Fine Arts Cinema

2451 Shattuck Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94704

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Fine Arts Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally an ice cream parlor, this theater was opened in the 1950’s by Pauline Kael (the famous film critic), who operated it for several years as the Berkeley Cinema. (No relation to the Berkeley theater, now since demolished.)

The film offerings were largely foreign films as well as film classics. One Japanese film in the 1960’s ran here for over one year! Declining attendance led the way to the Mitchell Brothers purchasing the theater and in January 1974, started running porn. In the mid 1980’s, the theater became the Fine Arts, showing arthouse fare.

In the 1990’s the theater was closed off and on until the current operators opened in 1998. The programming was largely independent film, documentaries, film festivals, and occasional revival product. Many of there films were seldom shown elsewhere.

The theater closed June 30, 2002 and was torn down.

Contributed by scottfavareille

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

gsmurph
gsmurph on July 14, 2004 at 6:52 am

Unfortunately, the Fine Arts is no more. Operator Keith Arnold was unable to come up with the funding ($800,000 to $1.2 million) required by developer Patrick Kennedy to outfit the space that was to be taken by the cinema. Frankly, I for one was afraid this might happen—-that was how Berkeley lost Gaia Bookstore, and the Shotgun Players had also gotten royally screwed. If only Arnold and Scherer had had the foresight to continue the Fine Arts screenings at temporary sites during the interim—-we might still have a Fine Arts Cinema (as opposed to a Fine Arts BUILDING) even if they’d had to give up on that particular site anyway (the Shotgun Players did more or less bounce back after their own raw deal with Kennedy).

gsmurph
gsmurph on July 15, 2004 at 6:35 am

Forgot to mention (though it’s probably way too obvious by now), that the Fine Arts (Cinema) has been demolished (as in Closed/Demolished).

GaryParks
GaryParks on November 27, 2004 at 3:53 pm

Surprisingly enough, though it seems the new building will not have a theatre inside, the builders have gone ahead and installed a beautiful and neon-bedecked marquee, reading FINE ARTS, which would have served the theatre, but will now herald the name and entrance of the building. It’s a shame that the theatre part of the development fell through. The building is, I think, a handsome piece of Moderne Revival, and I’m sure out-of-towners in the future will assume the building houses a theatre.

…or am I missing something? Is a theatre going in there after all?

gsmurph
gsmurph on December 9, 2004 at 6:03 am

Don’t know for sure about the theater part, but me, I just can’t help feeling that this is Kennedy’s way of rubbing it in.

gsmurph
gsmurph on January 4, 2005 at 4:50 pm

The Fine Arts was originally The Cinema; later it was known as Mitchell Brothers Cinema, Berkeley Adult Cinema, and Horizon Cinema.

gsmurph
gsmurph on January 8, 2005 at 1:16 pm

Oops—-forgot about Bombay Cinema too.

claudecat
claudecat on February 4, 2007 at 11:39 pm

After they demolished the building, someone spray-painted “Cinema is Dead” on a remaining wall amidst the rubble.

enrique53
enrique53 on September 6, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I was one of the projectionists there from 1969- 1973
Helped rebuild the projectors after the fire.

Pauline Kael had a film library there and during the maintenance of some of th enitrate prints the fire started.

Only 1.25 reels of film burned.

the booth was destroyed.

600 reels were undamaged in the fireproof storage area.

enrique53
enrique53 on December 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Francesca where are you,. I had such a crush on you. Alas I was just a kid. And you were the candy girl.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater