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The original auditorium of the Orinda Theater in Orinda CA is beautiful & intact! Ditto for the main screen of the CineArts in Pleasant Hill (one of the original dome theaters, opened in the mid-1960’s & is laid out like the Century 21 in San Jose CA). Also, the Paramount in Oakland (more a concert & play venue now, but has occasional forays into classic film).
There are comments for this under Pavilion theater.
West Wind Drive-Ins are owned by the Syufy family. Syufy was the original owner of the Century Theaters chain, which has since been sold to Cinemark Theaters. The Syufys decided to keep the drive-ins.
Syufy has done a 180 degree change of direction in the recent past. A few years ago, they planned to phase out all of their drive-ins, but have decided now to keep their drive-ins operating. (And one, the Solano 1 & 2 in Concord they re-opened as a drive-in just a month ago!)
At one time San Jose had numerous drive-ins, this is the sole survivor. (Syufy also owned the following in Santa Clara County: The Moffett & the Winchester, both long gone.)
This is taken from today’s San Leandro Times:
“Last week the Lorenzo Theater Foundation signed an agreement with the current owner of the property to take possession of the neglected movie house in ‘as is’ condition. Under the agreement, the foundation has 14 months to raise $300,000 to purchase the theater. The foundation has been working toward acquiring the property for nine years and after the theater changes hands, the real work will begin. The cost of repairing and remodeling the theater will be in the millions of dollars, since the Lorenzo has no electricity or running water and extensive structural damage.”
“The fundraising plan is to aim for 300 donors at $1,000 each. Current owner Dr Dharam Salwan kicked off the campaign by pledging $5,000 himself. Anyone who gives $100 or more will have their name placed on a plaque in the theater lobby.
It will be well over a year before anyone gets inside, and restoring the theater to its former glory will take place over the next five years or so, according to Lorenzo Theater Foundation president Nancy Shelvy.”
The plan is for the theater to screen classic films & be a general community visual & performing arts center. Anyone interested in donating can visit www.savethelorenzo.org or send checks payable to the Lorenzo Theater Foundation at
PO Box 193
San Lorenzo CA 94580
Sounds like positive news indeed!
According to yesterday’s Sacramento Bee, someone is planning to turn this into a performing arts center “like the Lincoln Center” in New York City.
Starting in 1974, it was not unusual to see “Deep Throat” & “Devil in Miss Jones” playing together. (I know of several Pussycat Theaters in the Los Angeles area doing that, one of which in Hollywood played the combo for approx 7 years straight!—One theater in San Francisco, the Art 1 at 55 Taylor Street played these two films together from 1974 into the early 1980’s on a continuous run. That run outlasted the run in Hollywood.)
This was tried back in the early 1980’s when Universal did this with a film musical version of The Pirates of Penzance (which had Linda Ronstadt as one of the leads)—This was a PPV (at a time when PPV was in its infancy). Financially, it did poorly both on PPV and at the theatrical box-office.
DirecTV is doing something right now (in co-operation with IFC) where they are showing films (arthouse fare) at the same time as theaters for $6.99 on PPV. They have shown 2 films thus far (one has Signourney Weaver). This just started this month.
I don’t know if this would succeed at $30-50 (at that price point, the only things that do well are boxing, pro wrestling, and UFC/MMA stuff—Concerts have drawn poorly at these prices)—I suspect that it would harm theatrical more than anything.
The “new” operator is West Wind Drive-Ins (which is owned by Syufy Enterprises—Syufy was the former owner of the Century Theaters chain prior to it being bought out by Cinemark). West Wind apparently now owns & operates the 6 drive-ins that Century Theaters had (including one in Sacramento & the Capitol Drive-In in San Jose). I guess Cinemark wasn’t interested in drive-ins when Century Theaters was bought by them.
Does this mean that only one screen will be operating? Still this is great news!
Daniel, you may also want to incorporate Murray’s later ventures into sexploitation (most notably the film “Shanty Tramp”, which became a popular drive-in hit & even played on the bottom half of a double bill with the Elia Kazan film “Baby Doll” when the latter was re-issued in 1969 with Jerry Gross' company Cinemation as distributor). Keep us posted as to when this film gets completed as well as festival screenings & DVD release.
In the just released DVD Reflections in Love (Carlos Tobalina, 1971), there is footage of the exterior & the lobby of this theater (you can see the ticket booth, part of the snack bar, and the staircase & door to the projection booth). In that part of the film, there is a re-enactment of a theater raid (for obscenity). The film also has footage of the Mayan & the Las Palmas theaters during this time.
I watched a DVD of the Carlos Tobalina film Reflections in Love last night. The film was made in 1971. There is footage of a crowd in front of this theater watching some fire dancers perform. The marquee was advertising “I Am Curious Tahiti”, which was another Tobalina film. Apparently Tobalina operated this as an (heterosexual) adult film house for a period of time in the early 1970’s. (Tobalina also operated the Mayan & the X 1 & 2 at this time, shots of those theaters also appear in Reflections in Love.) Anybody know how long Carlos Tobalina operated this theater?
A just released DVD called Reflections in Love (a film by Carlos Tobalina made in 1971, he operated the Mayan then) has lovely pictures of this theater’s exterior at night (including neon sign & marquee)—This would be when the Mayan was offering X-rated fare. There are also shots of the Las Palmas theater (another Tobalina house, marquee was showing “I Am Curious Tahiti”) with a crowd in front and some fire dancers performing in front of the theater. There is also filmed footage of the X 1 & 2 (exterior & lobby areas) showing a “filmed obscenity bust” which I suspect was a re-enactment. Tobalina himself does appear in the film being interviewed. The film is a cross of a “mondo” film with XXX marterial & some “educational” stuff.
I’ve been to both theaters—Their popcorn is quite good!
For those who live in the East Bay (Oakland, Contra Costa County), please support these fine theaters. It is depressing to read that business is suffering because of the big chains (& quite frankly, I prefer the projection quality of both theaters versus Century and Regal). Thanks!
I just cannot see Bollywood & XXX co-existing with one another. Most Bollywood goers don’t even like anything more sexually suggestive than a one-piece bathing suit, let alone any sort of nudity. (But reading the last post sounds like it would be temporary at best.)
The closest thing I recall like this is one three screen movie house in suburban Washington DC which had one screen showing arthouse films (like Landmark theaters does) and two screens of XXX fare (video projected)—I think this theater may have closed within the last year. (This would be the theater that was called the Shirley Duke twins in the 1970’s that ran The Opening of Misty Beethoven for an over two year continuous run. It did have a name change later & it became a three screener, but the current name escapes me at the moment.)
There are no “theater pubs” in San Francisco, but in the East Bay there are two. (both under same ownership) In Oakland, there’s the Parkway, which is celebrating its 10th year as “picture pub pizza”. And several months ago, the Cerrito theater reopened with the same set-up. Besides 2nd run pictures for $6, they also have monthly “cult film” showings and occasional revival fare (especially the Cerrito on the weekends). For the same price as a “small” popcorn, a medium soda, & a pack of candy at one of the overpriced “crapoplexes”, I can get a slice of (good) pepperoni pizza, a bowl of popcorn (more & fresher popcorn to boot) & a pint of microbrewery beer at the Cerrito. (not to mention better projection!)
Dan, I appreciate the information & have read a pretty fair amount of info about the Pussycat Theater chain over the years. And that theater outside SLO was called the Log Cabin (I still remember the ads in the Telegram-Tribune.)
Was there any consideration that the Fox would become an XXX theater? I don’t recall much opposition to the Oaks Drive-In showing XXX fare (despite the fact it was near Hwy 101), but I do recall Sheriff Whiting making statements in the Telegram-Tribune about the shutting down of the Log Cabin. (I wonder if the climate against porn in SLO county in the 1980’s had anything to do with business plans for the Fox.)
Also, there was a theater in Orcutt (Northern Santa Barbara County, just south of Santa Maria) that showed XXX fare. Was that a Walnut Properties house? Any info on Walnut is much appreciated.
The only theaters that played XXX fare in San Luis Obispo county were (all early to mid 1980’s):
Oaks Drive-In—Paso Robles Usually played XXX fare in the winter months (started in late 1970’s)
Central Coast Theater—Pismo Beach In the early 1980’s, they showed XXX fare at midnight on Fridays & Saturdays (I saw Cafe Flesh there, I also know they played Deep Throat and a few others) A local preacher started picketing the theater (& also went after stores that sold Playboy & Penthouse) and the midnight screenings of XXX fare stopped.
A building (a prior dance hall converted into a theater) just outside the San Luis Obispo city limits—Walnut Properties started showing foreign films here (non-sex) for a few weeks, then converted it into an XXX house that was raided by the Sheriff’s office within 2 weeks. They tried showing XXX fare again & the Sheriff raided the theater (within a week) & it wound up having its operating permit yanked & thus it went out of business.
I do not recall the Fox showing XXX fare.
The Something Weird version is not the full version of “Stop Pay TV”—The full version (which even has Dracula & Frankenstein) is on a DVD from Elite called “Drive-In Discs Vol 3: I Bury The Living/The Hand”. Worth checking out.
Just went on the market today for $1,999,999 Still used as “Victory Outreach” church. Sq ft of building is 10,376 # of parking spaces is 27. Listing agent is Benjamin Mohr at (925) 820-9911
Another fact to consider: The Vine is an independent theater & the new multiplex is a chain. Independent theaters have been disappearing over the years & even in the Bay Area, there are few left.
The “dinner & a movie” thing may work. Both the Parkway (Oakland) & the Cerrito (El Cerrito) do that now & seem to do okay with it.
Some interesting updates since that article (from above post) was published in 1978:
The T&D in Oakland was demolished shortly after this article was written. It spent its last years as a twin screened porn house.
The Fox Oakland is undergoing restoration.
The Chabot in Castro Valley is operated by a small company called Cinelux. One of the few single-screeners left in the East Bay, it shows first-run fare.
The Grand Lake is still open as a 4-screener, showing first-run films.
The Paramount has a lot of live concerts & shows an occasional classic film.
The Showcase I & II in Fremont, after this article, became a disco for a while. It was eventually torn down & now a multi-story office building sits on the site.
Excellent news! The Lees have won the fight to keep the theater! Acoording to today’s SF Chronicle, the church who owned the building agreed in mediation back in July to sell the property to the owners of the 4-Star, Frank & Lida Lee. They had 150 days to assemble the financing for the $1.45 million purchase price. On Wednedsay, Frank Lee said that they had beaten that deadline by a week and that the deal has cleared escrow & was finalized on Monday. Lee does plan to do some “long-planned renovations”. According to the attorney for the church (previous building owner), “With all the adverse publicity & politics, it would have been an uphill battle to build their church, so they bit the bullet & sold it, at an overall loss, to the Lees.” The article did mention that the Lees had enlisted the help of the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation.
Or to add on the above comment: Sounds to me that they had to move locations because of being raided perhaps. (Being a Bible Best state, this would not suprise me in the least.) Get raided & forced to shut up shop, then move to a new location until it happens again.