Capri Theatre

1653 Willow Pass Road,
Concord, CA 94520

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Harvest Church (formerly Capri Theatre) Concord

The Capri Theatre was opened May 28, 1969 with Paul Newman in “Winning”. I believe this theatre was on the second floor of a two story building which has since become a church.

Contributed by Robert Merk

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

PatForan on September 18, 2005 at 12:34 pm

I, too, managed the Capri theatre from 1992 to 1994. By that time the Enea family had taken it over. After obtaining the Capri, they kept the single screen and reopened it in 1990. It closed in 1991 when audiences dwindled down to literally two people per night. The Eneas split the huge auditorium in half widthwise and created two smaller theatres to the right and left, so looking at the three sets of doors in the lobby, the right and left doors now went into the smaller theatres and the center doors opened to a long sloping hallway into the larger auditorium. As far as I could tell the original screen and automated masking was left intact. This new configuration opened in early 1992 shortly before I began working there. At that time it was a second-run discount house, with a $2 admission ($1.50 weekdays) if you bought a $2 “membership card.” By the end of 1992 the membership format was not working and the theatre switched to first-run only. Being a mom-and-pop operation compared to the theatres with money (Syufy, Festival, Brenden), the movies we got were usually smaller films no other chain wanted, or they were cast-offs from the bigger theatres that needed room for a newer feature. Later on a few Indian-language films were shown on occasion. Due to the ethnic diversity of the area, there was always an audience for these films; why this was not continued on a more permanent basis is beyond me.

As far as equipment is concerned, the smaller theatres were far inferior to any I had seen. For some reason, the booths for the smaller theatres had a large area of open dead space in front of the projector, used for storage or whatever. This was probably part of the original single-screen booth that had not been removed. Because of this, the projector could not be pointed downward and, as a result, the screens in those theatres were uncomfortably high. And only the large auditorium had Dolby (analog) sound; I don’t believe the smaller rooms even had surround sound. There was no 70mm capability either. And I too had to make the treacherous climb to the outside ledge to change the marquee; however, I had to climb the ladder while holding the letter box too.

The Capri under Enea ownership closed around May of 1995. It reopened a short time later that year under different ownership and closed again just as quickly. Thus came an end to the neighborhood theatre I loved as a kid and despised as an employee.

kencmcintyre on March 5, 2007 at 3:50 pm

This was in the Contra Costa Times in August 2005:

After six years of legal wrangling, Harvest Church parishioners will finally be able to worship in the old Capri Theater they own at Concord’s Park & Shop center. A recent court ruling has enabled the church to plan renovations needed to begin holding services on the theater’s second floor by next year. A Contra Costa County judge ruled that Concord did not violate its general plan last year when it approved the church to hold services in the former theater.

SFLee on June 8, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Church wins fight to use old theater

Bob Egelko
Friday, June 8, 2007
A Concord church’s long-standing application to convert a vacant movie theater into a house of worship has won approval from a state appeals court.

The Harvest Church bought the former Capri Theater in the Park and Shop Mall in 1998 and sought to build a church and conference center on the second floor. Concord officials rejected the idea, saying it would interfere with plans to revitalize the area with retail development. The appeals court agreed with the city.

The church then revised its proposal by dropping the conference center. The new plan was approved by the City Council 3-2 in 2004, despite opposition from some mall tenants.

On Wednesday, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the council was entitled to take a different view of the scaled-down proposal. With the site still vacant and the shopping center deteriorating, the city reached the reasonable conclusion that the church would promote retail development, the court said.

The Harvest Church now holds Sunday services in a leased auditorium at a nearby theater. An attorney for the church, Wayne Smith, said it plans to apply for a building permit soon.

A lawyer for opponents was unavailable for comment.


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This article appeared on page B – 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on June 8, 2007 at 4:18 pm

I need to contact them to take photos before they do too much to the theatrey-ness of it all.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm

The Capri Theatre, like other ABC houses of the 1960s and 1970s, was designed by architect Henry George Greene.

Here’s a photo of the former Capri Theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Really Great stories,you see so few anymore on CT.

rob750 on November 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm

The Capri theater was the second theater in the area where I worked after having come from the Hillcrest theater that later was, unfortunately, renamed Cooper Cinemas. The Hillcrest theatre was closed when the owners, a church organization, wanted to use the facility strictly for their church. I think it remains a church today.

The Capri Theater was owned by Plitt and the manager at the time, Jim, moved over to the Northpoint theater in San Francisco. The owner of the Hillcrest theater operation signed a lease to take over Capri Theater around 1981 or so. I came in to run it, having briefly been at the San Pablo theaters, which were run by the same man. We showed two second run features for $2.00 and offered a large popcorn with refills for about $2.00. It was a great place to work while going to high school because I managed the facility and hired trustworthy friends. Some 30 years later I am still friends with people I met while managing the Capri Theater.

The theater was large and unfortunately the owner, at the time, did not do a great deal to keep it updated and clean. It was sad to see this beautiful theater start to fade and not being able to do anything about it. The owners got rid of the union projectionists and the union janitor was asked to stay under a different contract. That’s when I knew it was time to move on. The owner offered me an opportunity to work at his newly acquired theater, The Park Theater in Lafayette. I would spend about a year there before it was time to move on and head to LA to go to college.

JohnRice on November 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm

In October 2012 the Harvest Church was renovating the entire building that once housed the Capri Theatre. The Capri sign which remained in place during church use up until that time had finally been removed.

RobertMerk on October 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Back in 2005 I had an opportunity to stop by the Park and Shop Shopping Center in Concord, California and paid a visit to the long abandoned Capri theatre. I was surprised to find the front doors to the theatre were unlocked. Upon entering, I found both escalators (located to the right) roped off and no longer operational. The only way up was by staircase (located on the left). Except for one flyer taped to the front door and a large cross propped up in a corner at the top of the staircase, I saw no other signs that a church had become the recent occupier of the Capri theatre. As I made my way down the left corridor towards the front lobby, it seemed as if nothing had changed. The wonderfully dated movie reel designed carpet was still in place as well as the refreshment counter. The only difference I saw was the amount of clutter placed in front of the glass doors in front of the lobby. Large lighting units, sofas and chairs had been left strewed about. I was unable to get any closer to the theatre. The glass doors before the lobby area were locked.

Although I had only attended the Capri theatre a few times in the 1970s (THE MISSOURI BREAKS in May of 1976 and ANNIE HALL in April of 1977) a feeling of nostalgia and sadness came over me as I left the shopping center parking lot.

RobertMerk on October 20, 2016 at 1:10 pm

The Capri theatre opened on Wednesday May 28, 1969 (coincidentally the same day the Festival 1 & 11 theatres in Walnut Creek, CA opened). The first feature was WINNING starring Paul Newman.

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