Merced Theatre

301 West Main Street,
Merced, CA 95340

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Merced Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Golden State Theater & Realty Corp., T & D Jr. Enterprises, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: James Reid, Merritt Reid

Firms: Reid Brothers

Functions: Community Arts Center, Movies (Classic), Movies (Revival)

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Colonial

Previous Names: Elite Theatre, Strand Theatre, Rio Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 209.381.0500

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News About This Theater

Merced Theatre

The Elite Theatre was opened in 1914. It was later renamed Strand Theatre, then Rio Theatre. By 1926 it was operated by T & D Jr. Enterprises as the Merced Theatre. It was remodeled by the Reid Bros. architectural firm in 1930 by Golden State Theatres, a dominant circuit in Central and Northern California. It re-opened on October 31, 1931 with Joe E. Brown in “Local Boy Makes Good”.

It became part of United Artists Theatres in the mid-1970’s and by the mid-1980’s, the original 1,658-seat auditorium had become four screens.

The Merced Theatre closed in the Spring of 2002 because of competition from a new stadium theatre which opened a block away. In July of 2002, the city of Merced approved the purchase of this theatre for $700,000, half the $1.4 million asking price. According to the Merced Sun-Star it will be managed by the Merced Theatre Foundation, a non-profit agency, renovation work would take at least 3 years and up to $3 million to complete. The theatre is to operate as a community theatre, and it also has street-level shops and upper-level apartments.

Only 300 seats were being used in what was screen 2, but this operation closed in 2009. By 2012, the entire theatre has re-opened as a single auditorium known as the Art Kamanger Center at the Merced Theatre.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

tomdelay on October 3, 2007 at 9:00 pm

BTW, in case you have not seen it:

William on August 11, 2008 at 10:58 am

The Merced Theatre opened on Saturday, October 31, 1931 by Golden State and Realty Company.

jerryellis on December 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

My parents operated a department store on 17th and K in Merced. As I recall there was a small theatre, The Rio, located on 16th near K, which showed mostly Spanish speaking movies. This was in the late 40s and 50s.

ajtarantex on October 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

The Theater is completely restored and is open now

Mikeyisirish on December 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

A few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

DavidZornig on November 5, 2016 at 10:21 pm

1961 photo added courtesy of Keith Ensminger‎.

rivest266 on March 3, 2024 at 1:30 pm

Reopened with 4 screens on June 15th, 1979 and renamed UA Movies 4. Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266 on March 3, 2024 at 2:02 pm

Closed December 24th, 1994, when the ceiling caved in on the lower level. It reopened on July 20th, 1995. Another ad posted.

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