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While I’m a bit uneasy about some of this pending remodel, articles, such as the one linked to here, seem to be overlooking the fact that these changes are being made to features which have already been altered from their original specs. The auditorium floor, screen, box office, etc. are currently significantly different from “Sid’s day”. It’s not really a question of altering areas of historical significance, it’s more a question of whether existing alterations are made better or worse via this remodel.
The prints which remain in front of the theatre are:
Linda Lovelace – 12/20/73
Jay Lawrence – 11/19/74 (a radio DJ for KLAC at the time)
Georgina Spelvin – 9/29/77
Marilyn Chambers – 5/23/80
Harry Reems – 9/30/82
Eric Edwards & Kay Parker – 7/12/84 (share a tile)
John Holmes -2/7/85
There are two blank/patched spaces, which match the dimensions of the other tiles, suggesting there may have been at least two more prints at one time.
The signature feature of this theatre is the freakishly large (by modern standards) lobby. The unit’s original department store layout, coupled with the relatively spartan design of a 90’s era megaplex, ended up creating a lobby that is reminiscent of an indoor sports facility.
Regarding the right side fountain terrywade wondered about. While the main fixture remains, the base pool was removed.
While the theatre is long gone, a “Gateway Theatres” labelscar and non functional led marquee can still be seen on a sign that stands adjacent to the northbound side of the 5 freeway.
The theatre really struggled with it’s location. In addition to being hidden in the back of the complex, patrons couldn’t utilize the motel’s parking lot; you had to park at a neighboring business and walk over to the motel. Tickets were $1.00 for the memorabilia museum or $2.00 for the museum and a movie.
The image is of the barbershop located inside the theatre.
Their recording states that they will be “temporarily closed”.
For many years, the Norwalk 20 was also AMC’s leader in hot dog sales. The theatre sold such an unusually high number of hot dogs that Oscar Meyer (AMC’s supplier) even sent out a couple of researchers to pinpoint the reason. I recall one of the researchers standing in various areas taking readings with some gadget that allegedly registered smells (I never heard what sort of conclusion they came up with).
I’m torn. While I hate the idea of the theatre being whittled down to three small auditoriums, I suppose that is better than seeing it closed and converted in to something like retail.
Beyond San Diego, this was AMC’s first megaplex in southern California and one of the early test sites for fine tuning megaplex operations. I remember quite a few managers being sent to Mission Valley for training as the company launched it’s first generation of megaplexes. For a brief time, Mission Valley was quite the cutting edge marvel (before operators over saturated the market and nearly every community had it’s very own 20+ screen “marvel”).
As to TLSLOEWS question: General Cinemas bought a group of Loews venues in the early 70’s. The Tustin Theatre was never a Loews, the reference was tied in to other sites GCC had listed in the advertisement.
Starplex Cinemas has taken over operation of the theatre, effective 5/3/12.
As to the screen described by Douglas above. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, AMC utilized Taurus curved screens in some locations and these screens did utilize a vacuum system (there was obviously a problem in your auditorium, as the screen shouldn’t have been making an audible sound during your movie).
The Pittsburg 8 opened in 1990 and was Brenden Theatres' first venue. The company’s founder/CEO, Johnny Brenden, is the grandson of Ted Mann.
This would be the Brookhurst Theatre. The Loge is located in a neighboring unit.
The cosmetology school moved and the unit is currently (3/12) vacant.
The Crown Valley was a prototypical 80’s Edwards multiplex; shallow two story lobby (restrooms on second floor), one large (500+ seat) auditorium directly off of the lobby, and additional auditoriums down an adjoining hallway.
The theatre was converted in to a church, circa 2002.
Unless there have been dramatic changes with the new operator, the tour doesn’t involve any non public areas. It’s more about pointing out architectural details, trivia, and the general history of the theatre. While that may sound a bit disappointing, I found the tour enjoyable. If you go to the first tour of the day, prior to any showtimes, they also allow you to look around on your own (i.e. you are afforded some private time in the theatre, before they open for business). If a movie is playing during your tour, they spend less time in the auditorium (the guide communicates via a headset that is issued). I had heard there were plans to expand the tour’s coverage a bit; so, it may have changed since Mann.
The closure was the end result of a legal dispute between the property owners and the theatre’s, now former, operator; naturally, each side has a different take on the scenario. However, the property owners are actively seeking a new operator and are committed to reopening as soon as possible. This is NOT a case of a site which doesn’t make money and there are no plans to operate it as anything other than a live theatre.
This was one of the better OC multiplexes, until Edwards lost interest in keeping it up and a less desirable element began frequenting the theatre. I recall the two large auditoriums having impressive screen sizes (for the time) and waterfall curtains (quite a rarity for the multiplex era). The entire theatre was a notch above most multiplexes of the day. Unfortunately, the Hutton Center’s glory days were relatively brief and the site went downhill fast, after Edwards moved on to megaplexes. The last time I went there (circa 96')it had already turned in to the kind of theatre one had second thoughts about going to.
In recent years, the Island 7 was generally a B-film/move over location, with the occasional indie release. Prior to that, I recall there being some decent bookings,but the Big Newport always took the top releases, due to the larger seating capacity. I don’t recall them ever sharing bookings, but it may have happened with really big movies, from time to time.
I would imagine they will place some special effort in to booking the Island, to help launch the theatre (as they did when it first opened). However, I doubt they will neglect the Big Newport, long term. The Big Newport has more seats in one auditorium than the Island does as a facility. The Island’s higher prices and extras simply can’t replace the Big Newport’s raw capacity and potential for big attendance numbers. They will likely go to double bookings by summer.
After the remodel, seating is now 670 total.
Hopefully, the new owner is interested in reopening the theatre as an entertainment venue and the alleged hotel concept simply involves the adjoining commercial space.
Dr. Gene Scott’s widow/successor, Melissa Scott, is a bit “controversial” and has been liquidating a number of the ministry’s holdings in a questionable fashion. So, I seriously doubt the building’s historical value was considered in the sale, from her side.
All three theatres they chose are excellent modern megaplexes, but I wish they would have tried thinking outside the box and created a more interesting list. There is quite a varied and colorful landscape of theatres in Orange County, offering more than “located in a popular shopping destination”, “top grossing”, and “featuring (insert stock list of modern amenities)”.