Montclair Cinemas

9355 Monte Vista Avenue,
Montclair, CA 91763

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This was once an eight-screen venue housed within two buildings of The Montclair Plaza on Monte Vista Avenue adjacent to the Freeway 10. The front building had three screens; the rear structure had five. Although two parts of the same venue, the front screens were of a different style than those in the rear—which strongly resembled the Woodland Hills GCC (possibly built around the same time).

As far back as 1983, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” had weekly screenings here. But with increased competition from newer, flashy megaplexes nearby (like AMC’s Ontario Mills), this venue began to steadily lose business in the 1990s, its final decade of operation. In 1995, the front screens were closed and that building subsequently torn down. The rear screens continued operations through the late-1990’s, but were eventually reduced to showing second-run films as its support from the General Cinemas chain got pulled.

As an independent venue, it remained open up until August 2000, which is when it ceased operations as a movie theater.

Contributed by Lavar Burkhart

Recent comments (view all 33 comments)

rontrotter
rontrotter on August 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm

The back five theatres were built from scratch, designed to be a five screen facility from the beginning.

AnthonyDuran
AnthonyDuran on August 18, 2010 at 8:06 am

Thanks for all the info, Ron! The General Cinema holds SO MANY memories for me, that it’s nice to get an insider’s perspective. Also great to see that so many other people cherished it, as well. Do you have any pictures? And if so, is there anyway you could post them?

rontrotter
rontrotter on August 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm

One would think that as the projectionist at the Montclair Cinemas for thirty years I would take lots of photos. Didn’t happen. I did take few, very few, photos of the place but after ten years I can’t find them. I should look for them. A note to Lavar: The back five cinemas were operated by General Cinema until the last and final day of operation and were never ‘independent’; always GCC.

TimC
TimC on January 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I worked at these theatres from 1988 to 1996 or 1997. I can still mentally tour every last square inch of both buildings, top to bottom, inside and out…pretty literally, as I spent a good amount of time behind screens, inside ceilings, and whatnot, doing various installations, fix it jobs, and cleanup. The space that the front building filled is now an Elephant Bar and a Macaroni Grill, while the back building space is a gym. It’s amazing to me how small the space that the front building filled now looks…the restaurants make the spot seem so small, while that front building with three screens seemed so massive back in the day. I miss the place greatly…by far that has been my favorite job ever.

TimC
TimC on January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

With a little digging I can come up with a lot of photos of the place, as I did a lot of banners, signs, and window painting for promotions back then. I have the photos packed away someplace…

rontrotter
rontrotter on January 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm

TimC: What kind of installations did you do at the GCC complex? I just remember the “RCA” tech’s doing the projection/sound service.

TimC
TimC on January 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Hey, Ron! How goes it? “Installations” may be a too generous term, as I don’t mean wiring the place for sound or anything, but did stuff like the “new” interior marquee signs, doing the changeout from the old red and white to the gray and blue seats, etc. In any case, I was pretty intimate with both buildings for a long time…they are still missed by me every time I am around the Montclair Plaza area. Good to “see” you, Ron, and Bill’s name up above as well! I went on a bit of a nostalgia trip today and “Googled” GCC and wound up here. Small world!

TimC
TimC on January 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

For the record for anyone else who visits this page, Ron knows his stuff about this theatre, and knows his stuff about projection. When you go to the movies nowadays and are able to see into the projection booth, you usually see someone barely out of high school fumbling around with the machinery in there, mostly clueless about what is going on with the machinery and film, if they even use film there anymore. Ron and Mr. Kelly from GCC Montclair were masters of the machines and of the film itself, something that is just simply missing in most theatres today. I salute them both.

rontrotter
rontrotter on January 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Yes. There are no longer “professional” projectionists. It’s all done by the snackbar girls and boys as most theatres are “digital” and all they have to do is start the DVD by pushing a button. Yes, we pay big bucks to watch a movie that is basically on a DVD…only more technically advanced and cannot be played on a home unit.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on August 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm

An article in the San Dimas Press from March 27, 1969 says that the theatre would be opening April 2, 1969.

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