(note to readers: I started this article before my father passed away, when I was writing posts dedicated to Pee-Wee's Big Adventure's 25th anniversary...since it was almost finished, I decided to complete and post it)
"I don't have to see it Dottie, I lived it"
To conclude my entirely unplanned Pee-Wee's Big Adventure tribute, four of my last five posts have included a mention of the 1985 classic comedy for those not updating their Colonel Mortimer blog scorecards, let's look at the two movie theatres that show up in Paul Reubens and Tim Burton's fantastical creation. One of which is still in operation, the other razed.
Santa Monica, CA
Though the shopping area stretch where Pee-wee's treasured bicycle was stolen has gone through much changes since 1985, it's no longer a strip mall but a "promenade" thank you very much, the Criterion theatre still stands. Originally built in 1924 as one the Fox chains (which includes such treasures as the Village in Westwood), the original theatre was demolished and rebuilt as a six screen multiplex in 1983. In the twenty-seven years since the Santa Monica renovation it's gone through several owners most notably Mann, who seem to be getting out of the theatre business (for further evidence look at the dire bookings the world famous Chinese theatre have had the last few years: Cats and Dogs 2 (now in it's third week!), The Book of Eli playing for nearly three months and the six week stint that Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li enjoyed there, four weeks more than most theatres!) and sold it to AMC earlier this year.
The marquee has changed too, and I am pretty sure the long run that Cartoon Cavalcade enjoyed in the mid 80s as ended.
Here's a more recent picture of the AMC Criterion 6 (from it's Mann days)
For further information, here's the Criterion Theatre's Cinema Treasures' page.
Culver City, CA
The Studio Drive-in, where the James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild adaptation of Pee-Wee's life story had it's world premiere, opened in the 1940's and sadly like so many others of its ilk, was demolished in the early 1990s, 1993 to be specific, the last double bill to perform there was The Fugitive and True Romance.
The Studio received it's name due to it's proximity to the MGM studios, currently Columbia Pictures' studio. It is now a condominium complex.
I could go on about the sad state of drive-ins, but instead of focusing on the negative, check your local listings, if you reside in California or a similar "warm weathered" state, in all likelihood you are not too far removed from one, and should make the pilgrimage, especially if you have children.
Here's the So-Cal Drive-In page for the Studio Drive-In.
And here's a cool video shot around the time of the Studio Drive-in's final days about the history of Drive-In theatres which aired on AMC in 1993 when it still occasionally showed classic movies, not just Mad Men, Breaking Bad and later Halloween sequels.