Things to do in Santa Monica

Top Santa Monica Movie Theaters

Catch the latest blockbusters and independent films in the best Santa Monica movie theaters, drive-ins, retro cinemas, and outdoor showing venues.

Watching a movie in Hollywood’s backyard is a special experience, which is why it's one of our favorite things to do in Santa Monica. The right theater can make movies come alive on the screen, so it’s important to choose one that has what you’re looking for. These are some of the best spots to catch a film in the city.

Downtown Santa Monica

Downtown Santa Monica is a great place to catch a movie. It has a variety of mainstream and retro theaters showing a diverse range of films. Settle into a comfortable recliner and experience the joy of watching a work of art unfold on the big screen.

1. AMC Santa Monica 7

Catch the latest Hollywood blockbusters at AMC Santa Monica 7. This theater has AMC’s signature recliner seats, which are so comfy you'll feel yourself sinking into them. It's easy to drift off, so make sure you pick an exciting movie to keep you awake. Laser projection increases light and contrast, so you'll see every detail clearly with popping colors.

Attend before 4 p.m. to enjoy a 25% discount on your movie tickets. There's no better way to spend a rainy day than in a comfortable theater catching up with the latest blockbuster hits.

2. Laemmle's Monica Film Center

Laemmle's Monica Film Center on 2nd Street has been an integral part of Santa Monica’s arts community for 44 years. Originally known as the Monica Twin, it transformed into the Monica 4-Plex in 1981 and has now emerged anew after a complete rebuild.

The newly reimagined Monica Film Center boasts six state-of-the-art auditoriums, each equipped with digital projection, spacious and comfortable seating, and an intimate viewing atmosphere. The concession stand offers locally sourced craft beer and wine, a first for Laemmle theaters.

Seniors aged 62 and older get discounts for movies that start before 6 p.m. on weekdays, and students (with valid student IDs) get discount rates on Sunday evenings. Whenever you visit, this classic Santa Monica movie theater offers you a warm welcome.

3. AMC Broadway 4

At AMC Broadway 4 on 3rd Street Promenade, you can recline in style. Once you step inside the Art Deco building, you’ll find all kinds of modern technology, including fantastic screen and sound quality. The theater isn’t as big as its AMC Santa Monica 7 cousin, but it has a cozy atmosphere we adore.

If you love independent films, check out the AMC Artisan Film program. It features the best movies the indie film industry has to offer, giving them a showcase, so everyone has an opportunity to watch them.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by JK (@lewis_jk_lee)

4. The Aero Theatre

Aero Theatre has a fascinating history. The Douglas Aircraft Company built it during the company’s heyday. The theater, designed by R.M. Woolpert in a Streamline Moderne style, opened for the first time in 1940.

Since then, it’s undergone multiple renovations to keep it updated with the latest sound and projection technology. As a retro Santa Monica movie theater, The Aero Theatre only has a single screen, but it puts it to good use, showing contemporary independent cinema and classic films.

Every October, The Aero Theatre hosts a Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon. This event is your chance to stay up all night gorging on candy and watching half a dozen or more classic horror movies surrounded by other fans of the genre. It doesn't get much better than that!

Photographer: Daniele Levis Pelusi

Hollywood

Hollywood is synonymous with the hottest movies, so what better place to watch the latest blockbusters? Check out these North, South, East, and West Hollywood movie theaters showcasing the cutting edge of cinematic talent.

Why not grab breakfast in Santa Monica, check out some of the city’s fabulous museums, and head to Hollywood for a movie night to remember?

5. Laemmle's NoHo 7

Laemmle's NoHo 7 is an independent theater that opened in 2011 in the recently rejuvenated North Hollywood Arts District. The venue offers a top-tier cinematic experience, with rocker seats, stadium-style auditoriums, modern digital projection, and wall-to-wall screens.

The North Hollywood neighborhood is also full of great restaurants where you can grab some dinner before your movie.

6. Cinelounge Sunset

Cinelounge Sunset is an art house theater in Hollywood’s ultra-hip Vinyl District. It only has one auditorium, but boasts extremely comfortable leather seats. You can pick up artisan snacks from the concession stand, including gourmet popcorn in flavors such as Truffaut Truffle and Bourbon Caramel.

If you head to Sunset Boulevard, grab a light bite at The Terrace at Thompson Hollywood as a precursor to your buttery popcorn.

7. Egyptian Theatre

The Egyptian Theatre offers retro cinema at its finest, with special screenings of classic movies, sometimes with special introductions beforehand.

This place is a film buff’s paradise. You can watch movies while you peck at classic cinema snacks from the concession stand, and you can also browse the Netflix Store for merch from your favorite shows.

The Egyptian Theatre opened in 1922 and has been bringing movies to the masses for more than 100 years. As soon as you step inside, you can sense the echoes of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Today, the theater has been lovingly restored, but it remains one of the few theaters in the country that can still project old-fashioned nitrate film. Get back to cinema’s roots by paying the Egyptian Theatre a visit!

8. Rooftop Movies at The Montalbán

How do you feel about cinema under the stars? Rooftop movies at The Montalbán Theatre run throughout the summer. You can watch a movie while dining, playing games, and socializing with your friends at this unique rooftop venue.

The doors open at 6 p.m., and screenings start a few minutes after sundown. Get there early so you can settle into your comfortable deck chair with a pair of headphones.

9. Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Cinespia is a Los Angeles organization that hosts outdoor movie screenings 30 times a year. One of its most popular venues, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, is the final resting place of many Hollywood legends, including Judy Garland, Douglas Fairbanks, and Rudolph Valentino.

Bring a blanket, pack a picnic, and enjoy a movie with friends under the stars. Don't worry—you won't get bored while waiting. A DJ will play sets before and after the movie.

No hard alcohol is permitted on the premises, and dogs must be left at home. Keep in mind this is a rain-or-shine event, and there are no refunds or exchanges, so it's a good idea to bring a raincoat — or a funky poncho — along, just in case.

Los Angeles

No matter where you are in Los Angeles, there's sure to be a movie theater that suits your taste. From specialty theaters offering fine dining alongside fine film to spectacular showings at the local IMAX, there’s something for everyone in LA.

10. Laemmle's Royal

Standing proudly on Santa Monica Boulevard, Royal Theater looks pretty good, considering it's more than 100 years old. It was built in 1924 and known as the Tivoli until 1972, when Laemmle took it over and moved its offices into a space above the theater. At that time, it took on its new name: Royal.

The Royal is a single-screen venue that seats 600 people and shows independent and art house films from all over the world. As lovers of great stories, we adore watching movies at this iconic movie theater. There’s always something showing that can uplift the spirits and inspire the mind.

11. New Beverly Cinema

According to some cinema buffs, 35-millimeter film beats digital projection every time. If you’re part of that nerdtastic niche, you’ll love New Beverly Cinema. Every movie it shows is in that format, although it sometimes shows low-budget 16-millimeter films.

The Art Deco-style theater was built in the 1920s. In 2018, it won the Kodak Cinema of the Year Award. Locals affectionately call it the "New Bev," and it's a beloved venue for classic films. Bring your children along to the Kiddee Matinee Cartoon Club — kids aged 12 and under get a free bag of popcorn!

12. AMC The Grove 14

If you’re keen to experience the latest action flicks to the fullest, the IMAX at AMC The Grove 14 allows you to do just that. Your heart will pound, and your fingers will grip the armrests of your comfortable recliner as you submit to this sensory experience. The only thing more breathtaking is one of our live shows.

Photographer: Pavel Danilyuk

13. IPIC Westwood

The IPIC Westwood combines fine dining with a superior cinema experience. With a lounge, bar, and restaurant on-site, it is the ideal place for date night or to catch up with family and friends. The menu offers American and international flavors, catering to every taste.

Opt for Premium Plus seating, and you can order food, drinks, and blankets from the comfort of your recliner with the push of a button. Garage parking is available for $4.

Other Nearby Areas

If you’re willing to drive a little further, you'll find a drive-in theater and one that offers dine-in options. Once you’re feeling refreshed and inspired, you may have the energy to stretch your night out with some live music in Santa Monica.

14. AMC Dine-In Marina 6

AMC Dine-In Marina 6 is the perfect place to go for a relaxing evening. Order your meal at the concession stand, and they'll bring it to your seat when it's ready. The movie theater also serves beer, wine, cocktails, and soft drinks.

We know the feeling of a physically tiring week. Visiting the theater is the ideal way to kick back and pamper yourself with good food and even better cinema.

Photographer: Brands&People

15. Electric Dusk Drive-In

Ah, the romance of a drive-in movie theater! On those balmy California nights, is there any better place to be? The Electric Dusk Drive-In is an outdoor theater located on North Central Avenue in Glendale.

Once you roll up, pick the perfect parking spot, and tune your car’s FM radio to receive the audio track. If your vehicle doesn't have one, you can borrow a transistor radio from the concession stand.

Once you roll up, pick the perfect parking spot, and tune your car’s FM radio to receive the audio track. If your vehicle doesn't have one, you can borrow a transistor radio from the concession stand.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Electric Dusk Drive-in (@electricduskdrivein)

Lights, Camera, Action: The Ultimate Santa Monica Movie Theaters

The silver screen is something special, but live performances can be just as enthralling. We invite you to join us at one of our shows in Santa Monica, where our performers give their all every night to ensure you have a truly captivating experience.

Dreams unfold on the stage as we tell stories through music, acrobatics, circus skills, and incredible visual effects. Each breathtaking act will have you gripping the edge of your seat in suspense. As you stroll into the big top, prepare to be transported into a world of wonder.

More articles about