The Pantages Theatre Circuit had been built on Vaudeville, and the new Hollywood theatre programmed first-run movies alternating through the day with Vaudeville acts for its first two years. But like other theatres during the Great Depression, it was forced to economize and thereafter operated primarily as a movie theatre, though live entertainment was presented occasionally.
Pantages sold the Hollywood landmark in 1932 to Fox West Coast Theaters. In 1949, Howard Hughes acquired the Pantages under his RKO Theatre Circuit and moved his personal offices to the building's second floor. From 1949 through 1959, the theatre hosted the American motion picture industry's annual Academy Award Ceremonies. It continued to be a major venue for Road show movies into the 1970s. From 1965, it was operated by Pacific Theatres. The Pantages closed as a movie theatre in January, 1977, and re-opened the following month with Bubbling Brown Sugar, the first of the many stage productions that have since become its regular fare.