orange popcornAs Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, X-Men Days of Future Past, and Maleficent are set to kick off the summer movie season (and that’s just in May), fans are ready to gather together and witness explosions and monster visual effects. Summer movies shine in theaters, and in light of recent improvements to home systems, distributors have started to kick the theater-going experience up a notch, with gorgeous lounges, amazing acoustics, gourmet dining, and musical numbers.

In preparation for the season, SSN has compiled a list of Los Angeles’s best theaters. Agree or disagree with our picks? Sound off in comments.

soho house

Best Party Space
Soho House West Hollywood
The Landmark (West LA)

SSN Insight: If you need to rent a theater, the 50-seat Soho House is your best bet, with cashmere blankets, a 25-foot communal lounging couch, velvet upholstered seats, and Beta Camtho Cam, in addition to the classic wood-paneled Club Room and Roof Garden. The Landmark’s trio of theaters that feature all-couch seating makes for a comfy space to share with friends.

Best Dine-In
Winner: AMC Marina 6 (Marina Del Rey)
Runner-Up: iPic Theater (Pasadena)

SSN Insight: The newly-revamped Marina 6 is the perfect theater for waiting out traffic on a Tuesday after work. Theaters sell out quickly, as each only holds about 40 leather recliners; noise levels are kept to a minimum, as only those 21-and-up are admitted; and with a full bar and dinner menu economically priced, this is one luxury that won’t beat up your wallet. The iPic has all dine-in theaters beat with its Chinois Chicken Salad Rolls, but the prices are extreme, a movie costing $29 before the dinner tab hits the table.


Best Interior Design
Sundance Sunset Cinema (West Hollywood)
iPic Theater (Pasadena)

SSN Insight:Out with the Laemmle Sunset 5 and in with the newly-renovated Sundance Sunset Cinema, owned by Robert Redford. With décor shaded in earth tones, leather chairs in the hallway, a curated art gallery, bamboo plants, and carpet with forest pattern, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an upscale woodsmen’s lodge. The iPic theater goes for the classic movie theater colors of red and gold and its large lounge area serves as a swanky central hub on your way to your seat.

Best Family Movie Night
Winner: El Capitan
Runner-Up: Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live

SSN Insight: It’s no surprise that Disney does right when it comes to putting on a show. In addition to showing films, the El Capitan hosts sing-alongs, bounces beach balls from the balcony, casts snow from the rafters, and features a mini-museum in the basement. They also have magicians, live animals, and brief musical numbers. Regal Cinemas are a distant second, but $7 Tuesdays mean family movie night won’t break the bank, and its L.A. Live location means you can go bowling at Lucky Strike afterward.


Best Corporate Screening Room
Winner: UTA
Runners-Up: Paramount Theater, Warner Bros. Screening Room 12, CAA Red Room

SSN Insight: Hands-down, UTA has one of the best screening rooms in L.A., if not the country. They were rumored to spend as much as $4.7 million on the Rottet Studio-designed construction, which comes complete with a Barco 4K projector, audio by Meyer Sound, Annie Leibovitz’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, plush banquette seating, and a private entrance via an underground valet lot. The large Paramount theater, with a 24’ by 51’ screen; the CAA red room; and the 2,400-square foot screening room 12 at Warner Bros. all make the grade.

Best Introductions
Winner: Arclight Cinerama Dome
Runner-Up: The Landmark (West LA)

SSN Insight: Robert Downey, Jr., Tobey Maguire, and Jon Favreau are among the celebrities that have subtly taken the place of ushers to introduce their films at the Arclight’s Cinerama Dome. When celebs aren’t on hand, ushers at both the Arclight and Landmark joke with the crowd, announce the runtime, and stick around to make sure that sound and picture are up to snuff.

sherry lansing theater

Best Acoustics
Winner: The Sherry Lansing Theater on the Paramount Lot
Runners-Up: Paramount (Big) Theater, Fox’s Darryl F. Zanuck Theater, USC Frank Sinatra Theater

SSN Insight: Now that Paramount spent a bundle to upgrade the Sherry Lansing Theater to a Dolby Digital Surround EX 6.1 system—per James Cameron’s exact specifications for Titanic’s 3-D conversion, this theater’s sound is in a class onto itself. The runners-up are the large Paramount theater; the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot, which has incredible atmospheric sound often used for re-mastering films; and USC’s Frank Sinatra Theater which was one of the first with THX sound.

Best XXL Screen
Winner: Cinemark 18 Theater (Howard Hughes Center)
Runners-Up: TCL Chinese Theater, Universal Citywalk

SSN Insight: While many chains have installed IMAX-trademarked screens, in reality there are only two true, massive IMAX screens in L.A.—at Universal Citywalk and the TCL Chinese Theater. The Cinemark dropped IMAX and remodeled the theater with a wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screen, branding it ‘XD’.  Where the theater separates itself from TCL is in its seating design; there’s not a bad seat in the house at the Cinemark, while some of the side seating at the TCL leaves much to be desired.

eat see hear

Best Outdoor Theater
Winner: Eat, See, Hear
Runner-Ups: Street Food Cinema

SSN Insight: The Showtime-sponsored Eat, See, Hear organizes summer events with an abundant selection of food trucks, live bands, fun giveaways, and a giant screen, all under the stars at various venues across the city. The first movie of the season is none other than 500 Days of Summer,on May 10. The similar Street Food Cinema is a close runner-up.

Best New Tech
Winner: Regal L.A. Live 4DX Theater
Runner-Up: TCL Chinese

SSN Insight: Buzzed about at CinemaCon, and coming to Regal L.A. Live this July, is the nation’s first 4DX theater, designed by Korean company CJ 4DPLEX. At a cost of $2 million, the theater will immerse the audience by shooting air, bubbles, and water, in addition to flashing strobe lights, scents, and rocking chairs. The TCL Chinese got a major renovation and was blessed with one of the first 2K IMAX laser digital projectors, and two 4K Christie Digital projectors.

tcl chinese

Best Premiere Location
Winner: TCL Chinese
Runners-Up: The Village Theater (Westwood), El Capitan, Regal L.A. Live

SSN Insight: The renamed TCL Chinese Theater is still the best theater to hold a premiere, bar-none. The theater features a recently-installed 94’ by 46’ screen, new projectors, and accommodates 932 attendees, making it the largest IMAX theater in the world. In addition, it features mood LED lighting, a feature Sid Graumann originally desired; along with a green room and orchestra pit that can be well-utilized for Q&A’s. Hold-overs include the iconic Village Theater, sister theater of the once-great Carthay Circle; Disney’s magical El Capitan; and Regal L.A. Live, which is a hop from Katsuya for the after party.

Best Private Screening Room
Winner: Michael Bay
Runners-Up: Steven Spielberg, Brett Ratner, Peter Guber, Michael Chow

SSN Insight: If you’re lucky enough to be among the industry elite, you may have been to Michael Bay’s screening room.His $2 million, 49-seat, Jeff Cooper-designed screening room includes something special, reports the Wall Street Journal. “To create a starry sky that appealed to Mr. Bay’s love of special effects, Mr. Cooper is topping the theater with an elliptical dome and fiber-optic stars,” along with a 16-foot screen. No need to hit the multiplex for new releases, as Bay’s a member of the Bel-Air circuit, an exclusive group who get films before they’re released. Rounding out the list is Spielberg’s iPad-controlled room; Ratner’s A-frame arched room; and Guber’s lounge complete with a Batman costume on display.

arclight dome

Best Opening Night
Winner: Arclight Cinerama Dome
Runner-Up: El Capitan

SSN Insight: What used to be a geek-tastic night filled with costumes, celeb sightings, and cheers from ignited fans at 12:01 a.m. premieres, the atmosphere at the Cinerama Dome has been effectively dulled by sneak peeks at more bearable times, like Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. It’s still fun to see fans in costumes and to hear the oohs and aahs of an enraptured audience, but a lot of the air has been taken out of the tires. Disney’s showmanship comes through at the El Capitan, which manages to recapture some of the glory, but at the expense of a less industry crowd.

Best Off the Wall Experience
Winner: Cinespia screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Runner-Up: Electric Dusk Drive-In

SSN Insight: What used to be an underground event is now a popular summer rite of Angelinos, as Cinespia hosts screenings projected on a mausoleum wall at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If you’re feeling nostalgic, park it on the roof of the City Market in downtown L.A. for a show at the Electric Dusk Drive-in, the only year round drive-in in Los Angeles. It’s pet-friendly, features a snack shack with BBQ, and offers artificial turf in front for al fresco viewing.


Best Return to the Golden Age
Winner: The Egyptian Theater
Runner-Up: The Cinefamily Silent Movie Theater

SSN Insight: The $15 million dollar 1996 restoration of the Egyptian brought the theater back to its heyday with numerous palms, billowing columns, and recessed hieroglyphics. The American Cinematheque keeps the place busy with an endless stream of events, including a Noir series, TCM Classic Film Festival, Deconstructing Taxi Driver: A Master Class In Screen Direction, and many more. Meanwhile the Cinefamily Silent Movie Theater has been fully restored to its original, vintage 1940s art deco design. They keep it fresh with events like The Doug Benson Movie Interpretation.

Agree or disagree with SSN’s picks? Sound off in comments, and wherever you buy a ticket, enjoy the show!

Diane Panosian

Diane Panosian is an editor for SSN Insider with a focus on financial and awards tracking.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Wayne

    The reason why Cinemark ditched Imax at Howard Hughes and replaced it with their proprietary XD is that not every movie comes out in Imax but every movie can be shown in XD. If you Google around you will find people saying that XD is not in league with Imax but it’s equal or better than a non-Imax movie.

  2. saling

    Holy cow, thank you very much for posting this! It is going to aid me when I am thinking about going to the movies in Peoria! I am from Vancouver so I am not familiar with Peoria. Next time I visit my family will be so much better! Mind Blowing!

  3. Landmark Cinemas

    Omfg, thanks very much for posting this! It is going to be so helpful when I am thinking about going to Landmark Cinemas in Peoria! I am from Ottawa so I am not familiar with Peoria. Next time I see my family will be so much better! Super Marvelous!

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