Vogue Theatre in Chula Vista is Officially Closed

posted by spaceagespy on July 25, 2006 at 2:28 am

CHULA VISTA, CA — The theater is now closed. We want to thank everybody for 61 years of coming to the movies. and ahh… have a good one.

Hello Cinema Treasures,

The Vogue Theatre in Chula Vista, California is now officially closed. The last day of “Now Playing” movies was on July 20, 2006. The building is for sale but I’m not sure for how much. I will find out. The concessions stand still has the ads on the walls, popcorn machine, and window display counters. I just came back from taking pictures. If this is of any interest please tell me how to send them.

I would like to know how I can organize a community meeting to bring this theater back. Possibly by numerous private and city investments, taxes, etc, not sure. I already wrote a letter to the city of Chula Vista about the closing of my beloved Vogue Theater. Below is a copy. If there is anything else I can either do or say please direct suggestions to me.

Thank you.

Dear City Manager,

You may remember my previous letter regarding the lack of development & planning for the cities downtown district.

Recently the Vogue Theater on Third Avenue in the downtown district closed its doors. I’m very disappointed and disgusted with the cities lack of commitment to the city’s history and disgusted because you allowed a city icon to close.

Now I see a for sale sign outside the building which makes me wonder if the future owner will either revitalize and bring back the Vogue Theatre or turn it into a 99 cent store.

Shame on you the City of Chula Vista politicians and others who work for us residents. You allowed a city icon to sit and rot away the way you did. The theater could have done so much better with more support by the residents and I will take partial blame for this. I strongly believe the responsibility of this city is to maintain its historic buildings and icons.

I was also a supporter for the Chargers coming here but now I hope they brush you off just like the Padres did. The little things that make the city great are so overlooked. What is not overlooked is the east side of Chula Vista.

So sad.

I will keep Cinema Treasures updated,

Thank you,

David Samaniego
6192537723

Theaters in this post

Comments (22)

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on July 25, 2006 at 3:37 am

Wow. That’s really sad. I’ve been to this theatre twice in the 80’s. It was a nice place to see a flick!

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on July 25, 2006 at 4:36 am

Lack of attendance hurt, along with remaining a single-screen venue in competition with the bigger multi-plex boys. Lost Memory posted several recent pix on the Vogue page, along with a link to the U-T article that appeared in Saturday’s (7/22) paper. Check ‘em out, Chris.

schmadrian
schmadrian on July 25, 2006 at 10:00 pm

This comment isn’t specific to this situation, but what do cinema lovers like David expect cities to do? Is it a question of cutting some slack with taxes? Because in the end, this is a business situation, and this cinema seems to have done all it could to survive, given its choices.

Let me put it this way, using the Vogue as an example: what would you have liked to have seen done by all parties concerned to prevent its closing?

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on July 26, 2006 at 1:45 am

Excellent comments you guys!

Chris,

I’m glad you got to experience this humble little theatre that I grew up to love and even watch first run movies when this and the Fiesta twin were the only theatres in Chula Vista. Do you remember what movies you saw there?

BrooklynJim,

You hit it right on… Plus the fact that movies that have already been out for 10 plus weeks would finally get to a theatre like the Vogue. How can I see Lost Memory’s photos? I have several of my own to share too.

Schmadrian,

What I expect a city to do in this situation is be more sensitive to it’s own historic landmarks. How the city handles the business side within city development will always include the ‘business’ factor. I believe a city has a real responsibilty to uphold and create ways to uphold it’s roots and history landmarks. The people like myself need to be heard. I believe the city has neglected the Vogue theatre and the west side of CV all together.

Chula Vista was a small community though the city has grown so much and so fast within the last five years. Housing and commercial development is booming and may even be the number one city in all of California in regards to population growth, housing and other city development.

You see there is now a west and east side to CV. I and the Vogue are on the west side. The city of Chula Vista is developing the east side beautifully and perfectly yet the west side gets no attention at all. Honestly it’s almost like a snobbish attitude I see from them.

You’re right about the choices given part. The creative marketing by the theatre owners wasn’t there at all. Obviously they didn’t have the dollars to support any ideas they may of had.

In regards to your question about preventing the theatres closure, good question btw. I believe my lack of education, lack of understanding politics and lack of city management knowledge makes it hard for me to explain what the city should have done or can do now.

The theatre owners obviously did as much as they were capable of doing. Just the simple fact that this theatre is a historic landmark should justify the cities interest to preserve closure at all. Just like when the airlines receive federal aid to keep flying the Vogue owners should have received city aid from tax revenue.

Those are just my opinions and ideas. I would love to visit the city manager and ask how I can open a bank account with the cities endorsement. Find an investor to help me promote the goal to reopen the Vogue theatre. Then ask residents for donations which will be deposited in some type of trust account. Maybe I can make flyers and deliver them to houses. Get their support and build from there. I have an idea but I am clueless as to how to make this really work.

What do you guys think?

David

schmadrian
schmadrian on July 26, 2006 at 2:12 am

Well, I’m not from your neck of the woods. So I can’t comment on the viability of the Vogue. However…

I think there’s two aspects to this issue. One is the emotional one, which has to do with our mutual attachment to ‘cinema treasures’. The other is the financial realities of the movie-showing world. And it’s so easy to weight the discussion with the former. I know, because I’ve played ‘What if?’ with the situation in my neighbourhood. (I could cite some solid examples from my backyard, but I won’t unless asked. Don’t want to use up too much e-ink…)

There is a shifting landscape in the world of film-watching. And as a result of this, as much as real estate values going through the roof and cities not being amenable to tax concessions for ‘heritage buildings’ of this sort, these places are disappearing. OK, so I’ll spend some ink here: my hometown no longer has a single-screener downtown. It no longer has an art-house or rep cinema. (Even though there’s a university and a college here) Why? Economic glaciering. The market’s changed and the result is that a nearly-100 year old cinema has had its entrace razed and another from 1912 is awaiting conversion to condos. In Toronto, the continent’s third largest market in terms of per-capita attendance, there is now no downtown cinema. And the multiplex that was planned for arguably the busiest intersection (Yonge and Dundas) will most likely never happen…because of land costs and that the return on investment just isnt' there…especially when you factor in the tumultuous changes that we’re going to see when ‘simultaneous release dates’ arrives.

What’s the answer? Well, each situation is different, requiring a uique approach. But as much as I would love to see each and every one of the cinemas I grew up going to resurrected, refurbished and re-opened, some of these sites are going to go away no matter what steps are taken. “Wishing it doesn’t make it so.” This is why I asked the question about what you think could have been done.

If I read correctly, this cinema sold, didn’t it? For $3.5 million? Was that right? (Can’t find the link…) Do you really think that the new owners are going to try to make another go of it, keeping it as a cinema? After it’s been closed for what amounts to lack of business?

I wish people still gave cinema-going the same cachet they used to. But they don’t. And as more and more people change their default to home viewing, more and more of these situations are going to become more and more common. I’m not saying it’s right, or that it doesn’t make me sad. But at the end of the day, even if you had the money to open it yourself, you probably couldn’t keep it open if the market has changed that much. What’s that term for doing something for the sheer fun of it, not for viability? ‘Hobby farming’.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on July 26, 2006 at 5:28 am

SpAcEaGeSpY, since I don’t trust CT’s internal search engine, just click on my name above (in blue) which will take you to my profile page. The Vogue Theatre is about 8 from the top. Click on it to get that page. Lost Memory provided photo links on 6/14 and 7/23. Enjoy ‘em!

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on July 26, 2006 at 10:47 am

Schmadrian,

Your point about the land cost and the return on the investment is true. I can easily agree with alot of other comments you made too. You’re also able to seperate emotions and business very well which I admire.

I started a business with no emotion and with no passion what so ever, I actually hated it. I just knew that I could make money doing what it is I do and I did. There’s a demand for what I do, the demand for movie theatres in general has dropped due to home theatre systems, you’re right again.

I called the real estate office who handled the sale and was told I can talk to the new landlord for the VT on Monday July 31st. On that date I’ll know what their plans are for the theatre. I do have an interest to rent the theatre for a project I’m working on. God willing this will go through. I’ll keep you posted.

I truly believe there is a pop, fashion, movie buff culture that will fill the seats if the marketing tools are there. I have ideas that I will present to the landlord and yes this will be for the fun of it and at the same time make a profit, why not?

spaceagespy

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on July 26, 2006 at 10:53 am

BrooklynJim,

I clicked on the blue name link and found your profile though I didn’t see any pics. I’ll keep trying, thanks for helping me out.

Thanks,

David

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on July 27, 2006 at 4:39 am

S-a-S, LOL! I suspect you might be fairly new to navigating this sometimes complex website, so let’s try it again, as you were very close.

You got to my profile – so far, so good. Now look at listings of theaters from the top. Locate “Vogue Theatre” (about 10 from the top now). There won’t be any pictures until you click on it to bring up the theater’s page with all the postings about it. Lost Memory’s 6/14 and 7/23 posts have blue links to click on so that the pix you want to see will appear. Voila! Buona fortuna! :)

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on July 27, 2006 at 5:12 am

LOL…yes I’m a newbie here and nieve about the movie biz. Fortuna Bueno came through for me. Thanks Jim. I’ve taken similar photos and I’ll get them on my photobucket asap.

Thanks alot BrooklynJim!

vsnnk
vsnnk on July 29, 2006 at 4:46 pm

David Samaniego,
This theatre was listed for sale for the past 2 years on and off. The theatre was running on barely any profit at all, they were losing money for many years. How long do you expect them to keep running this as a theatre at a loss? What did YOU do for the last 3 years when the theatre was for sale and no one was buying it? How can you expect them to run it with a continuous year after year loss? Just so you can see your $3.50 movie? Are you ready to pay $9.50 a movie like other running movie theatres? If so, would you make sure to drum up 75% occupancy of the 650 seats every showing? It’s easy to get emotional but realistically and practically people are not going to come to this area and pay $9.50 with no parking availability. Everything is historic. History is about change. Not all change is bad. Nothing lasts forever. Everyone should strive to make the world a better place, not just complain about changes.

schmadrian
schmadrian on July 29, 2006 at 11:02 pm

movie lover:

I’m sure you’ll cracked open a hornets' nest with your comments, but because I’ve been yammering on about the same issues for some time now, I wanted to sound a tiny bell of support.

When I first joined this site it was really just to have a resource for looking up old and disappeared cinemas. Back then, my reaction to a closing theatre, or one that had been renovated or one that had been demolished was a twinge of heartache. Now, I’m not a ‘purist’ like some people here; I grieve every time I walk past the the facade of the University on Bloor Street in Toronto, now a Pottery Barn location, I grieve every time I take a look at the Century and Tivoli in Hamilton, both such sad sights now, and I feel sad when I’m in the Locke Street neighbourhood and see what the Regent’s become, a health spa, a hair salon, a yoga studio and apartments. But I also sigh when I’m at the Eaton Centre in Toronto and realize the original Cinelplex multiplex is gone. Now, most people here wouldn’t waste a thought on a multiplex vanishing to ‘progress’. But to me, that place was ‘historical’. It had meaning to me, even though one of its screens was no bigger than a matchbox. (OK, I exaggerate. A little.)

Lately, as I’ve become more and more aware of how things are changing in the world of film, become more cognizant of the misinformation regarding the place movie-going has in the overall revenue pie, I think my attitude has changed. Old cinemas still tug at my heartstrings. I still want to do road trips of cinemas across the continent. But I guess I’ve allowed a little perspective to come in. And I think it was your final comment that illuminated things for me. Because I sense I’ve been thinking along these lines as well.

It’s easy to forget that this site is a ‘special interest’ site. Fact is that we’re in the minority. Most people don’t see cinemas, or cinema-going in the same way we do. Most people don’t react the way we do when the closing of a cinema is announced. They simply don’t see these building in the same way we do. But what’s the more, because of this difference, they don’t want to see their tax dollars being used to ‘save’ a building. And why should they? Tax dollars are stretched everywhere. (Never mind that they’re misused everywhere…) Why should the average person want a million dollars put into purchasing an old cinema that hasn’t been viable for years when that money could go towards an endless number of more human-based projects? They (by-and-large) shouldn’t and don’t.

In my ‘Old Cinemas Fantasy, Local Version’, I’d see the two Hamilton fixtures I mentioned, restored as historical gems. I’d see the two Thomas Lamb cinemas brought back to life. I’d see the Avon on Ottawa Street restored, the Towne on Barton Street…and I’d like to bring back my childhood faves in Stoney Creek, the Fox, a Canadian Legion for over thirty years now, and the SkyWay Drive-in, the first one in Canada. So in this fantasy, they’re all magically restored… And then what? They sit as museums? The market changed, they died. The business landscape changed, they died. The world changed, they died.

While I’ll grant that it is a government’s responsibility to maintain a community’s history and heritage, it’s not their responsibility to provide feel-good for a select group of its citizens. A balance must be struck. Here’s three examples of former Toronto cinema palaces that are no longer showing movies, yet are still there to walk past and reminisce over, or to take enjoy enjoyment from in other ways:

The York Cinema
The Capitol Cinema
The Eglinton

So movie lover, you’re right, I agree with your observations, your sentiments. I’ll still grieve as much as anyone else here when the next closing is announced, but surely some degree of reason has to surface when yet another cinema treasure lover starts yelling ‘Help me save this gem!’

I truly wonder what the outcry was like when movies killed vaudeville…

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on July 29, 2006 at 11:32 pm

Very well put……..I love old theaters but i am very against local city officials useing tax dollars to save them.Goverment has no bsns in owning private bsns………IF this theater is to be saved should be done the old fashion way…………..Dream it,do it,make it happen!

schmadrian
schmadrian on July 29, 2006 at 11:58 pm

When a cinema has been sold, the possible outcomes are narrowed susbstantially.

“(Vogue) Owners Bill and Esther Upham sold the property for $1.55 million after struggling to break even for several years as a single-screen venue.”

Which begs the question ‘Why would a new owner have any desire to try a failed enterprise (showing films) after forking out $1.55 mill?’ (Unless he’s a Cinema Treasures lottery winner…) Methinks conversion is the outcome.

This comment from the closing of the Revue in Toronto:

“Flanagan began talking with neighbours and other community members. Soon a committee of about 50 people was racing against time to save the theatre. They persuaded Councillor Sylvia Watson to join, and won a small victory when they got it named a heritage site.

Their goal is to operate the theatre as a community-run, not-for-profit business, but the group faces the near-hopeless task of finding at least $40,000 a month (CDN) to meet operating costs."

As property values in upscale neighbourhoods increase, the viability of a cinema such as this is practically zero.

Now, I understand that in Chicago, one of the reasons that some smaller cinemas have closed has to do with draconian and arbitrary entertainment charges and taxes. (Sorry if I’m not absolutely conversant with the specifics.) Here is an area where I think ‘government’ should allow concessions. That heritage should be maintained, that our cinema past is worth preserving. But this is before the fact, not after. And it has to be shown that the entity (the cinema) plays a vital role in the community. That is, the market has to be there. In some communities, it is. (Witness The Naro and the Commodore in Virginia, the Duke of York’s in Brighton, UK.) But if you’ve got a cinema where, despite almost giving away the tickets, people are ‘staying away in droves’, as seems to be the case with the Vogue, you really need to find a cause more worthy to your passion. These buildings aren’t people. They’re churches of film, they contain a billion cinematic memories, but in the end… Well, in the end, there’s an end. Sad, but the truth.

vsnnk
vsnnk on July 31, 2006 at 6:07 pm

David Samaniego,spaceagespy,
I’m the new owner of this Vogue theater. Looks like you are very emotional and want to open this as a theater. I can give you that opportunity. The Lease comparables in this area are $1.50 per Square foot. You multiply that with 7130 Square Feet which comes to $10,695 dollars per month lease payment. You have to pay three months deposit as you have lot of equipment ready to function as theater. You have to take five year lease and should have good credit history. Don’t get me wrong! I have a very big monthly mortgage payment to pay and add real estate taxes and insurance and will still probably breakeven if I’m lucky! E-mail me if you are interested.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on July 31, 2006 at 6:25 pm

wow…. wont be a theater any time soon at that price……..So what does it cost to make the conversion to retail/office ……I just looked at a 24,ooo sq ft theater in a decent size city for $9,899.oo mo (6 PLEX)

schmadrian
schmadrian on July 31, 2006 at 9:16 pm

Interesting how having the numbers laid out in front of you tends to shatter those rose-coloured glasses, huh? Not so mysterious now why so many ‘fringe players’ are folding.

It would be so nice if this site had message/discussion boards; I’d love to see a conversation regarding keeping small, indie cinemas alive…or resurrecting them. Balancing the ‘I wish’ with the ‘I can’t believe it’.

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on August 1, 2006 at 3:38 am

No shattered glasses yet….I knew the nummbers game already. When a dream is discovered in the morning, you will live each day to see it come true before nightfall.

Well folks, I just got off the phone with Vinod, the new owner of
the Vogue Theatre. What a wonderful person, man, business mind he has. We passed a few great ‘theatre saving’ ideas back and forth to one another. He is very devoted to saving this theatre, doing so without getting very emotional like myself. But having the emotional side fuels the energy to be creative and the energy can then flow over to others who hare your dream.

Well to make this short, I will have an opportunity to present my ideas to Vinod – to keep the theatre going- by Friday of the week.

Another point to make is that the city of Chula Vista is one of the most expensive places to live at in all of California.

Talk to you all later,

David Samaniego
619.253.7723

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on August 1, 2006 at 3:41 am

No shattered glasses yet….I knew the nummbers game already. When a dream is discovered in the morning, you will live each day to see it come true before nightfall.

Well folks, I just got off the phone with Vinod, the new owner of
the Vogue Theatre. What a wonderful person, man, business mind he has. We passed a few great ‘theatre saving’ ideas back and forth to one another. He is very devoted to saving this theatre, doing so without getting very emotional like myself. But having the emotional side fuels the energy to be creative and the energy can then flow over to others who hare your dream.

Well to make this short, I will have an opportunity to present my ideas to Vinod – to keep the theatre going- by Friday of the week.

Another point to make is that the city of Chula Vista is one of the most expensive places to live at in all of California.

Talk to you all later,

David Samaniego
619.253.7723

spaceagespy
spaceagespy on August 1, 2006 at 3:46 am

No shattered glasses yet….I knew the nummbers game already. When a dream is discovered in the morning, you will live each day to see it come true before nightfall.

Well folks, I just got off the phone with Vinod, the new owner of
the Vogue Theatre. What a wonderful person, man, business mind he has. We passed a few great ‘theatre saving’ ideas back and forth to one another. He is very devoted to saving this theatre, doing so without getting very emotional like myself. But having the emotional side fuels the energy to be creative and the energy can then flow over to others who hare your dream.

Well to make this short, I will have an opportunity to present my ideas to Vinod – to keep the theatre going- by Friday of the week.

Another point to make is that the city of Chula Vista is one of the most expensive places to live at in all of California.

Talk to you all later,

David Samaniego
619.253.7723

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on August 3, 2006 at 9:55 am

Good luck to you David///////////////////////

JenniferMavens
JenniferMavens on November 1, 2009 at 8:03 pm

So it is almost 2010 and still no theater what gives?

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