iPic Westwood

10840 Wilshire Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90024

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Showing 251 - 275 of 280 comments

MediaChristian on May 29, 2006 at 10:08 am

I atarted working at General Cinema’s AVCO Center in the summer of 1986. I was attending the freshman orientation at UCLA at the time, staying on campus. Peter Bobela was my first manager, always reminded me of Bill Daniels from “Knight Rider” and “St Elsewhere”. I had attended the third day (first weekend) of “Return of the Jedi” and was amazed at the THX sound. I felt like I was in the Ewok garden.

Anyway, the first blockbuster that I worked was “Aliens”. Talk about a cash cow! That show did business for weeks. I remember getting out of there at 4am after the Fri/Sat late shows, then riding my bicycle up the hill to the dorm. Other blockbusters I experienced there include “"Die Hard”, “Stakeout”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Dirty Dancing”, “Big”, “Ruthless People”, and others.

Talk about a star magnet – the AVCO was certainly that. We would always have premieres there. I remember Penny Marshall at the “Big” premiere, Susanna Hoffs (when the Bangles were popular) for her stupid movie, “The Allnighter”. Glenn Close was pregnant when I saw her there. Christopher Reeve stopped by, Sonny Landham (“Predator”, “48 Hrs”, “Action Jackson”), many of the Lakers (Riley, Magic, Byron Scott), Angela Lansbury, Gene Wilder and wife Gilda Radner (not long before she died). It was hard not to be wild-eyed, as a teenager.

I was there for three years, before I decided that it was time to make some real money. The last time I was there to see a movie was in 1988, when Sigourney Weaver’s “Gorrillas in the Mist” was there. They had some jerk manager there that fancied himself as the black equivalent of Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island (I am black, and I don’t like the term “African American”…but I digress). It was some kind of experience, working there. Strange, that it has been 20 years since I started there. I’ll always remember it as the one large downstairs theater (and how long it took to clean it!)

Memories…like the corners of my mind…

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 24, 2006 at 9:36 am

I only made it to the pre-split main auditorium at Avco Center once for a matinee show of “Sleeping With The Enemy” in 1991. That was a HUGE auditorium and I remember the THX trailer being loud and booming. Later on, after the split, I saw a (PATHETIC!) 70MM presentation of Vertigo in about 1997 or so. To say that some “mojo” was missing would be the understatement of the century! I haven’t been back since.

William on April 8, 2006 at 8:36 am

The Avco Center complex opened on May 24th, 1972. The opening attractions were “Play It Again Sam”, “Arruza” and “The Possession of Joel Delaney”.

William on April 8, 2006 at 8:22 am

The Avco Center complex opened on May 24th, 1972 with “Play It Again Sam”, “Arruza”, “The Possession of Joel Delaney”.

William on April 8, 2006 at 8:22 am

The Avco Center complex opened on May 24th, 1972 with “Play It Again Sam”, “Arruza”, “The Possession of Joel Delaney”.

William on January 17, 2006 at 8:46 am

The funny thing about the sound in the former main house. Was that the theatre did not have the power that those Mann Theatres listed in the above comment have. During those days of turning up the THX logo during the opening of the feature presentation, met with a few problems for the theatre. The manager at the time wanted to show that the Avco #1 was just as powerful as the others. But the theatre blew out 3 full sets of surround speakers in that house. That the company that GCC used to service the theatre’s projection equipment would not cover anymore blown speakers, in the race to hear who’s THX is bigger. The two upstairs theatres were the right size that could make a profit for them and the theatre was govern by the area parking to seat ratio in city zoning.

markinthedark on October 27, 2005 at 2:23 pm

Why couldn’t they have split one of the upper theatres. Such a shame…

kbp619 on October 27, 2005 at 2:20 pm

Wow, I’ve seen SO many movies here, especially in the main bottom theatre (before they cut it in half which totally blew). The sound in the main theatre was insane, as good if not better than the National, Village, or Chinese.

kencmcintyre on August 26, 2005 at 3:16 pm

Nobody has mentioned the fact that you can go to a movie at the Avco and then walk around the block and see a lot of dead stars at the Westwood Memorial cemetery, including Marilyn Monroe, of course. Also Natalie Wood, Richard Conte (who has a question mark after the date of death on his tombstone) and Heather O'Rourke, the little girl from Poltergeist. I think Dominique Dunne is there too, to complete the Poltergeist connection.

Coate on June 29, 2005 at 9:21 pm

The Avco was among the handful of theaters that was equipped with Cinema Digital Sound (CDS), the 1990-1991 precursor to the contemporary digital sound formats.

Coate on June 19, 2005 at 5:17 am

The Avco was among the theatres included in the original limited-market launch of “Star Wars.” The Avco’s 5/25/77 opening-day gross, according to Daily Variety, was a house record $12,816.

meheuck on May 27, 2005 at 7:45 pm

Some fleeting research says that Avco was initially some sort of aviation science/manufacturing concern (AV – aviation, CO – company, something like that) that broadened their reach into financial interests like insurance and credit, and then of course the decade or so they operated Avco Embassy Pictures and the radio/TV production bloc that included the mighty WLW in Cincinnati. The TV stations were sold to Multimedia, who also took over production of then-locally produced syndicated shows like PHIL DONAHUE, SALLY JESSY RAPHAEL and JERRY SPRINGER. The radio stations were spun off into a local company called Jacor, which of course now has become the ginormous Clear Channel company.
Urban legend has it that while they were essentially a hands-off corporate parent, Avco may have had a hand in the initial failure of the controversial political satire WINTER KILLS, since its plot involved the ever-popular “military-industrial complex” and Avco would have had fat government contracts for jet technology.

Knatcal on May 27, 2005 at 5:00 pm

In the 1980s Westwood was the place to go see movies. Even for someone living, like myself, in the San Fernando Valley. The Avco supplemented the theaters in Westwood Village. It was a short walk down Wilshire Boulevard to the Avco from Westwood Village but it still always managed to be busy. I remember seeing “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988 at the Avco and it was extremely crowded. The line for the film stretched down Wilshire Boulevard. However by the 1990s the massive crowds that had flocked to Westwood for the movies had gone elsewhere.

markinthedark on May 5, 2005 at 9:44 am

Do any pictures exist of the Avco’s big screen before it was split?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 11, 2005 at 4:24 am

In the 1960s and 70s, AVCO owned Cincinnati’s WLW radio and a regional network of Ohio and Indiana TV stations, all of whose call letters began with WLW.

dave-bronx™ on April 10, 2005 at 10:50 pm

The AVCO Company (I used to know what AVCO meant, but I have forgotten) was some kind of conglomerate and owned that finance company, among other things. Around the late 60s they bought Embassy Pictures, so there was a loose connection between the name of the property and the film operation.

timquan on April 10, 2005 at 6:28 pm

For John, did you manage the theatre when the first three ‘Star Wars’ films played?

ruedgy on April 3, 2005 at 9:51 am

I was an assistant manager of the Avco Center Cinemas in Westwood when it opened in May of 1972. I was promoted from Assistant Manager of the Crest in Westwood. Our opening attractions were “PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM” from Paramount, the Shirley MacLaine film THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY from Paramount and ARUZA from Avco Embassy – film on the life of bullfighter Aruza. Soon after opening, our first change was BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE with Goldie Hawn. Our seating capacities were #1 at 1124, #2 at 424 and #3 at 714. I have many great memories and many many stories to tell from my days at the Avco.

BradE41 on October 19, 2004 at 3:37 pm

It was named the AVCO Not because of AVCO Embassy films but because it shared the same area with AVCO Finance, which is now something else.

BradE41 on October 19, 2004 at 3:35 pm

General Cinema ruined the Theatre when they split the Largest theatre into 2 smaller screens. The AVCO was on of L.A. Countys prime theatres. They should many exclusive films like most theatres in Westwood did in the 1970’s. It was a very well designed theatre for its time and along with the Village, Bruin, and National were the most popular theatres in Westwood.

mattepntr on October 11, 2004 at 1:25 am

I haven’t been to the Avco in many years. Sorry to hear the main auditorium was split up. I saw “Return of the Jedi” in ‘83, when they ran the very first THX trailer. The interior layout of this place was always a liitle confusing. They would line people up and let them in via the side doors or something. You went down these halls and climbed stairs (or downstairs, don’t remember) but in a large crowd I always felt in danger of getting lost in there! They always put on a great show, though! “Die Hard” and “The Abyss” were state of the art presentation.

William on August 4, 2004 at 9:34 am

During that time they needed an extra screen to remain profitable in that market of Westwood.

MagicLantern on July 28, 2004 at 12:34 pm

The screen split is very noticeable – just a wall down the centre of auditoriums 1 and 2…

William on July 27, 2004 at 7:58 am

GCC had two other theatres that could be called Prestigious, they were the Paramount Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. & the Beverly Theatre on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. Both theatres were bought when Loew’s Theatres moved out of the California market.

dave-bronx™ on July 26, 2004 at 7:15 pm

The Avco was GCC’s west coast flagship in the 70s – when it was mentioned in internal company memoranda in regards to a premiere or other noteworthy events it was always referred to as “Our Prestigious Avco Center Cinema”.