Mann Grove 9
3450 College Avenue,
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For a multi-plex, the Mann Grove 9 had one of the shortest lives of any theater in San Diego. Established as part of the redevelopment of the ‘Marketplace at the Grove’ shopping center by William Stone Development, it opened to much fanfare on December 14, 1988.
Fronted by a 3 story neon sign that proclaimed itself ‘Mann 9 Grove’ and incorporating the world famous neon Majorette (formerly of the Campus Drive-In, bought and refurbished by the developer for $90,000) into its facade at the northwest corner of the building. The Grove 9 was built at a cost of $2 million and encompassed 36,600 square feet, making it the largest multiplex in San Diego, the crown jewel of Mann’s San Diego theaters. It featured 9 THX approved auditoriums equipped with JBL speaker systems featuring 35,000 watts of power. These features pale in comparison to the fact that the Grove 9 was also reported to be the first San Diego theater to feature drink holders in seat arm rests. Its opening line-up of movies was “Rain Man”, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, “The Naked Gun”, “Tequila Sunrise”, “Cocoon: The Return of the Acused”, and “Mystic Pizza”.
The Grove 9 would then go on to host some the biggest films of the late-1980’s and 1990’s including “Batman”, “Dick Tracy”, the “Star Wars” Special Editions and “Titanic”. Unfortunately, its early popularity would never be replicated as the decade wore on, nor could it overcome the problems of the area that had forced the first renovation of the Grove.
By 1997, the shopping center was largely vacant, and the theater itself had been robbed at least twice in its lifetime (one in 1994 and once in January 1997- with a grenade!). Mann, as part of its ongoing San Diego collapse, closed the theater on 16 October 1998. The last films to have played there were “Holy Man”, “What Dreams May Come”, “Ronin”, “Urban Legend”, “Blade”, “There’s Something About Mary”, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”, “Ever After”, and “The Avengers”.
It was demolished in February 1999 (the Majorette sign was saved and reused elsewhere on the rebuilt College Grove), having earned the dubious distinction of being the shortest lived multiplex in San Diego history.
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