The movie theater is housed in the classic theater in the Catalina Casino, which offers classic architecture from the 1920s.
CATALINA ISLAND— The Avalon Theater closed its doors in 2019 but has reopened this summer to offer movie-goers on the island a wide variety of shows to fill in their evenings.
Under the leadership of Wesley Alfvin, a life-long visitor to Catalina, the theater is now open again and showing new movies every week.
Alfvin grew up visiting the island with his family and fell in love with the theater at a young age. So naturally, as an adult, when he learned the theater was closed, he looked for a plan to open it back up.
“When the theater sadly closed its doors, you know I heard the news, and I was saddened,” said Alfvin. “…And I thought there has to be a way forward. I always had that childhood dream of bringing live entertainment, but I knew we had to start with movies, and so I began researching and devising what I thought would be a more sustainable path for the theater.”
Alfvin put in the work and came up with an agreement with the Catalina Island Company to reopen the theater for visitors.
In the previous model, the one-screen theater would show one new movie every three weeks, but by showing older movies, the theater is able to offer several new one-night-only showings a week.
Fourth of July weekend, viewers were able to watch “National Treasure,” “The Batman” with Robert Pattinson, “Independence Day,” and “The Rocketeer.”
“So, the model we came up with was showing slightly older films,” said Alfvin. “So still, current, but things have shifted, so they are no longer considered a new release.”
The theater was built in 1929. At that time, movie theaters were built to offer a stage for live entertainment as well as a movie screen. With 1,122 seats in the vintage theater, there is a lot of space for visitors and locals to enjoy the screenings.
Movies start with a pre-show at 7 p.m., which offers classic cartoons, vintage film clips from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and Universal News Reels meant to give the audience a classic movie-going experience that fits the décor, and then the main showing starts at 8 p.m.
Snacks and refreshments are available in the lobby, and wine and beer are available for viewers over 21.
Alfvin hopes to bring back the same movie-going joy he felt as a child walking into the Avalon Theater.
“I just have really fond memories of seeing movies and being swept away by what felt like stepping back in time and being a part of something special,” said Alfvin. “There is just a magical feeling in the air when you step inside the Avalon Theater. Something sticks with you, and you remember it, and people will come back over and over again just for the opportunity to see a film in such a historic venue.”
For more information, see https://www.theavalontheatre.com/.