Hillsdale Cinema

3011 S. El Camino Real,
San Mateo, CA 94403

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The single screen Hillsdale was opened December 23, 1966, operated by General Cinema Corp. until it closed in 1997.

The lobby walls featured wall to wall glass panels with brown drapes that could be drawn to keep the sun out.

It was twinned in the early-1970’s and four-plexed in the late-1970’s. The walls of the auditorium were paneled with steel siding! By the time the theatre closed in 1998, it was very worn out. The cinema still had the original seats from the 1960’s. It remained empty for three years before being converted into a furniture store in 2000.

Contributed by mike croaro

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

Paul68 on May 22, 2010 at 1:21 am

My first Job was working at the Hillsdale Cinema.( 1984). I served popcorn, drinks and candy. The movies playing the first day I started were: far-lap, Places in the heart, A soldiers Story, and Starman. Everyone working there were teenagers and we had a lott of fun. ( Goofing Around). Got to see many free movies, and eat all the free popcorn. I allways let my friends into the movies for free. My uniform was the standard black polyester pants, white dress shirt and clip on tie. After work I would cruise up and down the El Camino.
There were hundreds of teenagers cruising the El Camino. San Mateo is a totally different place. Everyone I know has moved away. No more Hillsdale Cinema just memories.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 22, 2010 at 6:08 am

Paul68,just be glad you got to work in a theatre,seems like most of the folks on CT never had the fun we did because we worked in the business,Me 7 years and for GCC. Our REGENCY MALL I.II.&III looked the same as yours inside.

tarantex on May 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

HEY mike, was david blackburn the Manager when you worked there?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm

John,if you are asking Mike R,No.I don’t ever recall a David Blackburn working at Regency.

Fastphilly on February 3, 2012 at 1:42 am

I seen “Superman” there in 1978 and I still remember my shoes sticking to the floor with what felt like syrup..That was the most untidy theater I ever watched a flick in.

DaveFogerson on September 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm

A few versions of the “Feature Presentation” trailers that played at this and other GCC cinemas:





lagunagolf on February 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Lynn Blackburn was manager of Hillsdale when it was a single (end of 60’s) and was mgr when it was twinned around 1972. He was transfered to LA in 72-73 when GCC bought Loew’s of So. California. PS—the theatre never had sticky floors during this period of time.

OCSlacker on April 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I was the closing manager for this theatre. Hillsdale was my first GM position. Before that, I was an assistant at GCC in Fremont. It was really run down by the time it closed but was a cash cow. Could never understand why they would close a theatre that made the company so much money.I can say that working here wasn’t my first choice.I tried to clean it up but it always seemed like it was never enough.Rats ran rampant throughout the building and I have a huge fear of those little critters. Almost quit my first day there because of that problem. The worst day was when someone drove by and shot out the huge windows in the lobby while the theatre was being closed for the night. The one plus I can give it was that the projectionist decorated the upstairs in all old movie posters and memorabilia. He worked there for over 20 years and saved everything, even an old spot light from the early 60’s that I was able to take home when the theartre closed it’s doors. Unfortunately, no one outside of the employees ever saw the projection booth. Also, loved watching movies from the small balcony off of the booth. Seemed like no one every knew I was I up there. Fremont on the other hand holds many dear memories for me. Cleanest theatre I have ever worked in and the hardest working employees I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Sometimes wish it was still around.

pbignardi on July 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I generally liked this theater, but it had the most unusual seats that were attached to some sort of sliding apparatus. It allowed you to move around in your seat a bit, but by the end of the movie your back was toast.

EmpressDR on July 29, 2017 at 12:26 pm

the first film I saw there was Superman; later Reds (what a presentation! Lobby cards, intermission, everything!) saw Moonraker, and more — I think this was my usual theater for new movies. I think the last film I saw there before I moved to southern California was Terminator 2 (1991, but I left in 1992). The bathrooms were unusual — they had sinks right in with the toilets. I tried to wash my hair one time (difficult because the faucet was too close to the bottom of the sink)! Not sure why I did, maybe I was planning to run away from home, and wanted to know if this was a viable place to keep clean. One usher made mean remarks to me because I used to PAY to go to more than film per day (I STILL do that, because Tuesday is bargain day at AMC theaters). Back in the day, matinees were only about $1.50 or $2. On my last day at that theater before moving, I looked out the large lobby window for my dad’s car, and 3 stupid junior high boys blocked my view — then one of them told me my blouse was opened up and they could see… the others hit him for warning me. My blouse had loose buttons! But really, I was much older than they!

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