AMC Fashion Square 4

West Imperial Highway and Idaho Street,
La Habra, CA 90631

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AMC's Fashion Square 4 opening newspaper ad

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

jmarellano
jmarellano on September 3, 2005 at 6:59 pm

Here is a satellite look at the old AMC 4 in 1994, and the Regal in 2005.
View link

Thomas14
Thomas14 on January 19, 2006 at 2:03 pm

A few things about this theater:
It had curtains on the screens, rare for a multiplex.
The Projection Booth was off-limits to everyone except for the Projectionist, of course, and the Theater Manager- No visitors or tours. It was said that Durwood did this so his Theater set-up would be hard to copy.
Finally, the Projection Booth used the change over method, employing 2 projectors with 6000' reels in the 4 Theaters.

lajoan
lajoan on June 9, 2006 at 8:27 am

I loved this theatre! Not because it was a great theatre, but just because I had so many memories there. Me and my mom and best friend went there all the time. And, I eventually worked there in the mid-80s, as well as my best friend. I liked its quirkiness—the odd shape of the theatres, the brick red coloring, the free-standing box office, the cagey off-limits projection booth, the restaurant Fiddler’s Three next door.

Fun Facts—one-time manager Monica Dashwood went on to manage many of AMC’s flagship theatres (and her sisters were AMC managers too), and eventually was hired to run George Lucas’s THX operation.

Also, my best friend met his future wife there, a co-worker, and they now have two great kids.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 24, 2007 at 12:05 am

Here is a January 1980 ad from the LA Times:
http://tinyurl.com/2j89ae

CTCrouch
CTCrouch on August 27, 2008 at 4:42 am

The theatre’s total sating was 1,150.
Two large auditoriums: 375 each
Two small auditoriums: 200 each

The original interior color scheme was red and gold.

GaryED46
GaryED46 on January 2, 2009 at 3:53 am

I have so many memories of the Fashion Square 4. I saw The 1976 King kong, Superman the movie, and so many others. One od thing I do remember, When I first started going they used a detached ticket booth to the left of the building (When facing the main door) then shortly after stopped and switched to a window at the main door. I never could find out why.

Gary

mechmusicguy
mechmusicguy on July 21, 2009 at 12:50 am

I grew up in the Euclid/Imperial Hwy area right up the street. The La Habra Fashion Square 4 was an institution in our family. I recall seeing many movies there. Among them I recall was “Young Frankenstein”,“Gorky Park”, “Blue Lagoon”, several Disney films, if I really think about it I’m sure I could come up with a long list. Sometimes after a movie we would go to the little “Fiddlers Three” restaurant right next door. It was a cute little family owned place with some reasonably good food.

I no longer live in California but one day on a business trip I was in the area and drove past and was shocked to see it was all gone. In fact the entire Fashion Square Mall was gone! It was never a great theater, average at best, but it made me sad to think of all the good times I had there. What was really tragic is when they tore down the La Habra Drive-In across the street. The neon out front was beautiful and it was all destroyed in vain. They built a Target store there which failed in that location and has been closed and boarded up for years now. So sad.

ghalfish
ghalfish on June 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I worked at AMC Fashion Square in the late 70’s. I inherited an Usher position from my brother who was going away to college. The people who worked there were great back then. Awesome memories. I also was General Manager of the theatre in 1985. The business volume had dropped but still a great character theatre!

ppierce201
ppierce201 on February 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Oh my god! this theatre was my childhood. Remember seening so many movies here as a kid. Even attempted to sneak into and R rated movie only to get kicked out by the usher. I also remember the restrooms being downstairs under the auditoriums.

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