Cinema Theatre

1251 Washington Avenue,
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: ABC Florida State Theatres, Brandt Theaters, Paramount Pictures Inc.

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Functions: Nightclub

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: French Casino

Nearby Theaters

Former Cinema Theatre Miami Beach

This nifty theatre which was built in 1934 begin life as a nightclub and later converted to motion pictures on November 17, 1937 when it was renamed Cinema Casino with the World Premiere of “Voice of India” plus vaudeville on the stage. It was run by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary S.A. Lynch. Later operated by the Florida State Theatres chain. The rear lobby (which was surrounded by a large mural) had comfortable chairs and sofas to sit in while waiting for the show to begin. Much of the auditorium was decorated in reds.

In the 1950’s the theatre played double features, even second run or B first run (e.g. “Andy Hardy Comes Home”, “Bride of the Gorilla”.) For a while it became a $1 theatre mostly running double feature MGM 1950’s film. Eventually the theatre changed hands several times. I believe Brandt ran it for a while. It became a revival house for a while but was not successful and that area of South Beach had declined badly and the theatre shuttered in 1977.

Incredibly, the owners decided to demolish the lobby (even though preserverationists tried to stop this) and convert it into three plain wrap stores. The stores were never rented. In 1983 the preservervationists stepped in and the stores were ripped out and efforts were made to restore the lobby to original grandeur. In 1983 it again became a nightclub but has changed hands many times.

As a child this became one of my favorite Miami Beach movie theatres, along with the fabulous Carib Theatre and Beach Theatre on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

Contributed by Bob

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 2, 2007 at 7:07 am

According to MARQUEE, vol.30, its nightclub names included, Club Z, Club 1235, Deco’s, Club passion, Paragon and Glam Slam.e

The deco lobby was destroyed in 1979, then rebuilt somewhat in 1983 .

miamiguy on December 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Here’s a photo that shows the Cinema Theatre in Miami Beach in approximately 1970 when it still had its original lobby entrance.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 27, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Nice find miamiguy!

I remember when it ran Yiddish Vaudeville that it always ran one feature film along with it, often also in Yiddish. What a great service this was to the many Jewish senior citizens who lived in the area, many of whom were holocaust survivors and spoke little or no English.

Bway on February 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Can you still tell it was a theater on the inside?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Nice interior shots of this theatre during its early heyday as a classy nightclub can be seen in the final scenes of the Lucille Ball- Henry Fonda 1942 film “The Big Street”. Although it looks like a fake art-deco set, it is actually the Cinema Casino.

aeterna on December 21, 2015 at 9:58 pm

A shot of the Cinema just months prior to its closure in ‘77:

aeterna on January 14, 2016 at 10:39 am

A color shot of the interior I believe just a few years prior to being gutted for Club Z/Club 1235. Some of the balcony Art Deco/elements were retained for the then new club.

aeterna on September 13, 2017 at 8:16 am

A larger and higher quality/detailed version of the photo miamiguy supplied via the miamiheritage website:

rivest266 on January 25, 2020 at 11:33 am

The Cinema Casino opened on November 17th, 1937. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

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