Millbrae Theatre

49 El Camino Real,
Millbrae, CA 94030

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Millbrae TheatreĀ©  Millbrae CA...Don Lewis

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Millbrae Theatre opened as a single screen in 1949. It seated approx. 1000 and had a balcony. The lobby was fairly large and ornate. United Artists operated the theater during the 1960’s up until approx. 1991.

The theater was triplexed in 1985 (rather late in life – most were twinned and tri-plexed in the 1970’s).

In the early-1990’s UA leased the theater out to Silver Screen Cinemas. UA decided to sell the property in 1993 or 1994 and Silver Screen cinemas vacated the property. The projectors from the theater, all Norelco’s, were removed and installed in the Elmwood Theatre in Berkeley, CA.

The building was converted into a video store. However, the giant tall neon sign was saved and still sits on top of the building.

Contributed by Mike Croaro

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Dejael
Dejael on November 19, 2002 at 5:31 pm

What a beautiful Art Deco masterpiece the Millbrae Theater is! Thank God the marquee and Deco tower were saved in the renovation. I went to this theater many times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I’ll never forget the night we went to see Spielberg’s “CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND” here in 1977. It was so good I rushed up to the Coronet Theater in San Francisco a week later to see it in 70mm.

Seth
Seth on July 1, 2004 at 6:30 pm

The marquee was not saved. The tower is stuck on a typical exapmple of ugly American sprawl. So you have a tacky gray box with an old vertical sign on it.

GaryParks
GaryParks on August 25, 2004 at 5:41 pm

The “tacky grey box” mentioned above is the plain concrete shell of the auditorium, with the Hollywood Video neon logo applied to it. I agree that the vertical sign was applied to the building without any attempt to tastfully join it to the surface. However, had the city and other concerned citizens not fought to save the sign—with the idea that it was good advertising to have a landmark sign proclaiming the name of the city visible from both El Camino Real and the new transit station—all the property owner would have saved was the “grey box.” From what I understand, the city maintains and operates the vertical sign, with no involvement from the property owner.

Seth
Seth on August 25, 2004 at 8:10 pm

Hollywood Video neutered this building so effectively that I never would have guessed the building was original. It looks exactly like every other Hollywood Video I’ve ever seen. Okay, maybe the size should have been a clue. The sign did trick me into wasting some time in the characterless town. I think it’s the only thing worth seeing in Millbrae.

Michaels
Michaels on July 13, 2005 at 11:08 am

Yes they sure did a number here.
Once again one of my memories that includes The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

At the end of the Theater they had a really cool team of young people managing the place. To the last days of the Theater the HUGE red curtian still raised and lowered for each show. The only way to start a proper Theater experience.

As they were demoing the Theater I walked right into the shell of the Theater I loved, with the sun washing in I asked outloud. “What are you doing, you don’t fell bad at all?” to the stunned demo crew.
I guess the did not expect a young kid to wonder in and chalange them, or they just really did not care.

As it states above it is now a big grey box, there are still a fue small marks of the past. Look for them. Last I noticed was the Theaters Parking neon still in the parking lot across the streat. But lost was the inlayed concrete entrance, they swirled around and out to the streat.

tarantex
tarantex on June 18, 2007 at 1:53 pm

I managed the Millbare when it was a single screen what a beautiful
theatre the wood paneling all around the lobby two sets of double doors as you entered, the Box office to the side as you entered the marquee room was behind the box office the managers office was hugh it had high ceilings, itwas a Grand single screen. i remember always
keeping the neon lighted nothing was burned out when i was there , the United artists decided to triplex it so I moved back to the UA TANFORAN 4 until the triplex was complete i was at the Mall Cinemas before I went to Millbrae, When it was triplexed they did a good job the Lobby stayed the same the only thing was I had all the Lobby neon
replaced so it would be brighter, almost lost my job over it but the Naify’s were the best to work for, My boss Jim Gallager was the tops in my book. he gave me full run of managing there theatres i was there floating Manager , I was to clean up theatres that were in need
of a change in Management to bring the revenues and condition of poorly run theatres. sadly enough after cleaning up many lcations after I left one the next Manager ruined again. Running a Single screen was the most enjoyable experience I ever had when you sold out
and lines around the corner for the next performance it was great, the best thing was you had an hour to re coup, and then start all over again. with 20 screens you never have time to breathe. I did run an 18 plex Universal in LA , that was an experience , Again the Company I worked for was very good to there Managers [Cineplex-Odeon}
we also had the Plaza Twin and Northpoint two theatres I over saw for them and the St Francis Theatre downtown.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 17, 2009 at 1:12 am

The recent opening of the Millbrae Theatre was announced in the August 13, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The house was originally operated by Golden State Theatres.

Golden State had been planning a theater in Millbrae since late 1945, and intended to start construction in early 1946 on a house slated to be called the Tower, according to various contemporary issues of Boxoffice. Architect of the proposed house was Otto A. Deichman, but as construction was so long delayed I don’t know if his plans were ultimately used or not. The Tower was described as a 1200-seat theater with a stadium section.

DonLewis
DonLewis on April 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

From Millbrae a photo of the Millbrae Theater.

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