AMC Fashion Square 4
West Imperial Highway and Idaho Street,
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According to AMC Theatres, this was the world’s first freestanding four-theatre complex. The $600,000 theatre opened on August 27, 1969.
As I remember, the auditoriums of the Fashion Square 4, which seated 375, 375, 200 & 200, were irregularly shaped and gave me a cramped and awkward feeling that I wasn’t seeing the entire film. I never counted it as one of my favorite cinemas but I went there from time to time for the novelty. The good news for me, a college student at the time, was that they had a twi-lite hour where I could get in for .90 cents which was half of the regular adult admission. This was a bargain for one of its opening attractions, “Support Your Local Sheriff”, which was not first run as it had first played the county in early April.
This was AMC’s first theatre on the West Coast and their sixth multi-screen operation, having previously gone as far west from Kansas City as Dallas. It was listed in the L.A. Times under the independent theatres banner. Their future plans were to embark on $50 million expansion program, which would add 80 new multiplexes to the company once known as Durwood Theatres.
At the time there were about 35 other theatres in the Orange County, represented by Loews, United Artists, Pacific Theatres and National General, which included four old Fox West Coast houses. In addition to some independent venues there were a two adult theatres, one of which was a Pussycat. Edwards had just four locations at the time but within ten years they would be the dominant force in the county with 13 locations.
Edwards president, James Edwards II and AMC’s president, Stanley Durwood while most of the time not direct competitors had a friendly rivalry, with each disputing which one built the first multiplex. This is discussed in a 1997 Forbes magazine article, “My Megaplex Is Bigger Than Your Megaplex”. In the Forbes piece, 90 year-old Edwards was very forthright and perhaps somewhat jesting in his comment about 76 year-old Durwood. This competition culminated when Edwards Theatres lost out to AMC in building at the Ontario Mills so they bought land 900 feet away and built their own theatre, resulting in 52 screens and an Imax within a block.
Even as the Fashion Square opened AMC had plans to build a 12-screen elsewhere, consisting of three quads on different levels. Its then general manager, Robert Goodfriend, told Newsweek magazine “I’m not too excited about it. I would rather stick with fours and sixes.”
On their final day of operation, January 5, 1992, a simple “Thank you for your patronage” appeared in their ad. This left three AMCs in the county, the Fullerton 10, the Mainplace 6 and the Orange Mall 6. It wasn’t until 1998 that they built the AMC 30 at the Block in Orange.
The Fashion Square 4 was later demolished and in 2000, Regal Theatre 16 opened nearby in the renovated shopping center.
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