and crew of Swingers, Paper Moon, Showgirls and Ed Wood are just some of those immortalized. The theater also hosts concerts from artists like Tenacious D, Ricki Lee Jones and Jenny Lewis. I saw She & Him perform there in 2008, and the sound was great.
Instead of going to the multiplex nearest you, see World War Z at the Vista this weekend. Victor just might be wearing a zombie costume.
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