End of an Era for the Famed Avalon Theater at the Catalina Casino

It’s curtains for first-run films in the new year.

The Catalina Casino, the iconic art deco building that greets guests arriving to Avalon via ferry, houses a 1,184-seat movie theatre that has been entertaining patrons for generations. Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe attended premiers at the Avalon Theater, and the enchanting murals harken a golden age of cinema long passed. Currently the theatre hosts first run movies for residents and visitors. But all that will soon change.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “At the end of this year, the Avalon will stop showing first-run films for good, ending a 90-year tradition. The Catalina Island Co., its owner and operator and the main landlord around town, plans to continue daily tours and offer up the theater for special events like the long-running Catalina Film Fest and Silent Film Benefit.

“Chief Executive Randy Herrel said not enough people attend the new flicks to make the Avalon financially viable. He said it needs at least 137 theatergoers every night to break even; average attendance this year, excluding blockbusters like the live-action Lion King remake, is just 37.

“’It’s not going to get any better for our movie theater,’ he said. ‘What small town that has 4,000 population has a 1,000-seat theater that’s still open?’

“The last straw for Herrel was a drive through Avalon earlier this year on one of Catalina’s signature golf carts.

‘There were so many satellite dishes screwed onto balconies,’ he said. ‘We have no support from the town for the current movies showing … Everyone’s throwing rocks, but no one is coming up with good, viable, sustainable solutions.’”

You can read more about the Avalon Theater and its history here.