Where was Oscar host Chris Rock’s ‘Compton’ movie theater? Not in Compton

The Rave Cinema 15 — formerly the Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15 — at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in 2012.

The Rave Cinema 15 — formerly the Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15 — at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in 2012.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

During a comedy bit at the 88th Academy Awards Sunday night, Chris Rock said he trekked to a Compton movie theater to interview black moviegoers about largely white Oscar contenders.

The resulting segment got big laughs as Rock asked cinema fans if they had seen, or even heard of, movies like “The Big Short,” “Brooklyn” and “Bridge of Spies.”

But there was one problem with the routine — that theater isn’t in Compton. Rock’s video, filmed about a week before the ceremony, actually took place in front of the Rave Cinema 15 (formerly Magic Johnson Theatres) at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

In fact, as the Los Angeles Times has reported, Compton doesn’t even have a movie theater within its city limits, and it hasn’t in decades.


That fact resurfaced last year during the release of “Straight Outta Compton,” Universal Pictures’ hit film about the members of the groundbreaking gangsta rap group N.W.A. Though the movie grossed $200 million globally, it couldn’t be shown in the rappers’ hometown.

Compton could get its own theater soon. City officials have proposed the construction of a 14-screen, 60,000-square-foot movie theater as part of a larger entertainment complex for the area historically neglected by the film industry.

Los Angeles-based Maya Cinemas, which specializes in theaters in predominantly Latino communities, would finance, build and operate the multiplex. Compton’s City Council voted this month to move forward on the development.

For now though, Compton residents still have to venture to Baldwin Hills or Paramount to see the latest theatrical releases.

The Rave Cinema, once known as the Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15, has its own noteworthy history.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson‘s cinema venture Magic Johnson Theatres became a Baldwin Hills business success story in the mid-1990s for the former Lakers star, who had advocated for more entertainment options in largely black communities.

But Johnson sold his theater company in 2004, and the Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15 multiplex closed in 2010. It was renovated and reopened the following year by theater operator Rave Motion Pictures, now owned by Plano, Texas, cinema chain Cinemark.

Producers of the Oscars telecast were not immediately available for comment.


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