The Best Movie Theatres in Los Angeles

Experience the movies in landmark theatres and state-of-the-art cinemas

The Dome at ArcLight Hollywood

There are nearly 40,000 movie screens in the U.S.; not all are created equally. Here in Los Angeles, we are blessed with some of the most outstanding movie theaters in the country. Some are historic, some feature state-of-the-art technology - or even a mix of both. Others offer such cutting edge fare, you’d be hard-pressed to find these films anywhere else. So the next time you go to the movies, why not make it one of these L.A. spots. Just be warned, once you visit one, it may be hard to go back to your neighborhood multiplex.

The New Beverly Cinema | Photo: The New Beverly

New Beverly Cinema

The New Beverly Cinema may have the most colorful history of any movie theater in Los Angeles. It has been home to a candy maker, a nightclub called Slapsy Maxie’s and an X-rated theatre. And that’s not the half of it. In December 2007, Oscar-winning filmmaker Quentin Tarantino bought the building that houses the New Beverly Cinema. Tarantino famously said, "As long as I'm alive, and as long as I'm rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm." Beginning in September 2014, Tarantino took over the programming duties. Many of the 35mm and 16mm prints shown are from his private collection.

After closing in January 2018 for "a variety of exciting upgrades and enhancements," the New Beverly celebrated its grand reopening on December 1 and is back with a full schedule of double features, Kiddee Matinees, Midnight Shows and holiday-themed screenings.

Video Vortex | Photo: Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles

Alamo Drafthouse

The long-delayed Alamo Drafthouse has finally opened at The Bloc in Downtown L.A. The first Los Angeles location of the acclaimed theatre chain features 12 screens and the Video Vortex, a multi-purpose lounge with a full bar, 45+ beers on tap, Tex-Mex food menu, vintage arcade games, board games, and more than 40,000 Blu-rays and DVDs available for FREE rental. The movie themed cocktails range from classics like the French 75 (as ordered in Casablanca) and the James Bond-inspired Vesper, to modern signatures like Inherent Vice and Bridesmaids.

Signature movie series include Afternoon Tea (period films served with tea and treats) and Old Fashioned, featuring cinema classics paired with craft cocktails.

Regal Cinemas at LA Live 

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE

There’s a reason many studios are hosting their premieres at the Regal L.A. LIVE Stadium 14: the 800-seat premiere cinema is one of the largest stadium auditoriums in the country. There are 13 additional auditoriums, including one featuring 4DX. What’s 4DX? Imagine watching a car chase and having your movie seat lean this way and that, or venturing through a waterfall on screen and feeling a gentle mist. The 4DX theater is like a movie and a theme park ride rolled into one. Have a sweet tooth? Don’t miss the Oreo churros at the concession stand.

The Dome at ArcLight Hollywood

ArcLight Cinemas - Hollywood

ArcLight Cinemas has multiple venues across the Los Angeles area. But only the Hollywood location has the Dome, the iconic, larger than life dimpled golf ball which was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural monument in 1998. And for good reason. The movie theater opened in 1963 as the Cinerama Dome with the premiere of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and has since hosted a number of other film and television premieres over the years. While some might associate the theater with blockbusters - who can forget the bright yellow Minion that recently took over the dome - you can often find first-run documentaries and classics on any one of the 15 screens. Try the signature caramel corn mixed with regular popcorn for a sweet and salty treat.

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX | Photo: TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

There aren’t many movie theaters that offer ticketed tours. Then again, there aren’t many movie theaters with the history of the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, arguably the most famous movie house in the world. Formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the landmark made its debut in 1927. Countless premieres have taken place here over the years, from Wizard of Oz to Titanic. These days, you’re likely to find the latest and greatest big studio film on the massive 97 by 47-foot screen, housed in the largest IMAX auditorium in the world. But the TCL Chinese also is the home of the Turner Classic Film Festival that takes place annually in the spring. Chief tour guide Levi Tinker is a fan of the mural by actor/artist Keye Luke in the entry. (Luke played the sage teacher on the television series Kung Fu.) And for those who could use a little luck, Tinker suggests doing like the stars do on premiere night and rubbing the arm of the life-size wax woman in the lobby.

Wurlitzer pipe organ | Photo courtesy of El Capitan Theatre

El Capitan Theatre

Since 1991, this gorgeous 1926 movie palace - originally a vaudeville house - has been known as “Disney’s home on Hollywood Boulevard.” But that doesn’t mean just princesses and talking dogs. After all, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar are all under the Disney umbrella. Six times a year, the El Capitan Theatre features Throwback Thursday, letting their Facebook audience choose a favorite classic. Recently it was Emperor’s New Groove, complete with a pre-show costume contest. There are also special sing-along events with on-screen lyrics, in case your 7-year-old momentarily forgets the words to “Let It Go” (As if). And every Tuesday at 10 a.m. is Tiny Tot Tuesday, featuring films that are screened with the lights turned up a bit and the volume turned down. Guests are welcome to bring their shakes and banana splits from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop next door.

Vintage Postcard, Grauman's Egyptian Theatre

Grauman's Egyptian Theatre

In 1922, a few weeks before King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered, the Egyptian Theatre was opened by Charles E. Toberman and Sid Grauman, who would later go on to open Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was a prescient design choice - the world soon went mad for all things Egyptian and several other Egyptian-themed theaters soon opened across the country. The original Egyptian, the first big movie house on Hollywood Boulevard, underwent an extensive $13-million rehabilitation in 1998. It’s worth going to see the sunburst ceiling alone. Currently operated by American Cinematheque, the Egyptian screens a wonderful range of fare, from classics like Lawrence of Arabia to contemporary independent and foreign films. Bonus: frequent post-screening presentations by filmmakers and talent. The annual Beyond Fest, an orgy of horror in the fall, and the Noir City festival in the spring, are always big draws.

Universal Cinema at CityWalk Hollywood | Photo: Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Cinema - Universal CityWalk Hollywood

In December 2016, Universal CityWalk Hollywood unveiled a multi-million dollar renovation of its AMC Theatre to create an all-new, state-of-the-art Universal Cinema. The grand opening was timed to the holidays so moviegoers could experience the opening of blockbusters like Rogue One: A Stars Wars Story. If you've ever wanted to sit in a Hollywood screening room, Universal Cinema offers the next best thing with reserved seating in deluxe power-recliner chairs. Film buffs will geek out at the amenities: all 18 auditoriums feature Christie RGB Laser projection, Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound and Christie Vive speakers, and perforated screens to enable 360 degree audio. The seven-story IMAX theatre features next-generation 4K laser projection and a 12-channel sound system for the ultimate movie experience. The new Director’s Lounge Cocktail Bar is great for pre- or post-movie hangouts. Best of all, drinks served at the Lounge can be taken into the second level theatres.

iPic | Photo: iPic

iPic Theaters - Pasadena

iPic fans are a pretty loyal bunch. And what’s not to like: fully reclining leather seats, free popcorn, and a full menu of food and cocktails from Sherry Yard, delivered in-theatre by black-clad ninja servers. Sure, you’ll pay a bit extra for these perks. But when the only "complaints" are something like "the seats are too comfortable and I fell asleep," it’s safe to say you’re onto something good. The Pasadena location features six auditoriums, all exclusively with Premium Plus seating. If you’re feeling a bit chilly, there’s a complimentary blanket. Note some shows do sell out well in advance, so it’s worth planning ahead. Also, consider becoming a member. There are some swell perks, like exclusive member events and points programs. Membership ranges from the free Purple level to Platinum.