Lakewood Center 16

5200 Faculty Avenue,
Lakewood, CA 90712

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At a cost of $1 million dollars and eight months of construction the Lakewood Center Theatre, designed by George T. Nowak and Mel C. Glatz, opened on January 17, 1968. The Long Beach Press-Telegram said that the 1,200 seat venue was Pacific Theatres 71st location, most of them drive-ins. Pacific Theatres chose Merrill DeVine to be its managing director. DeVine previously managed the Picwood, Hollywood Pantages and the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles.

The opening attraction was Sydney Poitier in “To Sir With Love”. On hand at the opening festivities, which the paper said 10,000 attended, were actors Jim Brown, Troy Donahue and Rudy Vallee. The architecture was very 1960’s modern with a large curved glass front, a gigantic lobby and a 60-foot concession stand. Pacific Theatres said that the four Austrian-made chandeliers in the lobby were valued at $6,000 each.

May 22, 1974 saw the opening of two more screens and then on October 24 it became the Lakewood 4. In June of 1981, the Lakewood Center South 1,2,3 opened in a new building at another location in the mall’s parking lot.

On March 19, 1999 after months of construction, during which it was closed and gutted and 56,000 square feet was added to the building, the brand new Lakewood Center Stadium 16 opened. It was designed by architect Dan Tanizaki with GFBA Architects.

The Press-Telegram said that the $12 million renovation brought its total number of seats to 4,800. And by the way, the original Austrian chandeliers are still hanging in the lobby. Currently both Lakewood Center theatres have a total of 25 screens.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Zubi
Zubi on August 2, 2009 at 6:33 pm

The test you attended, was there an overwhelmingly negative audience response from what you could tell? At Pasadena, such wasn’t the case as mentioned; it was just an ordinary screening with typical feedback. Sony never disputed that they held tests, of course. Rather, they took issue with the “LA Times” reporting that there was this test that hadn’t gone well—contending that the story was simply made up. BTW Wikipedia perpetuates the rumor by claiming that “Sony then destroyed the test cards” but the article offers no citation to support this claim, so who knows if it’s true or not. Did Lakewood have oral feedback as well as cards?

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on September 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm
  1. Only believe half of what you read in Wikipedia. It’s based on people’s personal factoids and not true facts. Nearly every post on there contradicts itself since it just compliles info from different sources.

  2. About the theatre: 2 of the auditoriums at Lakewood Center have retained their original non-stadium, sloped floor configuration – the original “main auditorium” on the left hand side, and the 2nd large auditorium on the right. Both have had their seating decreased (to make room for the additions) but are still relatively decent in my book.

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on September 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm

In the display case this week at the Cinerama Dome, there is a drawing of this theater with the title Pacific’s Lakewood Cinerama Theater. It certainly looked like a Cinerama house when I saw “American Graffiti” there. The drawing showed “Battle of the Bulge” as a Cinerama presentation on the marquee. I am unaware of any official Cinerama presentations showing here. Does anyone know? I don’t remember if the original house was equipped for 70mm. I do remember a sneak preview (remember when you had no idea what would be shown?) and it was “Oklahoma Crude”.

Coate
Coate on September 30, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Yes, the original house was equipped for 70mm, but I don’t believe they played anything in 70 until their 1977-78 booking of “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.”

William
William on October 1, 2009 at 6:44 am

It was tobe a Cinerama house in the early days of planning. But the Roadshow and Cinerama days were about to end. So it became just a regular Pacific plex. Well the film “Battle of the Bulge” was produced by William Forman of the Pacific and Cinerama companies.

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on October 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Michael & William: thanks for the info. I guess that makes the drawing a pretty rare piece of Cineramabilia!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 17, 2010 at 5:07 am

The major expansion of the Lakewood Center Theatres into the current 16-screen megaplex was the work of theater designer Dave Tanizaki, with GFBA Architects. The same team designed at least one other theater project, the Edwards Metro Pointe Stadium 12 in Costa Mesa, California, opened in 1996. This page at GFBA’s web site features a couple of exterior of the redesigned building.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 27, 2012 at 6:47 am

Described in this 1968 trade article: Boxoffice

monroe jones
monroe jones on August 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Two of the best movies I got to see here was U2 Rattle and Hum and Back To The Future.

Bruce D
Bruce D on August 14, 2013 at 12:51 am

The original theater #1 had to be the best movie theater in the Lakewood/Long Beach area.

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