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A horrific side note to this theatre: In the early 90’s, a long term janitor for the theatre, Lewis Lent, was convicted of murdering a twelve year old boy (whom he had allegedly brought to the theatre, after hours, on several occassions) and suspected of being involved in several other abductions.
The projection booth and food storage room are accessed from the building’s exterior, via a stairway in the courtyard (i.e. one has to go outside to access these areas). Perhaps, the most unique feature of this theatre is what could very well be the most expensive view of any theatre in existance; the theatre faces Laguna Beach’s main beach. The box office, concession stand, and projection booth balcony all have clear views of the beach/ocean/historic life guard tower.
The theatre’s interior is rather plain, but well maintained. Unfortunately, the twining of the theatre resulted in significant sound bleed through; especially from the left theatre, which is equiped with DTS.
I work for the current operator and was the GM for this theatre’s relaunch. The signage Stuart spoke of, similar to a child’s “Light Brite” toy (in reverse), is still partially intact. While no longer used and covered over, we ran across the remnants when we were setting up the current light box signage. It must have been something memorable in it’s day, as numerous locals spoke of the old sign.
Fortunately, the Woodbridge has found a new life as a discount theatre. After years of languishing in the shadow of nearby “modern” theatres, the Woodbridge has experienced quite the rebirth and regularly experiences capacity crowds (it does some impressive attendance for a neighborhood five plex).
Good idea to broaden the offerings and become a true entertainment destination. However, it sounds like IPic might be targeting too narrow a market. Additionally, the smaller auditoriums lead me to wonder if the end product will be all that appealing; i.e. there will be more options, but they will be scaled down to the point where none are competitive with full scale counterparts.
The theatre is currently (10/06) undergong some repairs from an afterhours fire in one of the small auditoriums and should reopen shortly.
Picture Show Entertainment has scheduled a 10/20/06 opening for the theatre. The second concession stand has been torn out and the area has been converted in to a rental/party room. They’ve also replaced the auditorium wall coverings, replaced projection/sound equipment, cleaned the complex, and fixed minor cosmetic issues.
The theatre was part of a large redevelopment on the site of the former City shopping plaza (which once housed a UA). While the Block 30 went on to be extremely successful, it actually opened to modest business, as the theatre was completed well before the other businesses, forcing patrons to venture through a construction site in order to acess the theatre.
Exemplifying the concept that “location is everything” the theatre has thrived more off the highly popular outdoor mall complex than what it offers as a cinema destination. Haven been built during a more budget concious phase, that emerged shortly after the intial megaplex boom, the Block 30 is standard late 90’s AMC in design and offers nothing particularly unique, despite it’s long standing flagship status.
During construction and opening, the Block was tied in to the former AMC Mainplace 6; officing out of the theatre and maintaining joint management for a time.
This theatre is currently run as a discount house by Starplex Cinemas.
This theatre has been purchased by Starplex Cinemas and, as of 5/26/06, is operated as a discount house.
I’m sure there is more behind the story. If it wasn’t brought on by a corporate visit or audit, perhaps it was an issue that came up through another employee/potential employee (ie. someone else was let go or not hired, due to a tattoo, and a parity issue was raised). Then again, the tattoo might have been used as an excuse (ie. there might have been another issue and the tattoo policy provided a seemingly easy way out). In any case, it was obviously handled poorly, but I suspect there was more involved than just cracking down on some old man.
I wouldn’t exactly lump Harkins in with the Regal Entertainment and AMC mega conglomerates. Harkins is still a family owned, regional chain, that tends to break the “McMegaplex” approach of the big two.
Their Cine Capri concept is a refreshing return to the big experience of movie going. While hardly comparable to the classic movie palaces we all love, it’s a nice balance of feasible business model and grand experience (ie. making the best of today’s business climate).
The Vista theatre is basically a scaled down version of the Krikorian Buena Park 18. The exteriors are different, but the interior design/layout/decor of the Vista Theatre is almost exactly like Buena Park, just on a smaller scale.
An oddity of this theatre: for reasons that escaped everyone, a door, that leads nowhere, was installed in the building. As an inside joke, the opening gm had a plaque placed on the door that read George’s (as in owner George Krikorian) office.
Interstate is no longer associated with Cinemark. The company broke off, as a seperate entity, and later merged with Starplex Cinemas.
Another thing to remember in all this is that you will need to hire someone to properly install the equipment (ie. a booth tech). Additionally, all projection equipment requires regular maintenance/repairs and used equipment often entails further expenses/effort to maintain. Basically, in addition to purchasing the equipment and product, there are many other expenses to consider.
As alluded to previously, you’d be far better off having the theme being an annual or semi annual occurance, rather than a day to day thing. A weekly, monthly, or seasonal theme showing would also allow you to develope an “event” atmosphere that would draw larger crowds. I once worked at a theatre that held a yearly horror fest in October. They ran standard fair throughout the year, but devoted the last Saturday of October to a horror theme. In addition to showing horror films, the theatre was decorated accordingly and there were contests/games/prizes. Being a special event, there was always a pretty good turn out. This same theatre had tried a weekly Saturday horror/sci-fi late night showing, but it never pulled in a sizable audience with any regularity.
I went to a couple of Saturday kids' matinees at this theatre when it was known as the Paris. I recall there being a short hallway, leading to a concession stand and waiting area, that were seperated from the theatre by curtain covered doorways. The theatre itself was square in shape, with a relatively high ceiling, and wood floors. At that time, the theatre was kept unusually dark; perhaps, to hide the building’s poor condition.
Years later, I attended a play at this location, when it was the Berkshire Public Theatre. The interior had been renovated by then and appeared to be in good shape. However, from more recent pictures, it appears the venue fell back in to disrepair rather quickly.
Throughout it’s various incarnations, the building’s purpose/name was advertised via a second story wall mural that often revieled previous tenants, as the paint began to fade and chip.
It is currently operated by Starplex Cinemas/Interstate. The two companies merged a little over a year ago; officially, the Starplex name is used, but the signage probably won’t be changed.
I believe this theatre was originally a Cinemark. In addition to the theatre’s decor being in the Cinemark style, Interstate used to be a subdivision of Cinemark. Basically, Interstate was Cinemark’s discount theatre branch. After Cinemark was sold, Interstate broke off as a seperate company and later merged with Starplex.
To fully clarify the property’s second theatre (which is fully profiled, as “Movies 7”, on this site). Krikorian Premiere Theatres built a 7 plex on the opposite end of the property in 93'. It was sold to Regal in 96', closed in 03', and reopened as a discount house by Interstate (now Starplex Cinemas) about a year later. The current discount format has been quite successful.
In the early 80’s, this theatre was run by the same people who ran the Cinema Center and carried films that had bombed at their primary location. At that time, I believe it went by another name, not the Inn Cinema, but I could be wrong (memories from when I was 10 or 11 years old). It was a twin plex with extremely small “auditoriums”, each seating under 100. Looking much like a retail store that had been converted to a cinema, the auditorums had level floors and the lobby was about the size of a restroom. The theatre was located, in what was basically the corner of the basement, across from the then “Branding Iron” restraunt/lounge. I recall the decor being rather dark, perhaps, black/gold. A free standing marquee was located adjascent to South Street and stood long after the theatre had closed. If memory serves me, this theatre closed circa 82'/83'.
I remember the Showplace being far less ornate than the other North Street movie palaces. Almost plain, the exterior was a non descript white box and the interior had 60s/70s decore (I seem to recall a red and/or gold color sceme). Also, unlike it’s sister North Street theatres, the auditorium was somewhat narrow and long in dimensions. I do remember watching “ET”, with a sold out audience, at the Showplace, but this was probably the theatre’s “last hurrah”. If memory serves me it closed a few years before the Capital and Palace; both of which had been struggling even when the Showplace was still pulling in an audience. I believe the roof had collapsed prior to it being demolished.
Some random theatre information:
The building is constructed in a typical megaplex T shape, with the four large auditoriums off the lobby and remaining theatres down two hallways. The projection booth is broken in to three areas, separated by the â€œSkybar Loungeâ€. A large room is located at the end of each first floor hallway, one has been converted to a birthday party/event rental room, the other was left unfinished and used for concession storage. A surprisingly small office and employee locker area are located on either side of the expansive womenâ€™s restroom.
The four largest auditoriums, 450 seats each, are equipped with Klipsch KMX 4-T grand speakers and feature both Dolby Digital and SDDS capability.
The womenâ€™s restroom is probably one of the largest one could hope to find. Located directly behind the concession area, it runs the width of the lobby and hosts a mind-boggling number of stalls that require a full time attendant on weekends.
A cafe and customer service booth were planned for either side of the lobby, but never moved beyond the planning stage.
The enormous artwork panels that line the buildingâ€™s exterior all feature the artist (bearded man in a knit cap) and his friends. One also features the general manager of Krikorianâ€™s Monrovia location.
The theatre opened with 133 staff members, twelve managers, seven projectionists, four supervisors, and two restroom attendants.
Buena Park’s Sky Bar was basically doomed from the start. The four large auditoriums have upper level exit doors in to the space (making it nearly impossible to control access), primary booth access is through the area, and there is only a closet available for storage. A neon sign, advertising the bar, was installed and there were some half hearted attempts to come up with design concepts, but I never felt as if the idea was ever truly serious. We were constantly told of proposed opening dates to tell customers, but these dates always passed and there wasn’t so much as an application for a liquor license filed.
There were numerous “high end” concepts that weren’t realistic or well thought out at Buena Park. There was a “mobile” concession stand built to service the anticipated customer overflow; idea being to roll it out and plug it in to one of the hallway network outlets or skybar outlet. However, the unit was built out of the same materials as the concessionstand (including stone countrtop) which made the “mobile” stand far from mobile. There ended up being no need for it, as the main stand was easily capable of handling business. Then, there were the rooftop spotlights, xenon powered and shooting beams a reported seven miles in to the sky. If only the theatre wasn’t located in heavily populated, and well lit, Buena Park, they might actually have been effective before midnight.
The theatre was definitely a great concept and a major step up from the standard megaplex, but there was a failure to consider many issues of reality in creating this dream theatre. Perhaps, the biggest issue being the mall.
In fairness to George Krikorian and company, the mall made a lot of promises that never materialized. There was supposed to be a total transformation and a number of big name businesses were alleged to be lined up. It turned out the mall was hoping the theare would attract these businesses. But, of course, the theatre’s true success was dependant on the mall having more to offer.
Blood was evicted from his Irvine location last Spring and recently vacated the Brea theatre (only the Orange and Mainplace theatres remain in the chain). So, I don’t think his chain has been doing all that well.
I briefly worked at Mainplace and attended numerous management training classes in the conference room when AMC ran the theatre. Even when attendance fell to pathetically low levels (occassionally less than twenty people on weekdays), during it’s final AMC years, the theatre was always kept up and run well. I find it quite sad that the theatre has been allowed to sink to it’s current state, but hardly surprising. Without AMC’s deep pockets, there is no realistic way to keep this theatre up; Captain Blood simply doesn’t have the financial means or ticket sales to do so. The location is terrible, as patrons are forced to walk through the mall, searching for a small box office and hidden food court escalator; features that are made all the worse due to the mall being closed during peak movie going hours (who wants to walk through an empty, darkened mall?). Had the theatre been built wih exterior mall access, I believe it would have faired far better.
I suggest you pick up some of the trade magazines (you can find web links on this site), research, and shop around. There are numerous booking services out there and finding the one that matches your needs is key. You should also try contacting independant theatres around the country; I’m sure there will be a few independant operators that will be willing to share advice and suggestions. The last thing you want to do is enter the industry blindly.