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Picture from www.modernsandiego.com A beautiful 1960s modern building.
Zardoz was the speed of prevailing traffic at the time, hippy John Boorman, heady futuristic-yet-reactionary sf, and great English-style set design out of Ken Russell and back-to-the-Earth rhetoric. Would be a great double bill with the original Rollerball. Connery and Charlotte Rampling both half-naked, can’t be all bad!
AKA UTC 6. Small but long “L” shaped construction, lobby went along this way, then theatres along a narrow hall to the right. Office was upstairs on 2nd floor and open so the mgrs could look down on lobby. All theatres were the same size, about 197 seats (with 2 wheelchairs, this still was under 200 which then was a legal limit to prevent needing a 3rd exit door?) along the hallway. Theatre was at edge of the mall by the parking. Always sold out 100% on Fri and Sat nights when I worked there (late ‘70s) and they would schedule busy/new movies (such as Moonraker) first, then let the overflow fill each increasingly older film next. The ushers would try to rig the pinball machines with a quarter on a string. Now converted to a Sports Chalet. (see pic: http://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/2784.html))
I remember seeing a 24-hour marathon on New Year’s Eve of science fiction films here. It included the Spencer Tracy Jekyll and Hyde, a Planet of the Apes film, Metropolis, Zardoz, etc. Free popcorn for those who stayed the night (started at 5 pm or so on 12/31). Around 4am Zardoz started and I was not sure the film or me was going crazy. Great book store with avant-garde as well as french film books in stock in front.
Indeed the Academy built in 1925. Apparently taken over by MGM theatres. Marquee suggests it is now a church. In the late 70s they had porn during the days and then a vibrant midnight series on weekends that showed cult films, shorts and animation (Fantastic Planet, etc), art films, Devo, etc. pulled from the college crowd, lots of midnight series in San Diego around this time before video and rep houses went away.
The gap in early 1979 during the run of “Superman” was due to a bad storm that flooded the theatre and much of the west end of Mission Valley. I knew someone who worked at the theatre and it was selling out every show (3 a day I think) and the storm put the (raked and deep) auditorium under 10 feet of water. They had to dry out the seats, carpet, etc. and the manager was upset. “Superman” must have moved over someplace (not the Valley Circle, maybe one of the other Manns (Grossmont?) but I can’t remember.
My friend used to sit in the theatre and stop people from smoking, a policy that was only just beginning to be enforced in theatres.