Cinema 21

1440 Hotel Circle North,
San Diego, CA 92108

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Cinema 21, San Diego, CA c. 1964

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in July 1963 with “55 Days at Peking”. Closed by the Mann Theatre chain in September 1998. After closing, served as a church and sporting goods store before being torn down to build rather ugly condos.

Contributed by Gabriel Neeb

Recent comments (view all 25 comments)

kagemusha98 on June 20, 2011 at 8:52 am

I grew up in San Diego during the 60’s and remember going to see the opening film at the Cinema 21 ( Originally part of “Statewide theatre chain….then FOX West Coast….then Mann theaters……55 DAYS AT PEKING. I used to write down every movie I saw there…..I found my partial list… here…not in necessarily in order are films that played at Cinema 21….. THE VIPS…IRMA LA DOUCE…TOM JONES. …THE CARPETBAGGERS…..MOVE OVER DARLING….TAKE HER SHE’S MINE….WHAT A WAY TO GO!….WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?……THE PINK PANTHER…..SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL….36 HOURS….A SHOT IN THE DARK….TEN COMMANDMENTS (re-release)….HARPER…MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS….HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE….FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX….ZORBA THE GREEK…..DARLING…..DOCTOR DOOLITTLE……DO NOT DISTURB….THE SANDPIPER….THE COMEDIANS…..TWO FOR THE ROAD…WAIT UNTIL DARK…….THE RED TENT….THE ANDERSON TAPES…..ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER……WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?….THE LION IN WINTER…..INSIDE DAISY CLOVER..LOVE STORY.. AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS ( re release..cut version)..MIDNIGHT COWBOY..IS PARIS BURNING?..THE SAND PEBBLES….HAROLD AND MAUDE…PAINT YOUR WAGON….GODFATHER…..THE GODFATHER II…CHARIOTS OF FIRE. I spent many hours making copies of the San Diego Tribune movie section at the main library in downtown SD.( late 50’s—-60’s and early 70’s) Fun too look at all those great ads! I also worked at the Vally Circle…from 69-74.

plinfesty on July 2, 2011 at 12:40 am

Pictures and details of the Cinema 21 can be found in this Boxoffice Magazine 1964 issue:

Logan5 on February 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

I understand that MGM held a sneak preview of “Logan’s Run” somewhere in San Diego on Friday, May 7, 1976. Does anyone know which theatre? I wonder if it was Cinema 21, since sneaks for other films were held here in the ‘70s-'80s including “Blade Runner” in '82. Anybody know?

rivest266 on April 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

July 19th, 1963 grand opening ad has been posted here.

zeussd on February 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I worked here from 1991 to 1997, and was a manager from 1994 – 1997. I’ve added a photo of the front of the theatre from the parking lot. (1995 – movie was SEVEN) I also have a large set of pictures from the 1992-1993 flood which I may post later. That flood was just as bad as the one in 1978, and I can confirm that Superman moved from here to the Loma theatre.

LomaUsher on March 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm

The Cinema 21 was also notably flooded during the epic rains of 1983. The normally minuscule San Diego River put the whole floor of Mission Valley under water, and I believe the water nearest the screen was upwards of six feet deep. It survived the flood, but not the video revolution.

Logan5 on September 24, 2014 at 10:51 am

“The Rocketeer” showed at the Cinema 21 in 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo SR beginning on Friday June 21, 1991 (the film’s nationwide release date).

geekness on April 10, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I also worked at Cinema 21 and have some good memories here. The back doors never seemed to close right and I’m surprised more people hadn’t figured that out and didn’t sneak in more often. I have seen Dick Tracy, the Rocketeer, and Presumed Innocent more times than I can count. Would love to talk to anyone who also worked there in 90 and 91. We used to take breaks on the roof and I remember as a going away present I was given one of the “H"s from the marquis for my first name. I kept that thing for years hanging on the gate of my house.

moviebuff82 on May 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

When this theater opened was it the largest in San Diego?

Zubi on May 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm

No. Even the Loma, which opened in the 40s, shows a higher seating capacity on this website (admittedly, it actually seems a little too high from what I remember when working there). There was also the Fox-Downtown, which was much, much larger than either the Loma or the 21 and opened in ‘29 (originally a movie house, the Fox was converted into Copley Symphony Hall in the 80s).

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