The Million Dollar Theatre was built by theater impresario Sid Grauman and opened on February 1, 1918 with the premiere of William S. Hart’s film The Silent Man. At the time of its opening, it was one of the largest movie theaters in the country with 2,345 seats. The Million Dollar is one of the oldest theaters still operating in the Broadway Theater District. It is located on the southwest corner of 3rd St. and Broadway in the Historic Core of Downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to Grand Central Market and across the street from the landmark Bradbury Building.
Work on the theater began in 1917, with architect Albert C. Martin, Sr. designing the building in a Spanish Baroque Revival style. William L. Woollett designed the interior of the theater, and Jo Mora completed the elaborate sculpture work on the exterior archway, now partially covered by the marquee sign.
In its early years, the theater operated as a movie palace and vaudeville theater. Metropolitan Theatres took over management in 1945, bringing in famous jazz acts such as Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway to revitalize the theater following the Great Depression. By 1950, Frank Fouce, Sr. began managing the theater, introducing Mexican film stars and performers. His son, Frank L. Fouce, followed suit and eventually went on to own the theater, making the Million Dollar the destination for Spanish-language entertainment in Los Angeles.
For many years, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was headquartered in the office building, just above the theater. However, the building now houses apartments instead of offices. The theater was home to a Spanish-speaking church up until 2006. In recent years the theater has been used by organizations such as Cinespia, Street Food Cinema, and Last Remaining Seats for classic film screenings.