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The Warner Grand Theatre

Sep 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Movie Locations


This past Saturday, my family and I returned from Catalina Island via the Catalina Express high speed catamaran that docks in San Pedro Harbor.  When the captain announced that we had finally reached our destination, I suddenly realized that a filming location I have LONG been dying to stalk was actually located in the very city where we now found ourselves!  The Warner Grand Theatre, where Rosalee Futch took Tad Hamilton on a date in fave movie Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, was in fact located just a few miles away from where our boat had just docked.  🙂  I have absolutely no idea why I hadn’t realized it sooner.  So, I begged my dad to drive me over to the theatre as soon as we gathered our luggage and, amazingly enough, he obliged.   Thank you, dad!


Warner Brothers first opened the Warner Grand Theatre on January 20, 1931.  It was co-designed in an Art Deco style by architect B. Marcus Priteca, who also constructed the Pantages Theatre, and interior designer Anthony Heinsbergen.  Priteca and Heinsbergen had also created two other theatres for the Warner Brothers Company – one in Beverly Hills and one in Huntington Park.  Unfortunately, though, the Warner Grand is the only one of the three that is still intact.  In 1982, the City of Los Angeles declared the 1,400 seat theatre a Cultural and Historic Monument.  Sadly, though, in the 1990’s it fell into a serious state of disarray and was almost demolished.  The theatre was saved in January of 1996 when the City of Los Angeles stepped in and purchased it for $1.2 million and began a slow, painstaking restoration process.  It has since been named a National Historic Place.  The Grand is currently open for business, showing foreign and independent films on its fifty foot screen almost every weekend and showcasing various events including concerts, plays, and even graduations.  And it is also a frequent filming location!  🙂



The Warner Grand actually shows up three times in Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, where it stands in for the local Fraziers Bottom, West Virginia movie theatre.  The movie’s very first scene takes place at the theatre, in which Rosalee, Pete, and Cathy watch Tad’s latest film entitled A Man Called Jackson.




Later on in the movie, Rosalee takes Tad to the Warner Grand for their second date.


It is at the theatre that one of my favorite lines from the movie is spoken.  In the scene, while walking by a poster for one of Tad’s movies, Rosalee says “You look so sad there”, to which Tad replies “Give me a break.  I just lost my wife . . . and my goat.”  LOL LOL LOL  




The theatre last shows up in what was to be the movie’s original ending, which is shown in the DVD’s Special Features section.  In the scene, Pete, Cathy, Rosalee, and Rosalee’s father are at the Warner watching A Good Man is Hard to Find, Tad’s latest movie which tells the story of his relationship with Rosalee.





The Warner has also been featured in countless other productions.  In the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, the Warner Grand was the Oahu theatre where Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett watched the MovieTone News clip about the war. 




Later on in the scene, they grab a bite to eat at the “Black Cat Diner”, which is located directly next door to the theatre and which, in reality, is an art gallery named the Findings Art Center.   Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any photos of the Black Cat location as I didn’t learn about its use in Pearl Harbor until after I got home and started researching the theatre.  🙁



In the same scene, while Kate and Josh are eating inside the Black Cat Diner, their friend Ray proposes to his girlfriend Betty on the street outside the Warner Grand. 





In the Season One episode of The O.C. entitled “The Proposal”, the Warner stood in for the Newport Beach theatre where Ryan, Seth, and Summer took Marisa to cheer her up after she had discovered that her ex-boyfriend, Luke, was sleeping with her mother.  Nice mom, huh?


After seeing the movie, the gang heads over to a Jamba Juice located in the Arcade Building on Sixth Street directly across the street from the theatre, where they run into – you guessed it – Marisa’s mother and ex-boyfriend, Luke. 


Because my parents were not too keen on waiting around while I stalked all of West 6th Street, I didn’t get to venture inside the Arcade Building. But I did manage to snap the above pic from across the street.


The Warner has also been featured in the television series Cousin Skeeter, 7th Heaven, Melrose Place, Party of Five, and ESPN’s Reel Classics, and the movies Wharf Rats to Lords of the Dock, Worth Winning, Seabiscuit, Ghosts of Mississippi, Invasion Earth: The Aliens are Here,  and What’s Love Got To Do With It  (where it stood in for Harlem’s Apollo Theatre).


The Warner is an absolutely beautiful place and I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally be stalking it!  Sadly, though, the lobby area wasn’t open while we were there, so I didn’t get to venture inside.  But you know what that means!  I’ll just have to go back to stalk the place again!  🙂  According to the Warner’s website, though, the theatre’s original seats were just recently restored, so the interior looks quite different now than how it appeared in the many movies pictured above.  🙁

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Warner Grand Theatre is located at 478 West 6th Street in San Pedro.  You can visit their website here.   The Black Cat Diner from Pearl Harbor, aka the Findings Art Center, is located at 470 West Sixth Street, next door to the Warner.  The Arcade Building on Sixth Street, which was featured in The O.C., is located at 479 West Sixth Street, directly across the street from the theatre. 


One comment

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  1. Raul Moreno says:

    This place is amazing!! Each October they show classic horror movies and for the holidays they will show “It’s a Wonderful Life”,among others.During the first season of American Dreams,this location was used in a few episodes as was all of 6th Street.And I live a long fly ball away from it so I know that area well,too!

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