Kim Sing Theatre

722 N. Figueroa Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Additional Info

Functions: Housing

Previous Names: Alpine Theatre, Carmen Theatre

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Kim Sing Theatre

Originally known as the Alpine Theatre, it was opened prior to 1926, this theatre was one block north of Sunset Boulevard. It was a very small theatre, and was renamed Carmen Theatre on April 10, 1941. It was last known as the Kim Sing Theatre and showed Chinese films. It is now closed and converted into housing.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Open on 9/15/74 – features were “Kung-Fu Savage” and “Golden Swallow”.

Patsy on June 14, 2007 at 6:32 am

Alan V. Karr: Yes, I just saw the HGTV episode and it was quite interesting. The recent broadcast I watched was June 13.

WHong on August 11, 2007 at 1:50 am

Hi Jen Hofer. The Kim Sing used to show Hong Kong movies. I very much remember the Kim sing especially because of growing up in Chinatown. Surprisingly though, I only barely remember seeing a movie there only once. Based on what i remember, there was a lot of cigarette smoke in the auditorium. For some reason, a lot of the people in the audience wanted to smoke during the HK movie.

In a February ‘79 back issue of the L.A. Times, the movie lisings said that the Kim sing was showing “5 Venoms” and another HK movie. “5V” is AKA “5 Deadly Venoms” and is a Shaw Brothers kung fu movie and maybe also a favorite of Quentin Tarantino. So it looks like The Kim sing used to show the Shaw brothers movies.

I have a lot more memories of the CinemaLand/Royal Pagoda Theatre. The CL/RP Theatre is also in Chinatown, and I remember seeing all of Bruce Lee’s movies there, except for “Game of Death”. Those were the uncut Chinese language versions of Bruce’s movies being shown back then.

Also, based on the post from 6/8/07, I wonder why would the Kim Sing show “GS” in 1974 if “GS” is a 1968 Hong Kong movie?

kencmcintyre on August 14, 2007 at 10:27 pm

Listed as the Alpine in the 1938 city directory. Address was 834 Alpine.

robboehm on June 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Again the subject of a recent HGTV episode of “You Live in What?” Current owner uses it as a home, office and showroom for his clothing and furniture lines. He said it was built in 1926. Interior is now on three levels. The inclined main floor is now level. He retained three of the outer walls and removed the third installing the new one further under the roof with a row of windows overlookeing a courtyard.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 7, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I’m sure this is the same house that was listed as the Alpine Theatre, 834 Alpine Street, in the Moving Picture Theatres section of the 1926 city directory, and at 826 Alpine Street in the 1929 city directory. It’s back at 834 Alpine in the 1936 and 1938 directories. In 1939, the Alpine Theatre is gone and the first listing for the Carmen Theatre at 722 N. Figueroa Street appears. No theaters are listed under any name at either address in the 1927 or 1932 directories.

The February 29, 1936, issue of Motion Picture Herald said that D. F. Lyon was reopening the Alpine Theatre in Los Angeles, which had been closed for some time. The place apparently closed and reopened multiple times. I remember seeing this theater in the early 1960s, but I can’t remember if it was open or closed, nor can I remember what name, if any, was on the marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2013 at 7:29 pm

This theater had a long history before the neighborhood became predominantly Chinese, and had no connection to Chinatown for its first few decades. In 1926, Chinatown was still a small enclave lying mostly east of Alameda Street where Union Station was later built, but extending west to Los Angeles Street at the Plaza. In the 1930s and 1940s, China City along North Spring and New High Streets and New Chinatown along North Broadway and North Hill Street were developed

Even as late as the beginning of the 1960s the neighborhood around this theater was predominantly Mexican American, but it had previously housed a mixture of various European ethnic groups. Ethnic Chinese became the dominant group in the neighborhood after immigration restrictions were relaxed in 1965, and the Asian American population of California began to expand rapidly for the first time since the 19th century.

As the Alpine Theatre and Carmen Theatre, this house was always listed in the moving picture theaters section of the city directories. It had no fly tower, so any live performances would have been limited in scope. Many neighborhood theaters did have small stages suitable for occasional live performances, and this theater probably had one, but I’m sure that vaudeville was never a regular feature of the house. It was a neighborhood movie house, like hundreds of others throughout the city.

rivest266 on September 27, 2019 at 2:08 pm

1st LA Times listing as Carmen appeared on April 10th, 1941.

DavidZornig on June 6, 2020 at 4:55 am

The Carmen Theatre was the site of the first victims in the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.

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