Town & Country Theater

2980 Stevens Creek Boulevard,
San Jose, CA 95128

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This former Cinerama palace was built for 70mm Cinerama in 1966. Situated across the street from the palatial Century 21, the Town & Country was sold to AMC and renovated in 1991.

The screen was flattened and the deteriorating cinema was finally, and sadly, demolished.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

scottfavareille
scottfavareille on October 21, 2004 at 3:11 pm

There was a Town and Country Cinema in Sunnyvale on Murphy Ave which showed second-run fare until 1975, when it showed hard porn until closing. Does anybody have more info on that theater?

GaryParks
GaryParks on January 8, 2005 at 2:41 pm

The Town and Country Cinema in Sunnyvale opened in the 1920s as the Strand. It was later called the Sunnyvale, then Town and Country. It still stands, with a few historical details evident on its exterior, and is now a restaurant and nightclub.

Chris Lion
Chris Lion on April 14, 2005 at 7:09 pm

I worked at the T&C for a few years in the 80’s. I remember both Top Gun and The Natural each played there for seven months. Do any theaters keep a movie for more than two weeks?

Anyway, it had a fantastic curved ‘ribbon screen’. Instead of a single curved piece of material, it was a series of hundreds of 1.5" ribbons that slightly overlapped in a curve. The depth in that screen was amazing. I saw Out of Africa there and went to see it again at another theater (why I would see that again, I can’t remember) and it looked so flat! However, if the A/C blew too hard, it caused the ribbons to shift and it looked as if there were scratches in the film.

T&C had these amazing Norelco projectors. The most forgiving and quiet projector ever. They ran reel-to-reel until Century Theatres took over. However, they left the second projector up—so we actually had a backup projector!

When AMC came in they put in this small screen that they hyped as “the largest Torus compound screen west of the Mississippi.” (Whatever that was.) It looked like crap. Across the street were two 40 x 80 screens and there answer was to put in a 20 x 40 in the same space? When Mann and Century showed films in Scope, the picture practically went ceiling to floor and wall to wall. Look at that picture at the top, it’s practically a quarter of what T&C had before AMC.

Also, AMC had no idea how to run a single-screen. It was total culture shock for them. It was a slow, sad decline for such a great theatre.

kucharsk
kucharsk on January 13, 2008 at 5:40 am

My fondest memory of this theatre is I saw “Die Hard” there shortly after I had moved to Santa Clara.

Not only did the movie blow me away, but the presentation at the Town and Country ranked among the best I had ever seen, to the point I had to inform the theatre management what a great theatre it was.

It makes me sad to even drive by the CinéArts @ Santana Row that now occupies the location.

larrygoldsmith
larrygoldsmith on February 13, 2009 at 7:05 pm

FOX TOWN AND COUNTRY THEATRE was originally owned by National General Theatres.It was sold to CENTURY THEATRES in the early 70’s when Mann took over and sold or closed all the Bay Area theatres under the FOX/NATIONAL GENERAL banner.

ajtarantex
ajtarantex on March 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I WORKED WITH BILL TANNEHILL THERE TRAINING TO OPEN mANN’S FASHION ISLAND 6 IN FOSTER CITY AND I REMEMBER WHEN SCRAPPY MOVED TO THE FOX T AND C WHEN THEY SOLD THE SAN MATEO BEVERLY ALSO TRANSFERED THERE AND SLEPT IN THE JANITORS CLOSET.

Michael
Michael on January 5, 2014 at 1:58 pm

My mom and grandma took me and two of my cousins here to see “Ghostbusters” in 1984. One of the earliest movies I saw theatrically that I have a clear memory of. I think it was the only movie I ever saw there, though.

boxcop
boxcop on January 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I saw Die Hard, Top Gun and Superman here…. It had the best presentation back in the day, before AMC bought it and ruined its reputation. On the issue of the 21, 22 and 23 theaters closing across the street- 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).

Coate
Coate on January 14, 2014 at 2:10 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).

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