Vision Theatre

3341 W. 43rd Place,
Los Angeles, CA 90008

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Vision Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres

Architects: Stiles O. Clements, Octavius W. Morgan, John A. Walls

Firms: Morgan, Walls, and Clements

Styles: Art Deco, Spanish Renaissance

Previous Names: Leimert Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 323.291.7321

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News About This Theater

Vision Theatre

A large neighborhood movie palace, this 1931 Spanish-tinged Deco wonder has retained its importance to the community for over 80 years since it first opened as the Leimert Theatre on April 21, 1932. It was built by multi-millionaire Howard Hughes as a showcase theatre for premieres. It became a neighbourhood movie theatre soon after opening and was operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. Designed in a classic southern California streamlined Spanish Colonial style, the tall steel frame on top of the lower stucco clad tower originally had the theatres' name on it, and is a landmark for the area.

After showing first run films for decades it was closed in 1968 with Warren Beatty in “Bonnie and Clyde”. The theatre was renamed the Watchtower in the 1970’s, when the Leimert Theatre was converted into a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.

Actress Marla Gibbs purchased the theatre in 1990 and renamed it the Vision Theatre.

The theatre fell on hard times after the 1992 riots and the economic recession which hit this area of Los Angeles. The bank foreclosed on the property in 1997 and the city took it over.

The theatre was later converted into a performing arts center and participates each year in the Pan African Film Festival.

The Leimert Theatre was used as a location for the movie “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate” starring Martin Lawrence.

The Vision Theatre completed a $11 million renovation in 2012. In April 2018 it was closed for renovations and plans to reopen in 2021. In the early-morning of April 21, 2020 the theatre suffered damage from a fire wich destroyed an adjacent derelict building.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 51 comments)

DonSolosan on March 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for the info. I’ve seen that photo before, but couldn’t tell if that was the fountain or not. We even searched the walls looking for evidence of pipes, etc.

And I agree that it would be nice if they get this place restored. The plans that they presented at our event were very ambitious. For one thing, they talked about building a new floor in the auditorium so they would have stadium seating — but they would preserve the original walls.

Art1956 on August 12, 2013 at 2:08 am

I don’t understand why it’s listed as the Vision Theatre. For the 40 or so years it was a movie theatre it was called the Leimert.

DonSolosan on August 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

Art1956, because Vision is the most recent name of the theatre. Leimert is listed as a previous name.

DonSolosan on November 27, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Recently, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation toured the Vision/Leimert theatre following the successful completion of stage 1 of its restoration. If you missed it, you can get an Insiders Peek here:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

People keep asking about the drinking fountain in the lobby Of the Leimert Theatre, and a couple of members have linked to a photo of the lobby with the drinking fountain at left. Unfortunately they have linked to the copy at the California State Library, which is an unstable site that doesn’t offer anything like a permalink, so the links are dead.

Fortunately, the more reliable web site of the Los Angeles Public Library also has a copy of the photo, so I think that link should stay alive. Unfortunately, the LAPL’s scan is a bit dark and the background detail gets lost, but the fountain is visible, if a bit too contrasty. It’s probably the best we can do for now, though.

People have also been asking if the drinking fountain is still there. Sadly, judging from this photo by Bill Counter, dated 2010, the fountain is gone.

Both of those photos are featured on the Leimert / Vision Theatre page of Bill Counter’s excellent web site More Los Angeles Movie Palaces which, along with his sites for downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Wilshire district theaters (all linked from that page) is the most extensive single online resource for information about historic Southern California movie theaters. The Leimert page has dozens of photos, both vintage and recent, and is well worth a visit for anyone interested in this venerable suburban survivor.

Lands on December 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Thank you Joe and Don for your updates. I must say I’m shocked to see that the renovation has actually moved forward. I checked on and off after my post 3 years ago (wow) and would only find the original announcement.

It’s very nice to see that they seem to be restoring more that they are trying to update. It’s got some wonderful art deco in it.

The water from that fountain was COLD, as was the soft serve ice cream that was sold out of the booth next to it. If you look on Google maps, you’ll see a building across the street from the parking lot behind the theater. Looks like a cultural center now. Back then it was the cafeteria for the church and also had baptism pools.

I hope it all stays on track. Take care.

Lands on June 22, 2017 at 1:12 am

When I returned after 3 year in 2013, I was surprised that the renovation was moving forward. Now 3 ½ years later I return and can find little on what’s happened since then.

The Vision Theater website isn’t around anymore, and there aren’t any recent updates in the news. I’m saddened but not surprised the way government generally handles things. I hope they ditched the idea of creating 3 levels inside, and just restore it to it’s former glory.

Maybe I’m wrong and they have progressed since “stage 1,” but I doubt it. Please tell me if I’m wrong. :–(

While looking around I did find pictures of the side space that we would walk along when exiting to go to lunch during the Jehovah Witness conventions – the hand rails still there (not sure why I still remember that).

They are from this wonderful article:

It’s funny how some places and things still with you. I remember how the seats often squeaked. As discussed previously, I remember how cold the water was from the front “magic” fountain. I remember how glorious the tall side walls were. And the very cool handrails inside the main room that you’d always seem to shock yourself on (maybe the rug was so plush then?).

Hope someday it’s back to it’s old glory.

DavidZornig on May 10, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Closing for renovations until 2021.

TJinSF on April 21, 2020 at 2:49 pm

This theatre, still under renovation, suffered “significant damage” in a fire early this morning, possibly related to a nearby homeless encampment.

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