The LA Conservancy is offering a unique opportunity for the public to escape the heat and reality this summer. The grand movie palaces of Downtown LA are set to air a series of movies throughout the summer. These historic theaters, typically off-limits to the public, will be exclusively open for special film screenings.

The LA Conservancy has established this exciting summer program to keep the history of film alive. For over 30 years, the non-profit organization has been committed to preserving the cultural and historical sites of the beautiful city of Los Angeles. In 1987, they established a program called Last Remaining Seats in order to showcase the grand movie palaces of Los Angeles.  Sarah Lann, who is the Director of Education at the conservancy, stated that the program started to revitalize Downtown Los Angeles during the economic challenges the city faced in the 1970s and ’80s

This year, the screenings will be held in three iconic theaters downtown: the Palace, the Orpheum, and the Los Angeles Theatre. Each of these theaters has a rich history. What’s more, they offer more than just a viewing experience. They offer visitors the opportunity to step back in time.

The Palace Theatre, described by Lann as a “jewel box” on Broadway, is the oldest of the three theaters. It was built in 1911 originally for vaudeville shows. Despite being smaller than the other theaters, it offers intimacy and extravagance with its detailed murals and ornate decorations that remind people of a Faberge egg.

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The Orpheum Theatre is the “big sister” to the Palace. It was built in 1926 and boasts a Wurlitzer organ. The organ will be played live during some film screenings, accentuating the vintage film experience. The Orpheum has also appeared in various films and TV shows, making it a familiar location for individuals who have never stepped inside.

The Los Angeles Theatre, the last of the grand movie palaces, was built on Broadway in 1931. It quickly faced financial difficulties during the Great Depression but eventually opened with Charlie Chaplin’s film City Lights. Not only was Chaplin at the premiere, but Albert Einstein was too! The theater is extravagantly designed and partially inspired by Versailles.

The film lineup for this year is as exciting and iconic as the venues. Opening night on June 1 will feature the classic comedy The Seven Year Itch and a unique celebration of Marilyn Monroe’s birthday. Other screenings include timeless favorites like Bullit, Gaslight, and From Russia With Love. A special screening of Mi Vida Loca, commemorating its 30th anniversary, will consist of the director’s and cast members’ appearances. This film tells the gripping true story of women surviving gang life in Echo Park.

Lann notes how these venues remind us of a time when public spaces were breathtakingly beautiful and accessible to everyone for just a few cents. She hopes that the “Last Remaining Seats” program will reintroduce people to these architectural masterpieces, which, according to her, are the “best kept secrets” of the city.

Their website provides information about volunteering and membership for those interested in getting involved with the Los Angeles Conservancy or the film series. Whether you’re a film buff, a history enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique way to cool off this summer, these movie screenings offer an unforgettable experience in some of the most stunning settings Los Angeles has.