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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).
Heavily influenced by Bob Clark’s “Black Christmas” (74'); an equally well crafted horror film that hasn’t recieved the wide-spread recognition it deserves (as with “Halloween”, “Black Christmas” was butchered in a semi recent reworking/remake).
The theatre opened on 9/17/1999.
Back in the mid 90’s, AMC announced they were going to build a 24 screen theatre on this property. However, by 1997, AMC had pulled out of the deal and Regal stepped in. This was Regal’s third build in the county, preceeded by La Habra 16 and Garden Grove 16 (also opened in 1999). Regal had initially entered Southern California via the purchase of Krikorian Theatres' original chain, in 1996.
Prior to the opening, Edwards had threatened to build a 16 screen theatre across the toll road from the Regal site. After scrapping that plan, Edwards breifly entered in to buy out talks for the theatre, but that too fell through. Of course, within a few years Edwards filed for bankrupcy and the two companies fell under the REG banner.
This Halloween season (08'), the theatre is being utilized for a temporary, “Saw” themed, walk-through horror attraction.
Standard mid 80’s to early 90’s era Edwards multiplex layout, with 90’s era decorating flurishes. However, unlike most of it’s era peers, the RSM6 has managed to remain in “mint” condition; walk in to the theatre today and you are seeing the venue much as it was on opening day.
While this theatre was once an area hot spot, with no direct competition, it has lost much of it’s customer base to the Foothill Ranch 22. Currently (08'), operating with a skeleton staff and reduced weekday show schedule, one must speculate that this theatre’s days are numbered within the Regal Entertainment Group fold.
The theatre’s total sating was 1,150.
Two large auditoriums: 375 each
Two small auditoriums: 200 each
The original interior color scheme was red and gold.
AMC ran the theatre as a relatively successful discount house in it’s later years. It’s closing coresponded not only with the mall’s redevelopment, but also with AMC’s expansion of their Fullerton venue. The staff and management were offered positions at the Fullerton 20 (expansion opened a couple of weeks after the Orange Mall 6 closing), but only one individual accepted the offer.
I stopped by and checked out the demolition today (3/13). The South Coast Plaza theatre was already down to walls and framework, the interior a pile of rubble; it had already been somewhat stripped, prior to demolition (as mentioned in an earlier post). However, the Plaza III turned out to have been relatively intact prior to the demolition; poppers, coke towers, menu boaards, screen, speakers, seating, etc. had all been there. It was almost as if Edwards had closed one night and never returned. Seeing such an intact theatre being torn apart was extra sad.
As for a rundown of names/operators:
1979 – 2/7/80
Technically, it was a Mann until noon of the grand opening (2/7/80).
The theatre was initially planned/announced as a four plex; a fifth auditorium (house #1) was added shortly before construction began.
2/7/80 – ¼/01
Edwards Woodbridge Cinemas
3/27/01 – 3/29/05
Captain Blood’s Woodbridge Family 5 & Captain’s Woodbridge Family 5
At some point, the “Blood” appeared to have been dropped.
6/24/05 – Present
Starplex Woodbridge Movies 5, Starplex Woodbridge Dollar Movies 5, & Starplex Woodbridge 5
The specific name has varied slightly between media outlets and even within the company.
The “Dollar” moniker was temporarily utilized when the theatre transitioned from $2 & $3 ticket pricing to $1 & $1.50 pricing, in the fall of 2005.
The theatre is listed in General Cinemas' block add during the early 70’s. Around 1974, it begins to appear under the Century Cinema Circuit listing, as the Tustin Twin.
In a fortunate, last minute, twist, the Port now appears heading for a rebirth. According to the 1/26/08 Orange County Register, the property’s new owner, Fariborz Maseeh, plans on reopening the Port as a cinema.
The current operator, “The Movie Experience”, was formerly known as So Cal Cinemas and Sanborn Theatres. The chain has been around since 1918 and has operated a number of notable theatres. Owned by the Sanborn family, the chain was once a significant player in the southern California market, but appears to be on it’s “last legs” these days, with only five locations remaining.
The property is sandwiched between the 5 and 405, beside the “Y” merger of the two freeways. Back when it opened, there was a small retail courtyard in front of the theatre and a few office buildings in the immediate area (the most significant being the Western Digital building). The theatre was a gawdy beacon, who’s violet neon glow could be seen for miles in all directions. However, within a decade, the area was developed to near capacity and the theatre was virtually encapsulated.
Recently (12/07), I noticed that a set of retail “blocks” were being constructed on either side of the theatre’s main entrance (seperated from the theatre structure by a matter of a few feet), further smothering the building in developement. While the neon roof top is still visible from a distance, on site, one has to almost be at the front doors to see the theatre.
A once dramatic structure that has lost much of it’s visual impact in the name of progress.
This theatre recently (Fall 07') converted to digital, making it the second all digital venue in Orange County (“Cinema City”, formerly Sanborn/SoCal “Cinemapolis”, in Anaheim Hills, being the county’s first).
The four plex configuration resulted in the following seating capacity:
Aud#1 – 163
Aud#2 – 168
Aud#3 – 275
Aud#4 – 275
Total – 881
The two small auditoriums are accessed directly off of the lobby. The larger auditoriums are acccesed at the end of a hallway that runs between the two small auditoriums (formerly the center of the single screen auditorium). The small auditoriums have a traditional slope and are slightly V shaped. The large auditoriums slope slightly upwards, as they are located in what was once the front of the auditorium, but retain a more common rectagular shape. The auditorium decore is red/white/blue drapery and white-washed wood panneling. The flooring is bare concrete, with dark patterned carpeting running down the aisles.
Projection is divided in to two booths, linked by a catwalk that runs above the center hallway. Two neon arrow fixtures hang from the open catwalk, remnants from a previous incarnation (the theatre featured heavy use of indoor neon in the 90’s). The concession stand retains the post quading remodel look/structure (complete with glass bricks and a neon arrow). The current lobby/hallway decore consists of bare, lavender colored walls.
The large A frame signage, that stood in front of the theatre for 30 years, was removed in the early 90’s; the rooftop marquee was removed circa 2003. The current signage consists of a small branding lightbox above the entry and a marquee space on the property’s freestanding signage (above a listing of the property’s other tenants). One of the theatre’s original signs, directing patrons to a rear parking area, remains, but is partially covered with ivy.
I’ve been told some of the upstairs support areas still have UA logo carpeting (30+ year old carpet).
The 1930 remodel, in to the First National Trust Bank, was designed by the Walker and Eisen firm.
Sadly, much of this theatre’s interior is stripped down to the studs these days. While the windows have long been blacked out, I managed to sneak a peak at the lobby recently. Much of the ceiling is missing, the concession area is a skeleton, walls are stripped bare, and electrical conduit hangs loose everywhere. I’m guessing this stripped down state is left over from Edwards' pre bankrupcy remodel plans, as a heavy layer of dust suggests it’s been quite some time since anyone frequented the lobby.
The building is currently used as a youth ministry and has undergone heavy remodeling (bares little resemblance to it’s theatre days).
Tucked away, down a secluded side street, this once popular and pioneering southern Orange County cinema is basically forgotten as a theatre (few locals even remember the building to have once been a theatre).
The theatre is currently (9/07) being remodeled in to a live performance theater by the same ministry that operates the Curtain Call Dinner Theater in Santa Ana, CA. A banner hanging under the original theatre signage advertises “Biblical to Broadway” as the future programming.
Looking in the windows, it appeared they were conducting a major remodel on the venue.
I recently (9/07) went through the vacant Brea Plaza 5, here are some updates on the venue:
(From Captain Blood era)
Most of the interior was spray painted flat black and a few amatuer murals were placed around the building.
The original concesion stand was haphazzardly cut open in the center and a large peninsula was added. This poorly constructed addition consisted of exposed particle board and severly obstructed the tiny lobby.
Obviously, teenagers managed to break in and use the building as a hangout at some point, as there is a great deal of graffitti and discarded bottles/cigarrette butts throughout the venue.
Perhaps related to the teens, all interior glass has been broken, day-glo paint is splattered randomly on the walls, and left over equipment/booth materials have been strewn about the building.
The box office and concession cabinetry has been torn apart.
A seemingly functional automaticket machine still sits in the box office.
While a heavy duty cleanup and a little TLC could bring this venue back to life, it appears the landlord has basically forgotten about or written the theatre off. I’d like to think someone will step in an give this theatre a new lease on life (there are definite posibilities), but it seems more likely to sit empty for years and eventually be gutted for a warehouse or storage facility.
I believe this was the theatre once operated by the family of character actor Brion James. James' parents ran a theatre in Beaumont, when Brion was a child, sparking his interest in film/acting. Brion James was a prolific charater actor from the mid 70’s until his death in the late 90’s, usually playing the villian or heavy role in films/tv.
As of 8/07, the Tascosa Drive-In is still open (status needs to be updated to open/first run).
The venue still features the twin tower/marquee mentioned and shown in the photo link above (the towers are covered with corrugated steel sheets). However, the entry gates are now similar to the kind one would find in a livestock pen and feature large Texas medallions on each gate.
Outside of the unique entryway, the Tascosa Drive-In is rather bare bones. A tiny corrugated metal building, serving as projection booth and concession stand, stands in the center of an unpaved lot. The screen (I only noticed one, but another might have been on the opposite side) is a series of white pannels on a metal scaffolding. A small playground sits beneath the screen. The venue utilizes FM radio broadcast for sound, but retains carside poles (minus the speaker boxes).