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Opened in 1972 as a first run theatre, converted to art/independent/revival in the 80’s. Formerly an Edwards Theatre, later as part of Regal Entertainment Group, the property is located directly across the street from South Coast Plaza (facing Nordstroms). The theatre was allowed to fall in to disrepair, under REG, and closed in January 2007. Regency Theatres picked up the lease, remodeled, and reopened the theatre in March 2007.
The theatre has a no frills, purely functional, layout. A large auditorium (formely 500+ seats, but slightly less after the remodel) on one side, two smaller auditoriums on the other. The small lobby is divided by a peninsula style concession stand, that doubles as the venue’s box office. Following the remodel, lounge furniture was added to the lobby.
A rather standard, 80’s era, mall multiplex. At one time it was the “latest and greatest” (along with the mall), driving older competition under. Then, after trends changed towards the megaplex (of which Amarillo currently has two), the Westgate was forced in to becomming a second run theatre.
The theatre is still open and looks about the same as it did under Laemmle. Regency seems to be operating it as a second run art house.
This theatre is located in the shell of a former retail department store; as a result, the venue is divided up on different floor levels (1-6 and 7-16), accessed via escalators, with seperate concession stands for each level. A basement level exists under the complex, but the huge space was left unfinished (ceilings too low for auditorium use, theatre exclusive access limitting any other use); a caged off theatre storage area stands as the floor’s sole occupant.
I recently stopped by the theatre to take a few pictures before it’s pending demolition. Even in it’s decaying state, the theatre provides some character to the area. The pealing blue paint, dated hanging sphere light fixtures, and nautical themed signage bring to mind a time when Orange County coastal communities reveled in their off beat nature. Unfortunately, I’m sure the site’s new structure will follow right along with the coast’s homogenization (i.e. yet another tan stucco and glass building with boutique retail on the first floor and offices on the upper levels). Sure, a lot more money will be made with the new building, but the community will lose another bit of the atmosphere that drew them to the area in the first place.
Having said that, I don’t see how anyone could have made a go of this venue in it’s current configuration/state. Beyond the economics of running a single screen, with literally no parking, in a high rent area, the theatre is (was) in need of major renovation. Short of a party, with very deep pockets, taking it on as a gift to the community, there was no way the Port was ever going to be a feasible project. Sad, but true. If only the unique architecture (at least the building face) could be salvaged for the new property, but I definitely wouldn’t hold out the hope anyone would care enough to consider that.
The Puente 6 and 4 were the starting points for a “who’s who” of west coast AMC “names”. Amoung these were the Dashwood sisters, who would work their way from Puente box cashiers to industry executives; one is now COO of Pacific Theatres, the other is in charge of Lucas Films' THX division. Back in the days of AMC’s division system (now defunct), Puente alumni were a dominant presence among West Division upper management/executives.
This theatre is a former Cinemark that was picked up by Starplex Cinemas, in 06', as part of a package deal that included two additional theatres, in Hilliard, OH and Lexington, KY (both now converted to Movie Tavern venues).
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.