Metroplex 18 at Buena Park Downtown

8290 La Palma Avenue,
Buena Park, CA 90620

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Krikorian Metroplex 18 Exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Krikorian’s Metroplex 18 was opened May 2, 2003. Built behind the Buena Park mall, as part of a mall redevelopment project, the freestanding structure sits on the former site of a JC Pennys, in an entertainment strip known as the “Buena Park Downtown”. The theatre was intended as Krikorian Premiere Theatres' flagship location and the company’s first venture in to a new style of megaplex, the “metroplex”.

With a classic movie palace inspired lobby and high end accoutrements throughout, the metroplex was planned to bring together the grand movie going experience of yesteryear’s movie palaces with the function of modern megaplexes. From imported crystal chandeliers and commissioned artwork to a custom designed Klipsch sound system and top of the line equipment, no expense was spared. At some point, the effort almost took on a “spending money for the sake of spending money” approach and several of the luxury features, such as the “sky bar lounge” never materialized as fully functional.

Unfortunately, the grand vision never lived up to attendance expectations, as the theatre has settled in to a rather average megaplex business level. Isolated behind a half vacant mall, that never kept pace with the theatre, the metroplex stands as somewhat of a wasted effort.

Contributed by ecorche

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

CTCrouch on March 15, 2006 at 1:56 am

Buena Park’s Sky Bar was basically doomed from the start. The four large auditoriums have upper level exit doors in to the space (making it nearly impossible to control access), primary booth access is through the area, and there is only a closet available for storage. A neon sign, advertising the bar, was installed and there were some half hearted attempts to come up with design concepts, but I never felt as if the idea was ever truly serious. We were constantly told of proposed opening dates to tell customers, but these dates always passed and there wasn’t so much as an application for a liquor license filed.

There were numerous “high end” concepts that weren’t realistic or well thought out at Buena Park. There was a “mobile” concession stand built to service the anticipated customer overflow; idea being to roll it out and plug it in to one of the hallway network outlets or skybar outlet. However, the unit was built out of the same materials as the concessionstand (including stone countrtop) which made the “mobile” stand far from mobile. There ended up being no need for it, as the main stand was easily capable of handling business. Then, there were the rooftop spotlights, xenon powered and shooting beams a reported seven miles in to the sky. If only the theatre wasn’t located in heavily populated, and well lit, Buena Park, they might actually have been effective before midnight.

The theatre was definitely a great concept and a major step up from the standard megaplex, but there was a failure to consider many issues of reality in creating this dream theatre. Perhaps, the biggest issue being the mall.

In fairness to George Krikorian and company, the mall made a lot of promises that never materialized. There was supposed to be a total transformation and a number of big name businesses were alleged to be lined up. It turned out the mall was hoping the theare would attract these businesses. But, of course, the theatre’s true success was dependant on the mall having more to offer.

CTCrouch on March 15, 2006 at 2:58 am

Some random theatre information:

The building is constructed in a typical megaplex T shape, with the four large auditoriums off the lobby and remaining theatres down two hallways. The projection booth is broken in to three areas, separated by the “Skybar Lounge”. A large room is located at the end of each first floor hallway, one has been converted to a birthday party/event rental room, the other was left unfinished and used for concession storage. A surprisingly small office and employee locker area are located on either side of the expansive women’s restroom.

The four largest auditoriums, 450 seats each, are equipped with Klipsch KMX 4-T grand speakers and feature both Dolby Digital and SDDS capability.

The women’s restroom is probably one of the largest one could hope to find. Located directly behind the concession area, it runs the width of the lobby and hosts a mind-boggling number of stalls that require a full time attendant on weekends.

A cafe and customer service booth were planned for either side of the lobby, but never moved beyond the planning stage.

The enormous artwork panels that line the building’s exterior all feature the artist (bearded man in a knit cap) and his friends. One also features the general manager of Krikorian’s Monrovia location.

The theatre opened with 133 staff members, twelve managers, seven projectionists, four supervisors, and two restroom attendants.

moviebluedog on March 29, 2006 at 10:26 pm

This is a very nice theatre, considering that UA had let the 8-plex nearby run down.

Krikorian has managed to keep the 18-plex up. I like that most of the auditoriums are fairly good sized—I never feel confined, even in the smallest ones. The sound and the presentations have been good.

The staff is friendly, though I have to say that the snack bar service is almost always sloooooow, even when there’s extra staff. It always seems like the staff could pick up the pace, especially when it costs a lot for a movie and popcorn. Other than that, nice theatre.

I agree with Jeff’s views on the mall. I grew up around Buena Park in the 1970s and can remember it wasn’t all that great back then. Sometime in the 1980s, I recall that’s when the mall added a roof. The interior became very dark and unpleasent to walk around in. Then the recent overhaul hasn’t seemed to do much good. The downstairs is still dark, and the shop selection upstairs isn’t all that great. I think if it weren’t for Wal-Mart, the mall would be history.

bpgirl62 on August 7, 2007 at 12:57 pm

On the contrary, the BP mall was a popular mall in the 80s after it was enclosed. It started going downhill in the early 90s after the May Co store moved out.
I think the pictures on the outside of the theater are hideous. Paintings of classic movie stars or of today’s stars would look so much better, instead of random paintings of a movie theater AUDIENCE dressed up. Just doesn’t make sense.

CTCrouch on November 9, 2007 at 1:30 pm

This theatre recently (Fall 07') converted to digital, making it the second all digital venue in Orange County (“Cinema City”, formerly Sanborn/SoCal “Cinemapolis”, in Anaheim Hills, being the county’s first).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 20, 2009 at 1:41 am

This multiplex was designed by the architectural firm of Perkowitz+Ruth, and pictures of it can be seen at their web site (click on their “entertainment” link.)

CTCrouch on May 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Buena Park is now developing another “revitalization” project, which includes a movie theatre, about two miles from this center. Located on a twelve acre property, at the corner of Orangethorpe and Beach, the 450,000+ square foot retail and entertainment complex, branded “The Source”, is slated to have a 1,200 seat cinema. No operator has been named for the theatre yet and the seating capacity suggests it will be relatively small (perhaps a luxury concept or dine-in?), but, considering the lackluster shopping complex Krikorian has to work with, any direct competition will likely be bad news for the Metroplex 18.

jmarellano on May 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Hasn’t that project been in the works now for like 6 years? Will it finally get off the ground?

CTCrouch on May 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

They have started work on the site and their first stage (I’m not sure what stage the theatre is tied in to) is slated for an early 2015 opening.

rivest266 on August 11, 2016 at 6:35 pm

This opened on May 2nd, 2003. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section.

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