Showing 11 comments
Speaking of Rhonda Fleming, every so often Ted Mann (the big shot who owned the chain) would come in with his wife Rhonda (who most of us young kids had no idea who she was) and hand his Cadillac keys to the manager. The manager would have to go park his car in the mall lot.
@ajimenez, I could draw you a pic, no actual photos. When you walked down the hallway, they were all on the right with recessed entrance doors and slight sideways hallways (to protect from light from the long main hallway).
There was one usher who would put the garbage can at the bottom of the autidorium and throw half-full sodas at it while cleaning up during the intermissions. He hit the screen on “accident” more than once.
Amazing theatre and presentation, sitting in the middle of a parking lot. I saw Star Wars opening day, first show here and the line was all around the entire (not small) building. Every other time after that when I was in there, it was mostly empty. 900 seats is a lot to keep filled.
I remember waiting in line for Man Who Fell To Earth outside and that fountain out front in the (partially covered) alcove over to the left (see vintage picture).
Used to go to this theatre a lot. 4 screens in one theatre, mind-blowing! Everyone ended up at Fenton’s for ice cream down the strip mall after the films.
Saw Rocky Horror on opening weekend and it was dead, no crowd (and no dancing yet). Saw Piranha and the girl in the booth warned me “no refunds”. Apparently everyone was complaining. Saw Sorcerer with like 2 other people in there. I remember Young Frankenstein playing here for months and we went back 3 or 4 times that winter. Saw Last Temptation of Christ and there were picketeers outside. Also used to have studio previews. Saw Tunnelvision snuck, with mucky-mucks in the lobby. Groove Tube, Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House all played here. Very much a college crowd place (UCSD nearby).
This was our local drive-in. Great location right off the freeway (and by Garnet and Mission Bay Drive). Next to a hill, there were houses up top there I figured could see the films down below. Surrounded by tall trees so it was quite isolated.
Historical footnote— I saw Exorcist II opening night in 1977 with the “Burton lives” ending and generally hated it, then read later they’d swapped the last reel out to change the ending, but it was too late to go back by that time (movie was long gone).
I used to go to this theatre a lot — more eclectic selection in the mid-late 70s than the Ken and other rep houses (and not affiliated with Landmark, a 3 (?) screen operation at the time (LA, San Diego, and Berkeley I believe).
Showed their share of Bergman, Fellini, Russell, etc and also avant-garde, think my first Jodorowsky was here. Inserts I remember, Kucher, and the animation festivals that were popular at the time. They had a full-page calendar printed every quarter like the Ken, 2-color, and some time in the late 70s they had an announcement across the bottom they were reluctantly going to program porn 6 months out of the year (I seem to remember it was winter, from Oct to March?) which would pay for the other 6 months of rep, which the owner wanted to keep doing but couldn’t afford otherwise. I learned then porn knows no season (not that winter is that harsh in Pacific Beach). Lots of “art” theatres at the time in San Diego were going the porn route: Academy, Capri, etc.
Classic narrow long lobby as I remember and it was a little shabby around the edges. No balcony. What I wouldn’t give to have one of those old calendars to frame on my wall.
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.