Century 21

3161 Olsen Drive,
San Jose, CA 95117

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Showing 26 - 48 of 48 comments

AndyT on January 31, 2008 at 10:55 am

I will never forget seeing 2001 the week of its release in 1969. The Century 21 still had its curved screen and the place was jammed. My date and I wound up sitting very close to the screen —– if I remember right we were actually within the arch of the screen. 70MM never looked so good. It was a transforming experience for me in the way I look at film. Great memory!

kucharsk on January 13, 2008 at 5:43 am

I’m grateful that the Winchester 21, 22 and 23 are still in operation, and am thankful for that non-transferable lease as I suspect it may be one of the few things preventing Cinemark from taking a bulldozer to these amazing theatres and replacing them with one of their shoebox 24-screen cineplexes.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on October 30, 2007 at 11:52 pm

John — Bill Tannehill passed away a number of years back.

terrywade on August 9, 2007 at 8:42 pm

Id love to see the curtains working again. They don’t close them lack of showmanship by the Syufy brothers. The curve from the big screen they had is gone. To bad they didn’t keep it in at least for the 21 Dome. The Syufy people need to do a big 70mm week at the Century 21.

tarantex on July 3, 2007 at 12:20 am

hey does anyone know if Bill Tannehill, still the Manager, Marl and Bill the best two in the World, there children grew up in the Theatre Business

Marina on July 2, 2007 at 9:45 pm

I saw many wonderful films at the Century Dome Theatres on Winchester in the early 1970’s. Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo & Juliet and Godfather One are a few that come to mind. A few girlfriends, my sisters and I went there to see American Graffiti, a nostalgic movie directed by the largely unknown George Lucas. The story, set in the 1950s, featured lots of teens and their hot cars. My friend Yolanda Garcia had a white, 1950’s 4 door Chevy that she and her father had just restored – and she drove it from her home in Sunnyvale to meet us at the theatre. We were surprised to find that Yolanda’s car was identical to the one Ron Howard drove around in the film. So after the film, we cruised the parking lot doing donuts, me “hanging a B.A.” (for Bare Ass) out of a window in the back seat. I’d like to think I was paying tribute to the theme of architecture in the round, but at the time, I was only showing off the ability to keep my ass-ets in the air in a spinning car while all of us laughed our heads off. The stunt inspired multiple carloads of boys to follow us (for hours) from the parking lot all around San Jose and Campbell, they, trying in vain, to get the old Chevy full of wild girls to pull over. Opportunities to party were numerous in those days, but we were not interested in stopping for any of them. Luckily Yolanda had a tankfull of cheap gas and a lead foot. Boy did my own kids have it rough when they were teens; Mom knew (almost) all the tricks! Speaking of Moms, my own often took my sisters and myself out for burgers, fries or fantastic o'rings and real chocolate milkshakes right down the street at Bob’s Big Boy after the movies. Good times! I still cringe at the sound of spoons scraping the sides of the tall, cold, metal “glasses” those shakes were served in.
Long live old friends, the Domes, Mom and big Bob, too!
~ Marina Andriola, Campbell High, Class of ‘73.

CMLion152 on May 29, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Vincent G. Raney was the architect for all Century Theatres built from 1964 through the early 1990’s. He also built a number of Catholic churches in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The 21 is a unique dome design compared to domes that followed. The lobby and projection booth are significantly larger than the other theatres. Also, much of the building is made with concrete, including the walls of the projection booth.

FYI: In the summer of 2005 Century Theatres put themselves up for sale and they were acquired in 2006 by Cinemark of Plano, TX for what is rumored to be approx $1 billion in cash & stock. However, the lease for the land that the Century 21, 22, and 23 theatres sit on is non-transferable. Until they can get the deal worked out, they are called Winchester Theatres and are still owned by Syufy Enterprises (the parent of what was Century Theatres)—but booked by Cinemark.

girt on September 26, 2005 at 9:03 pm

Hello all, I am a photographer and painter who has become fascinated by these domed structures. Growing up in San Jose, these were the theatres I had always gone to see films and I didn’t realize how much the buildings really meant to me until recently. I am trying to learn as much about the design of these theatres, the architects, and their vernacular. If anyone can give me any information on their history I would greatly appreciate it.
thanks, Marty

CMLion152 on September 19, 2005 at 5:17 am

I worked for Century Theatres for 13 years and still have good friends working in their coporate office.

The Sanatana Row theaters are small theatres and are not “Century Theatres,” but “Cine Arts” an arts division of Century—I don’t think the entire SR complex seats 1000. The domes are too big to play art films and SR is their answer.

The talk now for “The Block” (Century 21-23) is a remodel similar to what was done with the Cinerama Dome in LA—a large complex built around one of the domes (I would suspect the 21, as it is almost completely concrete and tearing that down would be quite an udertaking).

However, there was talk that Century was going to be sold this summer, so everything is probably on hold now.

RHoward on March 18, 2005 at 11:01 am

Hello all,

I was proud to be a manager for Syufy(Century Theatres)for about 15 years. The Century 22 was my home for 5 of them. Century 22 is the sister and next door to the 21 and the difference being 2 additional screens, each seating 600. The 21 and 22(A screen) share many of the same characteristics. Each seating aprox 1020, sound systems, projection equiptment and sometimes even staff.

I have been away from the theatre business for around 10 years now and funny enough now I have a company that provides a product to the studios that make the films. Any film that is worth seeing I will drive the 2hours to see it in a theatre that has always put presentation as a top priority.

The 21 and 22 theatres have a very rich history, we all even beleived that Sara herself visited every now and then in spirit.

These theatres offer more than just a trip to the movies but an experience. Opening night for a movie like Star Wars, Star Trek and even Dracular always provided the movie goer with more than just an average trip to the show. Imagine sitting next to a Klingon watching Star Trek or someone with those 2" perly whites munching on popcorn during Dracula.

Many a stars regulary visit these theatres, some making the 22 as home for premier screenings.

I miss those days and think of them often. I feel good about being a part of what these theatres represent to many of you.


natedogg on February 20, 2005 at 10:20 pm

i don’t see that much time these theaters will be open due to the new theater in santana row

rp2813 on September 21, 2004 at 11:57 am

My mom worked in group sales for the Century Theatres back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Seating capacity was 900+ in the yet-to-be-duplexed theatres. While this may seem huge to some, it is still far fewer seats than the 1700+ available in the Fox (now California) and other theatres downtown. I never found anything appealing about the Centuries. They immediately appeared to be cheap, especially with the sound of walking on a plywood surface when getting to your seat. I think maybe the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood would offer a better interior but I have never been in that one so I’m only speculating. Still, Century 21 filled a large void in San Jose when it was built. Until then, it was a major family event to drive to San Francisco’s Orpheum theatre to see anything in Cinerama, so regardless of how anyone feels about their architecture, these theatres eliminated a major inconvenience for Cinerama viewers not only in San Jose but also residents of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties!

Eric on May 11, 2004 at 12:02 pm

Fantastic! Can’t wait to see the photos. Just don’t get caught with the camera inside the theatre. They might think you’re trying to pirate the movie!!

spriggig on April 18, 2004 at 8:33 pm

(Update, see previous post by me.) I’m going back to my home town for the first time in six years, next month. Visiting these theatres is high on my list of must-do’s. I’m going to see whatever is playing in the one remaining full dome theater (Shrek, I hope, so the kids can go too). I got a digital camera for Xmas and will be taking plenty of pictures of this theater for my website, and I’ll provide those photos to this website too. Check out my site at http://thebrunners.net/ after June 12th, 2004.

spriggig on March 8, 2004 at 10:56 pm

I was born and raised in San Jose, lived there 1965-1992 and I have very fond memories of this cinema. I saw Alien, all three Back to the Futures, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi there to name a just few. We used to go the the Denny’s right out in front afterward for milkshakes and onion rings. I remember waiting in lines that stetched out to the end of the parking lot for some movies. I’m hoping to find some more photos of the interior to show to my kids, they don’t believe me when I tell them how big it is.

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on February 4, 2004 at 5:15 am

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion — even if we beg to differ. :)

PAULB on February 4, 2004 at 3:23 am

what a horrible comment, I hope Michael gets erased by the owners of this site.

unknown on November 5, 2003 at 12:32 pm

The main auditorium of the CineArts in Pleasant Hill (original name, Century 21) is the same layout as the Century 21 in San Jose & undivided. Enjoy that one while it’s still there!

Donald John Long
Donald John Long on November 18, 2002 at 6:25 pm

This complex has always been my favorite place to go to see first-run major blockbuster movies since 1980. I’ve seen many major studio films here, beginning with STAR WARS: The EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1980. The entire complex is a good cinema experience, although I’d rather see movies in the “unhalved” complete cinedomes of the Century 21 and 22. The Century 21, 22 and 23 are located on Winchester Blvd. between Stevens Creek Blvd. and the 280 Freeway, right next to the Winchester Mystery House. The Century 24 is situated two blocks to the south on Winchester Blvd. while the Century 25 is across town at the intersection of Hamilton and Saratoga. Thank God they were unharmed by the spectacular Santana Row fire across the street on August 19, 2002! That was scary.

TomRose on October 6, 2002 at 2:26 pm

Actually more than one Century domed theater has been “halved.” Domes 23, 24, and 25 have all been separated by a center wall for some time. The 25 may be slated for destruction, it is the only one not to be remodeled and will be redundant when the new multi-screen opens in nearby Santana Row.

AlanSmithee on December 23, 2001 at 8:33 pm

I was overjoyed to see this theatre is still there and unharmed- I went there a lot when I lived down there back in the 70’s. There is a similar complex in Sacramento, CA, but both of the large domes have been cut in half! I hear one of the domes in the San Jose complex was halved too; it is truly a depressing sight. I have to wonder what possessed them to ruin these theatres, here’s hoping Century will someday restore them all back to the way they should be!

Loan on June 18, 2001 at 8:48 pm

I would like to know where I can I find the movie times on this website. Please give me the address. Thank you.