1940s view of the Westwood Village building that has been home to the Regent Theatre. Courtesy: Steve Sann.
Westwood Village, once the place where big films opened in Los Angeles, is about to be down to just two remaining movie houses. The owner of the Landmark Regent Theatre on Broxton Avenue has filed plans with the city to convert the auditorium space into two restaurants, Los Angeles Magazine reports.
The Regent opened in 1966 as a Laemmle theatre, in a 1946 building that originally housed retail stores — including the Oakley Barber Shop, a Westwood Village fixture now located on Gayley Avenue. Laemmle ran it until Mann Theaters took over in the 1970s. Landmark began operating the Regent in 2002.
The Regent was where Woody Allen's popular films would run in the decades when Westwood Village was a destination district for nightlife. The Festival, Plaza, National, Mann 4, and UA Westwood have all disappeared from Westwood Village since the 1980s, when the crowds stopped going to Westwood due to competition from parking-rich malls like Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, resistance from village merchants and fear of gang violence.
The closure of the Regent will leave only Westwood's two original 1930s movie palaces, the Fox Village and the Bruin, at the corner of Broxton and Weyburn avenues. They are gorgeous theaters but, frankly, they don't do a lot of business. Both are Regency theatres these days.
The only other nearby movie options are outside of Westwood Village proper. The iPic is in the former Avco Cinemas space on Wilshire Boulevard. The Crest (originally the Uclan) on Westwood Boulevard south of Wilshire no longer does new-release movie runs but schedules special events.
The makeover of the Broxton Avenue space where the Regent is located will be guided by Nadel Architects. Repurposing of space and storefronts is a Westwood Village tradition. For instance, the Peet's Coffee and 800 Degrees Pizzeria at Westwood Boulevard and Lindbrook Avenue are located in a former Ralphs grocery that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the home of a lot of different retail uses through the years. The former Ralphs space also includes the long-closed Festival cinema.
Just last week, the Los Angeles Conservancy announced it will give a 2017 Preservation Award to the restoration of an original 1930 Westwood Village gem, the Kinross Cornerstone Building at Gayley and Kinross avenues. The Spanish Colonial Revival building with Churrigueresque ornamentation was designed by legendary Los Angeles architect Stiles O. Clements, but its original beauty had been hidden by awnings and other modifications. The rehab was led by Nadel Architects, the same firm that will be involved with the Regent.
"The rehabilitation of the Kinross Cornerstone Building serves as an inspiration for other projects," the Conservancy says. "It proves that, with a bit of love and care, a building can survive to serve future generations.