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United Artists Communications maintained the master lease on the theatre throughout the Mitchell Brothers occupancy; subletting to the Mitchells for fifteen years and ultimately declining to renew with them, in 1990.
The theatre closed on June 30, 1990, with “The First Time,” “Hot Lips” and “The Devil in Miss Jones IV.”
The City of Santa Ana’s efforts to close this theatre, via legal means, were such that, for 11 years, a former LAPD vice officer was paid $30 an hour to attended every movie shown at the theater; watching the films, audiotaping dialogue, and taking notes, so a judge could review the films for the 47 obscenity cases filed during that period.
In 1987, after Santa Ana finally gave up on trying to close the theatre, the city paid the Mitchell Brothers $120,000 to remove the theatre’s marquee.
The Brookhurst is scheduled to reopen as “Brookhurst 4 Discount Cinemas” on July 3, 2009.
The El Toro opened on 11/23/84. The theatre was standard 80’s era Edwards in design; “open back” box office/cash control area, two story lobby, second floor restrooms, smallish concession stand, undersized support areas, etc.
General Cinema opened this theatre on 7/12/74, as the Saddleback 1-2-3. Edwards added the site to their chain in the late 70’s and opened the second triplex on 2/8/80. Located in El Toro for most of it’s run as a cinema (El Toro became Lake Forest in 1991), the theatre was joined by both the Edwards El Toro 5 and Edwards/Sanborn Laguna Hills Mall 3 in the 1980’s; resulting in three Edwards sites being located roughly a mile away from one another and a, then surprising, fourteen screens serving the area.
In early March of 2001, a mall water line broke, forcing the theatre to close for repairs. After about a week of being advertised as “reopening soon”, Edwards announced that they were shuttering the venue for good (the water damage had allowed the troubled chain to utilize an escape clause in their lease).
Even if this event had not taken place, I don’t imagine the theatre would have lasted much longer. By the time it closed, the theatre was in sad shape and devoid of customers. Typical of many older sites Edwards was operating at the time, the chain had completely neglected the theatre for years; they basically gave up on the Westminster Mall after opening the nearbye Westminster 10, in 92'.
Regency Theatres has officially signed on to reopen the Franciscan Plaza. The opening is slated for November 2009. Along with an extensive remodel, partially funded by a $450,000 loan from the city, a bar/lounge will be added to the second floor.
As for the flooding mentioned earlier, I believe you are thinking of another theatre (perhaps, the Laguna Beach South Coast). The Niguel was located well above sea level and not directly adjascent to the ocean (a large gated community has stood on the ocean side of PCH for quite some time). The Niguel’s flooding and water damage issues were the result of the theatre being built at the base of a hillside; i.e. drainage problems during heavy rains. While the theatre is long gone, Monarch Bay Plaza still stands, near the corner of Crown Valley and PCH.
The first “mystery theatre” picture, is the Santa Ana Theatre (also billed as the Santa Ana Electric Theatre), which was located on east 4th street. The theatre was operated by “Doc” Roberts (he’s the man standing on the far left hand side of the photo). The Santa Ana library dates the theatre opening/picture to 1908, while the City of Santa Ana lists 1906; in either case, this would make the Santa Ana/Electric Theatre the first commercial movie theatre in Orange County, predating the Temple Theatre (which has traditionally been billed as the first) by a year or two.
It was originally an AMC. Interstate/Starplex were the second tenants.
Starplex Cinemas sold this theatre. Effective 3/20/09, the theatre is operated by Elvis Cinemas.
This theatre was originally a Cinemark and was later sold to Interstate Theatres (which merged with Starplex Cinemas). As the name implies, the theatre is located near a livestock processing center.
Edwards took over the theatre in 1978.
The Fountain Valley Twin was opened by Loew’s on 12/24/71. The opening features were “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” and “T.R. Baskin”. General Cinemas took the theatre over in 1973.
A very modest strip mall cinema, that served as Stanton’s only movie theatre, until Edwards' Village Center 6 opened in the mid 80’s. Formerly part of the Loew’s chain, the Stanton Theatre’s sole moment of notoriety came in 1969, when the theatre was one of two Orange County venues (the other being Newport Beach’s Balboa Theatre) raided for showing “I am Curious, Yellow”. The seized films resulted in a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court. When the theatre was closed for remodeling in 1977, there was a permit stipulation, that no future x-rated or un rated films be shown, before the site was allowed to reopen.
After Edwards opened the Village Center 6, the, now independently owned, Stanton Theatre quickly fell out of favor with movie goers and turned to Indian films, with limited success. The theatre was closed for good by the mid 90’s and sat vacant for years. A frequent site for break ins, vandalism, and transient squatters, the theatre was damaged by a fire in the late 90’s. In early 2005, the entire strip mall was razed to make way for a new commercial development.
Joe Vogel posted: “Maybe Cecil is one of Harry’s sons, or perhaps a grandson”
I believe Cecil is (was?) Harry’s son, as an early 60’s news bit, about the opening of Anaheim’s Brookhurst Theatre (another Vinnicof Theatre), lists Vinnicof & Son Theatres as being operated by Harry and Cecil Vinnicof.
After being divided in to four screens, the Brookurst was operated by the folowing companies:
American Family Theatres 1992 – 1997
Globe Theatres 1998 – 2003
Interstate/Starplex Cinemas 2003 – 2006
While operated somewhat independently (as an “adults only” venue) for it’s first twenty or so years, the Loge became the Brookhurst Theatre’s fifth auditorium, following the larger theatre’s early 90’s quading. The Loge remained physically seperate from the Brookhurst, but the marquee, bookings, operations, etc. began to utilize the Loge as a traditional auditorium (dropping the luxury, “adults only” idea) during it’s final years.
According to the 4/15/68 Boxoffice Magazine, Cinemaland’s first manager was Harold Brislin, an individual who had formerly managed the Fox West Coast, in Santa Ana, and had been with the company for 33 years (at the time of Cinemaland’s opening).
According to the 4/24/61 Boxoffice Magazine, the Brookhurst Theatre was built for $300,000. The news piece also mentions that the opening manager was Jack Geller, “former acting school operator in Hollywood”.
Regency has a history of “soft openings”. I’m sure there will be proper signage, advertising, etc. shortly. In Southern California, the chain is well known for succeeding with theatres that others have given up on.
I have my doubts about any of the “big three” buying National Amusements outright. Each will obviously explore the matter, but the price tag (even at a “fire sale” level) is a bit much to take on right now. Even if one of them was able to secure the financing (difficult within the current economy), would they really want to add that much debt on to their books (especially Regal, which has been piling up some hefty debts)? I would more easily picture National Amusements breaking the chain up in to smaller packages and selling off to numerous parties.
According to 1925 L.A. Times advertisements, the theatre’s opening week included the following features:
Tom Mix in “Dick Turpin"
Dorothy Devore in "The Narrow Street"
Rin Tin Tin in "Tracked In The Snow Country”
The grand opening announcement lists 5/28/25 as the opening night and mentions that the Fullerton branch of Mary Louise’s Cafe & Tea Room of Los Angeles was the property’s secondary tenant.
Some factors to consider:
Back in the “golden age”, theatres operated with a much smaller staff; thus, there were fewer spots to fill and one could be more selective.
Prior to the 1950’s, movie theatres held a more prominant place in communities; thus, a theatre job would be viewed in a higher regard.
Also, the overal business model was geared more towards an “event” experience than mass consumption product; thus, theatre operators weren’t focused as much on efficiency, speed, and cost cutting, as modern theatre operators are.
There is no doubt the quality of theatre workers was much greater in the “golden age”. I’d dare to say they tended to be much better just a decade or so ago, than they presently are. Working at a theatre was once a well respected profession that offered decent career options. As such, you saw long term employees, who truly cared about their work. These days, due not only to the theatre industry, but also to modern economics, theatre staff positions are more part-time, seasonal, and short term in nature.
While this sort of thing apears to be a growing trend in the industry, be it partial usage of venues or entire theatres dedicated to the concept, I suspect AMC is simply trying to find a better way to utilize their “overbuilt” megaplexes. In today’s market, 30 plexes, many of the 20 plexes for that matter, aren’t cost effective and are often far more than needed in any given area. Rather than “mothballing” excess auditoriums, this idea provides them with a potential use (I know there has also been talk of turning some auditoriums in to party/meeting rental spaces).