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Star Theatre

Carlos Vargas


Behind the Shot

The Star Theatre in Oceanside, California, opened in August 1956 with the movie Moby Dick starring Gregory Peck. It was originally designed for a seating capacity of 986. The auditorium was fitted with surround speakers built into the ceiling, for the then-new stereophonic movies.

Designed by architect William Glenn Balch, the Star is from an era when neon was king, and every city was building a drive-in or walk-in theater. It is the largest of Balch’s 17 theaters in California, and the last one that is still open. The marquee boasted being the largest in San Diego County and has been noted for its spectacular animation. It is one of the few remaining examples from its era. In 1998, The Star Theatre was named a Historic Resource. Photographer Carlos Vargas took this image in 2021.