By Amanda Mayberry
Stepping off the Goldline on to the Highland Park platform is like traveling back in time. In its glory days the area thrived with life and supported six movie theaters.
Today, the area is almost a ghost town and The Highland Theatre is all that remains, a historic landmark paying final tribute to an era which has all but been forgotten.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays movie goers pay $4 a ticket all day to see first run movies. On every other day tickets cost $5 before 6 p.m. and $7 dollars after six.
The theater caters to a steady and constant flow of customers throughout the week, and experiences a boom in sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with their unbeatable $3 special.
The Highland Theater was built by Lewis A. Smith, a prominent theater architect at the time. The theater was first opened in 1925, and contained only one screen with 1,432 seats including a balcony.
In the 1980’s the theatre was refurbished into a triplex and the balcony was closed off and is currently used for storage.
Until recently, The Highland Theatre played three movies at a time, but has recently begun showing just two movies instead. The theatre also recently updated to all digital projection.
Though the theater is small, containing only three screens and showing only two movies at a time, it still manages to bring in big business with their unbeatable price of $4 on first-run movies.
Time has been tough on The Highland, and upon entering into its rather small lobby, this fact is immediately obvious. The Highland Park is a bit dingy, with specks of trampled popcorn littered all over the small lobby leading all the way into the theaters.
Bus boys perform the routine clean up between showtimes, but still it is not uncommon to find trash from who knows what time of day all throughout the seats. It is also not uncommon to find beer cans or bottles lined up against the walls.
In spite of this, The Highland manages to pull in good business by offering patrons something they cannot find anywhere else: cheap movies.
Larger, more high tech theaters which offer IMAX, 3D, stadium seating, and other such decadence are about $15 a ticket since a few years ago.
There has been a definite decline in movie ticket sales since the early 2000’s, which is perhaps partly to blame for the rise in ticket prices. Ironically enough, this rise in ticket prices is also partly at fault for the decline in ticket buyers.
Though the future may look grim for the movie industry, in spite of this slow and steady death of what was once a great American pastime, The Highland Theatre remains a pillar of strength, a faint pulse at the center of what has essentially become a ghost town.
The Highland Theatre is located just off the corner of Figueroa and Ave 56 in Highland Park.