Century 21

3161 Olsen Drive,
San Jose, CA 95117

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Showing 1 - 25 of 46 comments

SavetheDomes
SavetheDomes on June 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

There is a large preservation movement… The City of San Jose has just granted the Century 21 City Landmark status— it doesn’t remove the threat of demolition, but it makes it tougher to do. The National Register of Historic Places is determining whether or not it will be added to the register… the state can also do this.

We hope the developers of the property will see the value in a restored movie house, possibly with Stargazer’s from CO or a similar company.

PLEASE help us save the Century 21! Sign the petition, pass it along to all of your friends— there’s strength in numbers! If anyone has any Hollywood connections— please put them in contact with us! http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-winchester-domes

or on Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/savedome

heytoddo
heytoddo on April 2, 2014 at 3:45 pm

It breaks my heart to see these theatres go. I was born in the early 1960’s in Santa Cruz, but grew up in San Jose. This is what my mother recently wrote about Century 21: “When Century 21 was new it was like going to a live theater. The big screen, the large, comfortable seats, it was comfortable to be there. Things changed over the years, but I think they set the bar.”

In the early 1980’s, I would work for Syufy as an Assistant Manager at Century Almaden (five-house theatre at Blossom Hill Rd and Almaden Expressway) for first Ron Giffen and later Kevin Payton. One of my duties was to set-up the marquee sign, a dangerous job to reach the top sections from a ladder up on the platform that was fifteen feet off the ground — sometimes in the rain. But I loved threading the projectors on the big platters to the five old Cinemeccanica reel-to-reel projectors between showings throughout the day, or turn up the sound in the projection booth to listen and watch my favorite parts of some movies.

I would help out occasionally on the Big Block, mostly for Ron Giffen at Century 23 or Bill Tannehill at Century 21. I met Ray Syufy Sr. once when he came to Century Almaden to decide whether to split the center big house in two, but he never did. Sometime later while working the door at Century 23 a younger man walked up and said he was Ray Syufy and he wanted to see the manager. I chuckled, since I had already met Ray Syufy. I went to the office and told Ron Giffen some guy said he was Ray Syufy and wanted to see him. Ron exclaimed, “That could be Ray Syufy, Jr.!” I was mortified.

Just this weekend, on 30 May 2014, I took my two daughters (8 and 6 years old) to a special Retro Dome showing of Walt Disney’s “Finding Nemo” at Century 21, where they enjoyed the huge screen instead of a television monitor on DVD — they loved it!

It is like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Zubi
Zubi on April 2, 2014 at 7:14 am

Like the 24 and the 25, the 21, 22, and 23 are now closed and may be soon demo’d. Sunday night’s finale at the original and never multiplexed 21, presided over by Shannon Guggenheim and the Retro Dome repertory company, was attended by representatives of the Syufy family, the media, and over a thousand patrons. Completely sold out, it was a festive send-off (the audience even clapped to the beat of the old 1990s Syufy/Century Theatres trailer). However, the new leaseholder and the property owners appear intransigent. So it looks like The Block-San Jose may soon join Coronet-San Francisco, National-Westwood, Cinedome-Orange, Cinema 21-San Diego, and countless other nice California theatres so that there can be more of what we already have too much of here in this state.

Horace_Austin
Horace_Austin on March 18, 2014 at 9:19 pm

The farewell screening at the Century 21 will be RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK on Sunday, March 30 at 7:20 pm. Appropriate given that RAIDERS opened at the Century 21 and 23 on June 12, 1981.

pina321
pina321 on March 4, 2014 at 12:25 am

Sad to say, but the remaining domes—Century 21, 22, 23—will close after March 31. It is too bad, such great memories. I will really miss these wonderful theaters.

Coate
Coate on January 14, 2014 at 10:12 pm

boxcop… At the time of the “Superman” engagement, the Dome Complex and the Town & Country were in competition with each other. The Domes were run by Syufy and the Town & Country was run by Mann. Syufy’s (aka Century) ownership of the Town & Country came years later. See my Still Believing A Man Can Fly article for a reference to Town & Country being a Mann operation in 1978/79 (and for a list of where else “Superman” played when it was new).

boxcop
boxcop on January 14, 2014 at 8:46 pm

On the issue of these theaters closing – With some serious funding from some serious supporters, the Century 21 could become a class act entertainment destination in the heart of the Silicon Valley once again. With some minor changes to the exterior, lobby and auditorium and a few major changes to the projection booth and screen, this theatre has the potential to be a first-run, 3D digital movie theatre, a one-of-a-kind single-screen IMAX venue and even a Cinerama-capable auditorium (as it was originally constructed to be) all in one. Just see what Paul Allen did for Seattle’s Cinerama Theatre and what the Pacific Theatre chain did for the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. The developers even built around that one and both sides won. The issue here is that we have wealthy corporate executives and we have dedicated, film-lovers who appreciate what these screens were in the past, what they are today and what they could be in the future. The problem that we face is that we do not have both qualities in the same person who is willing to swoop down and save the day, like Superman did for me in 1978 (another classic film I watched at these domes – technically across the street at Town & Country, which was still considered to be a part of the old “Block” Century Theatres complex).

antoniomontana
antoniomontana on December 17, 2013 at 4:54 am

According to retrodome: Century 21, 22 and 23 – There is no new information about the status of the redevelopment of the property at Winchester and Stevens Creek. As of now, we just know the land owner is accepting proposals and that programming at the theatre will continue as planned into the new year. The Land Owner has not made themselves available to explore any options. The owners of the theatres (Syufy Enterprises) have graciously offered the opportunity for us to continue screening movies at Century 21 (more on that below) until the conclusion of their lease.

antoniomontana
antoniomontana on November 28, 2013 at 4:36 am

I did see 2001 shown in 35 mm, hopefully the domes will stick around a while.

antoniomontana
antoniomontana on November 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm

The retrodome guggenheim group is showing “2001” on Nov 22-23 at Century 21. They are still hopeful to perserve part of this complex and locate there.

antoniomontana
antoniomontana on September 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Does this theater have digital projectors? If not, they will probably close down at year end when the digital media takes over.

CaptVonKrapp
CaptVonKrapp on August 11, 2013 at 10:00 pm

I remember when the Clash of the Titans sign was “defaced;” I think the guys who did that also got to the sign when Pennies From Heaven was showing there!

antoniomontana
antoniomontana on May 8, 2013 at 8:02 am

I hope when this theater shuts down it will show 2001 and plays that trailer we used to clap along with.

antoniomontana
antoniomontana on May 8, 2013 at 8:00 am

Ray Harryhousen passed away recently, was the producer of Clash of the Titans (1982). Century 21 sign was defaced so that the letters spelled clash of the T*s, as happened around the country.

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on June 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

A few 2012 photos of the Winchester Dome Theaters can be seen here, here, here and here.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on June 12, 2012 at 1:38 am

Though the signs still say Century 21, the name on this page should probably reflect Winchester 21.

sweitzel
sweitzel on November 12, 2011 at 4:58 am

Folks, The Century 21, 22, and 23 domes will soon meet their demise. Those three cinemas sit on land owned by those who own the Winchester Mystery House. Ray Syufy signed a 50 year lease on the land in 1962 and went on to build and open Century 21 in 1963. That original lease expires in 2012. The families that own and operate WMH have already signed lease agreements with development firms to develop another boutique retail establishment to take the place of the theaters. Now is the time to act if you wish to save the last of these unique historical cinemas.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on July 30, 2011 at 8:58 am

The Drive-Ins have Technalight and the Solano in Concord has one digital screen.

Syufy MANAGES the Domes. Decisions about their maintenance and upkeep don’t necessarily come from California if you catch my drift.

The managers there at the location care very much about their theatres but there’s only so much you can do when you’re not quite a Cinemark and not quite a Century.

terrywade
terrywade on July 30, 2011 at 5:33 am

They run the film projector bulb so low at the #21 theatre you can’t see the picture in a dark part. No showmanship anymore, Don’t bother to close the drapes. They are trying to save money on new bulbs, that’s why they don’t have 3-D or digital in the #21 Dome Theatre or #22 next door. The Syufy Century brothers still run this place in 2011 and didn’t sell to CineMark. I think they have a long lease on the land under the Domes. Come on guys how about turning up the projection light and bring back the large curved screen. Put in one of the new Imax curved screens or give it a new name like Syufy EX. The larger the better but you need to light It up. Id hate to think what a West Wind Drive In that the Syufys run under this new name. Has anyone gone, is the light good on a outdoor screen. They still run many Drive Inn’s on the West Coast thank god.

SteveNY
SteveNY on April 1, 2009 at 8:28 pm

“2001” played so long at the Century 21 that we must have seen it ten times. After it closed, “Woodstock”, was shown forever. I’ll never forget how the theater was filled with pot smoke for every showing of Woodstock. The entire audience was always stoned from 2nd hand smoke.

My friends and I were regulars at the Century 21 all through high school.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 5, 2009 at 5:43 am

Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of November 30, 1964, announced that Syufy’s Century 21 in San Jose had opened on Tuesday, November 24. A seating capacity of 950 was given.

AndyT
AndyT on January 31, 2008 at 7:55 pm

I guess that if I am old enough to attend the opening week of 2001 that I can be forgiven for forgetting the year. Thanks for the correction Michael.

Coate
Coate on January 31, 2008 at 7:27 pm
***QUOTE: I will never forget seeing 2001 the week of its release in 1969. ***

Minor correction regarding your date (of course, you may have intended to type an “8” and keyed in a “9” by mistake). Whatever the case, I’ll take this opportunity to mention a “2001” article I wrote a few years ago that detailed its original release, the San Jose details of which were included.

23 July 1968 … San Jose, CA, USA: Century 21 [88 weeks]

A bit of trivia for you that I think appropriate for this page: San Jose’s Century 21 run of “2001” was the longest, continuous, single-theater run of the film in the U.S. (The duration of the engagements in Los Angeles and San Francisco were longer but they included a moveover to a different theater during the course their runs.)

AndyT
AndyT on January 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I will never forget seeing 2001 the week of its release in 1969. The Century 21 still had its curved screen and the place was jammed. My date and I wound up sitting very close to the screen —– if I remember right we were actually within the arch of the screen. 70MM never looked so good. It was a transforming experience for me in the way I look at film. Great memory!

kucharsk
kucharsk on January 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm

I’m grateful that the Winchester 21, 22 and 23 are still in operation, and am thankful for that non-transferable lease as I suspect it may be one of the few things preventing Cinemark from taking a bulldozer to these amazing theatres and replacing them with one of their shoebox 24-screen cineplexes.