Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Avenue,
Santa Monica, CA 90403

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Showing 1 - 25 of 63 comments

DavidZornig on February 3, 2023 at 2:22 pm

5 night February run of “Boogie Nights” in 70MM. First night World Premiere of first-ever 70MM print Sold Out.

dallasmovietheaters on June 13, 2021 at 7:25 pm

The Aero closed following the March 12, 2020 showings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 10, 2021, it officially reopened with a special advance screening of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In The Heights” on June 10, 2021.

CStefanic on April 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm

RogerA – In answer to your question, that WAS the same print that was screened last fall at “Beyond Fest”. The print itself is still stunning. What you probably heard about, was that the film grain isn’t as fine as it used to be – but that’s not the print – it’s the negative, or whatever source which the print was derived. That print was struck for AC specifically and all of us who are involved with AC stand by it.

RogerA on March 27, 2017 at 5:05 pm

A friend of mine went to see 2001 in 70mm on Friday. He told me that the print didn’t look new. It looked like an older print. Anyone know anything about this?

Flix70 on January 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Indiana Jones double bill at the Aero Saturday, Jan 21: “Raiders” & “Last Crusade.” Show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Marlon Martinez
Marlon Martinez on May 4, 2016 at 11:57 am

Robert Downey Jr. mentioned this theater on Howard Stern today. He said this is where he and Jon Favreau like to host screenings.

silver on March 11, 2016 at 11:30 pm

This American Cinematheque tweet has a photo from 1942, just 2 years after the Aero was built. Remarkably little has changed to the theatre’s exterior. Talk about a #tbt! Aero Theatre founder Donald Douglas & State Guard members in 1942 📷: Santa Monica History Museum

Ardith on September 1, 2013 at 3:40 am

Ahhh…The good old Aero where we kids used to sit scrunched down with our knees up against the seat in front, with an all day sucker watching the Saturday morning movies for 25 cents in 1952. And we have the dental fillings to prove it. Glad to see the joint is still there.

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on June 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Has been equipped with a 4K NEC projector with 3-D capability. Will run DCPs of the traditional classic fare all July…

Complete lowdown here

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 16, 2011 at 8:59 am

It was mentioned early on in the comments here that the exterior of the Aero is seen in the movie “Get Shorty.” In that film, the characters portrayed by John Travolta and Rene Russo are seen watching the end of Orson Welles' “Touch of Evil” in this theater. I don’t know if those interior shots were also filmed at the Aero, but a good deal of the auditorium decor can be seen.

Ross Care
Ross Care on October 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Director Paul Verhoeven at the screening of STARSHIP TROOPERS at the Aero:
View link

Ross Care
Ross Care on October 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Ken Russell & Richard Chamberlain at the Aero:
View link

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I’m not sure. They said this book was only available through Every Picture.
I was distracted by the original $4,500 Mary Blair when I was in the store!

DonSolosan on July 15, 2010 at 12:58 pm

If you’re talking about “An Animated Life,” that’s several years old, but was just released in paperback.

Ross Care
Ross Care on July 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

Just saw a gorgeous stereo Panavision print of FIRST MEN ON THE MOON at the Aero. I LOVE this theater and what the American Cinematheque is doing there! It’s also easier access than fighting the Hollywood & Highland traffic at the Egyption.

There was also an exhibit in conjunction with a new Ray Harryhausen book at Every Picture Tells A Story across the street.

Cliffs on July 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

It’s funny, but that May 2010 pic that monika just posted looks almost exactly like the 1981 pic posted on April 27, 09 by Lost Memory.

Ross Care
Ross Care on June 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Close up of the marquee:
View link

monika on June 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Here is a May 2010 daytime photograph:
View link

DonSolosan on May 8, 2010 at 1:18 am

The auditorium has been called the Max Palevsky auditorium for a couple of years now. What, did he leave them another pile of money?

Ross Care
Ross Care on May 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm

But will it fit on the marquee?
Just saw PETULIA and THE MUSIC LOVERS there on Saturday night. Richard Chamberlain also appeared to discuss the films.
MUSIC LOVERS was a gorgeous Panavision print!

William on May 6, 2010 at 7:54 pm

American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre will be renamed soon after the producer, philanthropist Max Palevsky. Who contributed to the refurbishment of the theatre back in 2005. Max Palevsky passed away Wednesday May 5th. at the age of 85.

Ross Care
Ross Care on March 29, 2010 at 7:11 pm

PS Actually the Kelly Retro was March 25-28.

Ross Care
Ross Care on March 29, 2010 at 6:51 pm

AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE Gene Kelly Retrospective, March 25-27, 2010
View link

kencmcintyre on December 13, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Here is part of a September 1988 article in the LA Times:

The neighborhood theater, with its low ticket prices and double features, appears to be going the way of newsreels and Flash Gordon serials. Revival houses and second-run theaters like the Fox Venice, the Criterion, the Rialto, the Vista, the Gordon and several others have closed their doors or changed their bookings to compete with places like the Cineplex Odeon theaters in Universal City.

But cheap tickets ($4) and double features still survive at the Aero Theater, a comfortable, mid-sized movie house located somewhat incongruously on Santa Monica’s trendy Montana Avenue. In an area where older businesses are razed every month, the Aero is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary. “Basically, we are a neighborhood theater, and the people nearby are the ones who have supported us over the years,” said Joe Domenico, who has owned the Aero since 1978. “Some people around here have been coming for decades.”

Aircraft magnate Donald Douglas Jr. built the Aero in 1939. It opened in 1940 and served the general public and workers from the Douglas Aircraft plant (near the present-day Santa Monica Airport). When World War II arrived and employees were working around the clock, Douglas kept the Aero showing movies at all hours, so workers on all shifts could enjoy “Abbott and Costellos, Gene Autrys, all of that,” Domenico said. “It was a great morale-booster.”

After the war the Aero continued as the only movie house in the north end of Santa Monica, Domenico said. As television took its toll on the movie industry in the 1950s and ‘60s, the Aero found ways to survive. Fridays became teen nights, and the Aero became a meeting place for Westside teen-agers looking for weekend recreation.

Today the major threat to the Aero comes from changing economic conditions on Montana Avenue. Rent in the tony shopping district is between $4 and $4.50 a square foot, said Alexis Scharff, chairman of the Montana Merchants Committee. Others put it nearer to $5. That’s up from $3.50 six years ago. The increase has led to single storefronts' being renovated, carved up and reopened as tiny boutiques. Older tenants, like the Sweet Sixteen Grill, a neighborhood fixture since 1942, have disappeared. The Aero is awfully tempting.

“The landlord, I’m sure, has been barraged by offers to sell the property,” Domenico said. “We have rumors start sometimes. A couple of years ago people were coming in here-some with tears in their eyes-asking if it was going to be knocked down, destroyed and rebuilt as something else. Some people were very emotional.”

The proliferation of multiple-screen theaters might also pose a threat to the Aero. There are only seven movie screens in Santa Monica, but there are to be 22 by 1990. The Mann and Cineplex corporations are building four-screen theaters on the soon-to-be-renovated 3rd Street mall, and AMC Theaters is putting in seven at the corner of Arizona Avenue and 3rd Street.

Can the Aero survive? Domenico isn’t sure, but he’s hopeful. “Well, we might not be able to get new movies as quickly then,” he said. “We might be the last stop before they go to video.” At present the theater is doing well, Domenico said. The changes on Montana Avenue have brought in new patrons, he said, and attendance has grown steadily for eight years. It’s especially good when the theater manages to book double bills of recent hits like last winter’s “Broadcast News” and “Wall Street.”

Andy Lerner, a Santa Monica Canyon resident, was there recently to see “Presidio” and “Big Business.” He found the Aero more comfortable, convenient and inexpensive than the theaters in Westwood and West Los Angeles. “It’s nice to go into a theater that has a small-town feel to it,” Lerner said. “And you don’t have to go to a shopping mall and fight your way past yogurt stands to see a movie.”

Small-town is the term that comes up most often when talking to Aero patrons. Hollywood location managers apparently agree: the Aero has been seen in movies like “From 10 to Midnight” and “Three on a Match.” Most recently it doubled as a Cape Cod movie house in the Meg Tilly-Rob Lowe picture “Masquerade.”

Although the projection and sound systems are contemporary, not much else has changed at the Aero since 1940. The white Streamline Moderne facade remains the same, as do the marquee, the terrazzo walkway, the light fixtures and even the seats. The popcorn maker dates back to the ‘50s, as does a kitschy serve-yourself ice cream case. Lumpy, comfortable sofas line the lobby. In one corner an antique soft- drink machine still stands, but it hasn’t worked for years. The company stopped making replacement parts for it years ago.

Although there’s not a theater anywhere that still charges 10 or 12 cents admission, ticket prices at the Aero are about as low as they come, especially for a double feature: General admission is $4, and children and the elderly pay $2. The price draws people from all over Los Angeles and helped earned the Aero the title of “Best Neighborhood Theater” in Los Angeles magazine.

Domenico laments the passing of what he calls “a sleepy little street,” but he says he’ll keep the Aero open as long as he can. “Who knows what will happen?” Domenico said, shrugging. “Venerable places like the Brown Derby have been knocked down. When I first got here, there were six or seven service stations on Montana. Now, apparently, the one next door is leaving, and we’ll have one left. "That’s progress. But it’s also a shame.”