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bfole… you should post your comments at the El Rey Theatre section at /theaters/10834/
Seems that people are only recalling the XXX days and after.
AT the Festival I remember watching “Blazing Saddles” and laughing my head off. Also remember watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and getting a lot of dirty looks when I roared with laughter.
Also another cool thing I remember was the marquee streetside. It was a rotating metal cage about 8 feet long (think of a thick log being rolled around) with 5 panels that had lots of 2" holes in it. Inside the cage were lamps. We then had a bunch of black plastic plugs to fill the holes that should not light up. And voila! The oddest lit signage you might come across. It didn’t work when I transferred there – and I think the staff called it my folly in that I constantly tried to get it to work!
Not as cool as the black out signs in Westwood Village but rather unique.
Yeah – last time I was in the area it looked like Walnut Creek had grown up to become quite the financial center.
I have lost touch with all of the folks I knew there glad you are still around.
I was the manager briefly at South Coast Plaza II (a.k.a. Theatre III) between 1982 – 1983.
The most successful film I screened there was the regional premiere of “Ghandi” in 70 mm.
We revived the concept of sending ‘candy sellers’ into the auditorium during the intermission (another forgotten relic) and would quickly sell out tubs of popcorn and large drinks.
I also found some cool Indian music that we played between screenings and during the intermission. People were always asking what the album was called (now I wish I would remember).
The rerelease of Empite Strikes Back also did well.
And Bill Kallay – ditto – nice photos and site!
I managed this theatre as “Edward’s Woodbridge 5 Cinemas” in the early 1980s for a short while.
Rumor had it that Drew Barrymore showed up when we screened “E.T.”.
The theatre seemed to do well and I am surprised to hear about Edwards Cinemas going bankrupt.
One fond memory were the coin operated video machines along the lobby wall which was a gold mine for the company. I remember spending way too much time playing ‘Defender’.
I used to be a lighting designer for the Oakland Metropolitan Ballet Theater Company in the late 1970’s which performed at this theater. At the time it was also a venue for showing films from India. It had a fairly large seating capacity of around 500 seats.
The stage had an old resistance type lighting dimmer system as well as a full ‘fly gallery’ that used sand bag counter weights.
Vern Nerden was the Artistic Director of the company and created some of the finest original ballets I have ever seen.
Details of the building can also be found from a City of Oakland Planning Comission report here: View link
Built in 1927-28 by the Womenâ€™s City Club of Oakland and the East Bay
Designed by the firm of (Chester) Miller & (Carl I.) Warnecke
In 1948 it became a Moose Lodge and then a residential hotel.
In the 1970’s I knew this facility as the Metropolitan Theater. I remember that we stored costumes, props and sets in rooms in the building.
The projection booth was unusually large.
The lobby was also large but without a formal box office or way to strictly manage paying audience attendees.
I was the manager for a few years in the late 1970’s.
Renaissance Rialto ran the theatre as an art for for the last few years where we would typically run double features changing the billing each day. The showings were typically sparsely attended but appreciated by the eclectic crowd.
We also ran the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fridays and Saturdays at midnight and often sold out.
We worked hard to give the place a face lift including hand painting a lot of the architectural interior details in gold paint with a glossy black contrast. The interior was mostly a brick red.
We had a pair of old Motiograph carbon arc projectors (model K – I think) with 20 minute reels that kept our projectionists busy – eventually the head projectionist, Ross, installed a couple 60 minute extension arms. This seemed like a bit of a coin toss to me – since most films only showed once so the trouble to splice three reels into one seemed hardly worth the trouble.
This building was part of the old Walnut Creek when people still asked ‘where have all the walnuts gone?’ and at a time when the Civic Arts Theater was still running in an old converted walnut warehouse.