The Aero Theatre has been part of the Santa Monica landscape for the past 70 years, and for the last five years the theatre has been part of American Cinematheque.
A screening of Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Junior and a reception was held on January 6 to celebrate these milestones. American Cinematheque’s Director of Publicity and Marketing Margot Gerber told the Mirror Sherlock Junior was chosen because “Keaton is a favorite classic silent star (and an audience favorite) and the theme of the film was movies.”
The Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition presented American Cinematheque a certificate during the celebration. The certificate stated:
“The Aero Theatre exemplifies the best practices in presenting the cinematic arts at the community level. Through its eclectic choices of film genres and by providing insightful, enlightening dialogue between filmmakers and movie patrons, the Aero Theatre continues its long tradition of bringing excitement and expanded moviegoer appreciation to our area.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors and Members of the Wilmont community, we wish the Aero Theatre continued success and look forward to many years of movie magic as you continue on the path to exalting film-making and its positive contributions to the lives of our residents.”
According to the Cinema Treasures’ website, the Aero was built by the Donald Douglas Company in 1939 and “was originally opened as a continuous 24-hour movie theater for aircraft workers who worked in shifts around the clock.” Actor/Director Robert Redford was supposed to take over the theatre with his ill-fated Sundance Cinemas project but pulled out and the Aero closed in 2003.
The Aero began a new life in 2005 after American Cinematheque reopened it. They were able to update the theatre with funds from Max Palevsky. The $1 million restoration included a new screen, sound and projection equipment, a new concession stand, and reduced its seating from nearly 600 to 425.
American Cinematheque is a Los Angeles-based independent, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to presenting all different kinds of cinema, video and television. They also provide a forum for filmmakers, actors, writers, editors, cinematographers, and others to discuss their work with filmgoers, provide a high profile exhibition facility for other independent film and video organizations, and encourage and support new talent by creating a showcase for their work. They were created in 1981 and are led by a board of sirectors, board of trustees, and other organizational committees.
According to Gerber, American Cinematheque currently has about 2,100 members. Gerber also noted that since it is a nonprofit, membership fees and movie ticket and consession revenues are put “back into the day-to-day running of the theaters.”
The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood is also operated by the American Cinematheque program.
Contact Hannah Heineman