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It’s great to see all these pictures posted! Seeing these brought
up a memory I had from when I worked there in the early and mid 80’s.
If you look closely at the photos from various era’s, you’ll notice
that the Vista has had several different rooflines over the years.
The original facade had a very ornate plaster relief along the
roofline, and this was lined and highlighted with neon, which must
have looked beautiful at night! If you look at the 80’s pictures,
this has been mostly sheared off, leaving an asymmetrical profile,
and no neon. The photos from present day show a sort of reconstruction of the original roofline, but sans neon.
I was outdoors with the manager one day, and he told me how the
original facade had been damaged in an earthquake, knocking
the ornate plasterwork down, and shattering the neon.
Does anyone have any photos of this theater, especially
the lobby and auditoriums before it was multiplexed? If
you do, please send me a message. I’d appreciate it!
“The Omen” had it’s first run engagement at this
theater, as well as “Alien” in 1979, in 70mm.
Yes, the Dome had Cinema Digital Sound installed in the early 90’s, and what a great system that was! I saw “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” there in 70mm and CDS. This was an expensive format, and faded with the advent of the much cheaper Dolby Digital and DTS formats.
But Cinema Digital Sound was MUCH higher quality, the best sound I’ve ever heard in a movie theater, ever.
I’d like to hear about it too. When did it take place?
I was just in Los Angeles this past weekend and can confirm that,
indeed the Century Plaza is history. Not only the movie theater,
but the Shubert also. In fact, the entire ABC Entertainment Center
is nothing but a big hole in the ground! Anyone have a clue what
will be taking it’s place?
I don’t KNOW if the Rialto is haunted or not. I never heard
any specific “lore” or anything. But I’ve been there all alone
at 3 in the morning, and have had some pretty freaky feelings.
But why not? An empty, somewhat decaying movie palace in the dead
of night? I’m surprised Stephen King hasn’t set one of his novels
in such a place.
Here is a link to some trivia about Sensurround and “Earthquake”.
Some of the facts are extremely dubious and dippy, but there’s a
photo of the installation of the speakers taking place at the Chinese.
After Sensurround fell from popularity in the late seventies, Universal
shut down development and sold off the equipment. The Sensurround horns
became highly sought after by Home Theater buffs (the real kind that have
projectors in their houses).
A couple years ago, the Directors Guild had a retrospective on great movie
sound. They painstakingly reconstructed a Sensurround system from parts they
found wherever they could. Universal supplied a 4-track mag stereo Sensurround
print of “Earthquake”, and the show was an absolute sold-out event!
Still, the whole thing was FUN.
I worked as projectionist at the Vista from ‘82 to about '84 or 5, during the Landmark years. They really struggled to find the right way to program that place, and we never did very good business. But that was (and still is) a fun place to see a movie. We had a brand new, beautiful silver screen which gave an ultra-bright, clear picture. I had a great time working there, the staff was terrific and we were all good friends. I’m thrilled to see that the Vista has found it’s true niche as a friendly neighborhood first-run house with great picture and sound! But if you’re planning to go and see the latest new blockbuster du jour, see it fast! They only show a film for a week or two.
Have to comment on the AMC Rosemead 4-plex. You’re right. Nothing special. But as an impressionable kid, I went over and over again to see “The Poseidon Adventure” here (they ran it seemingly forever).This movie kindled in me a lifelong love of the movies, and I now work in the industry. I can attribute this interest directly to all those afternoons spent watching that model ship roll over again and again. Sometimes big things happen in the most unlikely of places!
My goodness, joe!! How did you remember all that detail from one visit?? I’ve been there numerous times, and I couldn’t recall it that well! But you’re absolutely correct on all points- what a rush down memory lane I had reading your post! My parents took me to see “The Poseidon Adventure” and we were a little late, missing the titles. When we walked in I could see the light from the screen on hundreds of faces and I remember thinking they’re facing the wrong way! One more detail- do you remember that mosaic tiled wall in the lobby? Now that I think of it, that was the back of the wall that held the screen.
They WERE terrible, but when you’re a kid, you didn’t care. It was
THE MOVIES!! I remember when “Grease” played there! And “The Shining”. “Coma”. “King Kong”…..
I haven’t been to the new wing of the mall, but a friend went and said it was truly beautiful architecture!! A mall?!?! Apparently so!
Yes, the “Chinese 6” is a seperate structure adjacent to the original, along with a shopping center. The original auditorium is intact, but lost a few rows of seats downstairs when the snack bar was opened up and extended back.
I haven’t been to the Avco in many years. Sorry to hear the main auditorium was split up. I saw “Return of the Jedi” in ‘83, when they ran the very first THX trailer. The interior layout of this place was always a liitle confusing. They would line people up and let them in via the side doors or something. You went down these halls and climbed stairs (or downstairs, don’t remember) but in a large crowd I always felt in danger of getting lost in there! They always put on a great show, though! “Die Hard” and “The Abyss” were state of the art presentation.
When the Chinese was a single screen theater, they also had this really great tradition of painting the poster art for the film playing on the side exterior wall of the theater. These were HUGE and always well done! The “Superman” S, the “Earthquake” poster art, and the “Star Wars” logo come to mind. You can sometimes find photos that show this wall art. Very cool!
The first film I ever saw at the Chinese was “Earthquake” in ‘74, and I’ll never forget it. They had strung fishnets all across the ornate platerwork on the ceiling. This caused a lot of nervous chatter and laughter among the audience before the movie started. I’ll never forget the SENSURROUND announcement before the movie started. This loud male voice booms out “ATTENTION!!” and everyone jumped! Since then, I’ve seen countless films there, always a great show. The adjecent twin theaters were also really good. Picture and sound were state of the art. I saw “Gremlins”, “Ghostbusters” and “Dune” there.
This place has memories for me because I saw “Star Wars” here for the very first time, during it’s brief, controversial move-over engagement. The 70mm six-track Dolby Stereo sound was impressive. In 1982, “Blade Runner” opened here, also in 70mm.
Does anyone remember when “Evita” premiered at the Dome? I was shocked when I walked in and saw that they had installed a FLAT screen and masking in front of the normal huge curved screen! Does anyone have the story on why they did that for this one film? weird. I’m glad they didn’t leave it like this. My first trip to the Dome was in the early 70’s when my dad took me to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 70mm 6-track stereo. I’ll never forget it.
Boy, I guess this means I’m truly getting older. I remember going to the GCC four-plex umpteen times when I was a kid. “Tommy”, “Logan’s Run”, “Phantom of the Paradise” et al.
I remember the old Temple Theatre (Las Tunas and Rosemead) very well. I grew up in TC, and all the neighborhood kids would get together and go to the kiddie matinees they had. I saw “Love Bug” and “Incredible Mr. Limpet” there.
Of course I remember “Bart”!! I worked as projectionist at the Rialto from ‘81 to'84. I also remember the notorious “John Waters” no-smoking trailer. Hilarious! About working there….God, ALL THOSE STAIRS!! We were a revival house at the time (4-5 different double features a week) and lugging those heavy cans up from the lobby is indelibly burned into my memory. We had also snipped 10 or 15 different 20th Century-Fox logos off other films, and ran them all before “Rocky Horror”. And a REALLY early Devo music video…
This theater will always have a warm place in my heart. I would take the bus from the San Gabriel valley (too young to drive) all the way out to the Century Plaza to see “Star Wars”. They ran it in 70mm for what seemed like eternity. I saw it there in the main auditorium at least 10 times! Even TRAILERS were “an event” there! The ones that stick out were the 70mm trailer for “Jaws 2”, and “Best Little Whorehouse”. I was very sad to hear it’s gone. Before it was 4-lexed, this was hands-down the best show in L.A., and an important piece of my history.