By Ariyana Griffin
INGLEWOOD — The Miracle Theater, located on Market Street in downtown Inglewood, has begun showing movies in Inglewood for the first time in decades.
“Not since The Fox presented Spanish movies back in the 1980s has a ticketed Hollywood film played for the public in a city of Inglewood movie theater,” The Miracle stated on its Instagram page, @themiracleinglewood.
The theater kicked off a series of films, called Miracle Movies, July 23, screening the 1999 coming-of-age film, “The Wood.”
Inglewood native Duane Finley, the actor who played the younger version of the character Slim in the movie, opened the show and greeted fans. He explained how this was his first ever film, and how he auditioned for the movie because of his drama teacher during his senior year at Inglewood High School.
“She took about 10 students down to Santa Monica Boulevard to audition for this film,” Finley said. “I had no idea that I would book this, and it changed my life ever since.”
The theater served barbecue, snacks and movie-themed beverages for ticket holders to enjoy.
The Miracle Theater dates back to 1937 when it was called the Ritz. By the early 1950s, it was joined by a United Artists Theater just up the block and the Fox Theater.
The Ritz was sold in 1975 and became a Pussycat Theater, featuring adult cinema. In 1985, the Pussycat became the Miracle Theater, which featured Sunday gospel stage plays.
By this time, the United Artists’ Theater had burned down and the Fox closed its doors leaving Inglewood without a movie theater.
The Miracle reopened in 2017 after standing empty for over a decade. It became a cultural event theater and a place for artists to showcase their talents. However, now it is returning to its historic Ritz Theater roots and showing movies weekly.
After opeing last weekend with “The Wood,” the Miracle will offer “Summer of Soul,” the 2021 documentary produced by Questlove that depicted the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969, the so-called Black Woodstock that featured performances by Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Gil Scott-Heron, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and others.
The first movie at the Miracle drew a positive reaction from at least one movie-goer.
“Being able to experience various aspects of Black history and creativity in a city that continues to house Black culture in L.A. was nothing less than amazing,” Lexcia Carr said. “Moreover, watching a 90s classic about Inglewood in Inglewood, at their oldest and only theater felt like a fulfilling moment as well as a motivational one.
“One of my favorite parts of the night was hearing from Inglewood’s very own, Duane Finley, who plays one of the main characters in the movie,” Carr added. “His passion about art and entertainment and dedication to preserving Inglewood were enough to inspire a young creative like myself. I think everyone should take the opportunity to watch a features film at the Miracle Theater this summer.”
To check out other upcoming features and showtimes, visit @themiracleinglewood on Instagram.