CineArts at Hyatt

1307 Bayshore Highway,
Burlingame, CA 94010

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Hyatt Theatre 2012

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Hyatt Music Theatre was built a live theatre venue. It became the Hyatt Cinema Theatre on March 29, 1966. It was an “Ultramodern” theater shaped like a big spiked salad bowl with a marquee out front. It screened the roadshow versions of movies in the mid-1960’s. It later became a triplex and was closed in 2008.

Contributed by Donald John Long

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

dsikula on February 19, 2010 at 12:13 am

That photo from 2009 is indeed from the drive-in. It was next to the freeway, though, rather than near the screens.

I didn’t realize the place had closed until I drove by it last week. Guess it had been longer since I’d been there than I thought.

It was definitely run down, but it was a great and quirky place to see smaller films. It will be missed.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on February 20, 2010 at 5:55 am

Up in the intro it mentions “It was built to showcase the roadshow versions of the CINERAMA movies in the early-1960’s”. I’ve checked around and can find no information of this theater ever showing anything in CINERAMA or even Dimension 150.

Perhaps the plan was for it to be a CINERAMA Theater and it just never happened. Anyone know anything about that?

It may have showed 70mm roadshow movies, but as far as I can tell, not CINERAMA.

Anyone know the size of the screen and did it have any curvature?

If you go to the map and the satellite photo, the theater is at the top left hand corner of the photo, right on the waters edge. It is a white square with a brown circle in it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 6, 2010 at 3:27 am

Bob Jensen’s doubts about this theater’s history are justified. It was not originally built for Cinerama, or any other wide-screen process. In fact, it didn’t open as a movie theater at all, but as a live “theater-in-the-round.” It was originally called the Hyatt Music Theatre, and hosted both live theater, including musicals, and concerts by pop acts.

A comment by Dave Wills, the theater’s technical director, on this message board page at the Burlingame Historical Society web site says that the house opened in September, 1964, with a production of “Flower Drum Song” and closed in January, 1966, with a production of “Peter Pan.”

I think the house might have continued as a concert venue for a while after it stopped presenting Broadway musicals, and before it was converted into a cinema, as I’ve come across message board comments mentioning concerts there in 1967 and 1968. However, it’s possible that the conversion to a cinema included provision for such live events too. It was definitely showing movies by 1968.

This post at the SF Gate mentions the Hyatt. The author saw “The Empire Strikes Back” there, and says that “…the Hyatt had a huge curved screen that was the best I’ve seen anywhere north of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood”, so it was definitely equipped for 70mm movies after conversion.

The Hyatt Music Theatre is mentioned in Dorothy Dandridge’s posthumous biography/autobiography “Everything and Nothing.” She played Julie in a 1965 production of “Showboat” which was presented at the Hyatt.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on September 6, 2010 at 11:05 am

Off topic but when the Peninsula/Burlingame Drive-Ins opened, one screen was the Peninsula and the other was Burlingame. They operated as two separate theatres for all intents and purposes.

Concerning the Hyatt Cinema — the screen was curved but I don’t know of a time they ever showed Cinerama films. The main house was actually decent to watch a movie in, the balcony theatres were completely jacked with multiple entrances to various seating areas most of which were akwardly positioned away from the screen.

ajtarantex on May 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I was reading on Loop Net that the Hyatt is Now For Lease, the only thing missing is the seats they have put in folding chairs. It’s AVA starting May 30 th, 2012

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Here is an architectural rendering of the Hyatt Music Theatre. The theater was designed by architects Vincent G. Raney and Robert M. Blunk.

Raney, of course, was a well-known Northern California theater architect who designed dozens of movie theaters. Robert Blunk was a Burlingame architect who, as far as I’ve been able to discover, designed only one other house, the Hillbarn Theatre at Foster City, California, (1966) which, like the Hyatt, was a stage venue.

rivest266 on July 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm

March 29th, 1966 grand opening ad in photo section.

stevenj on July 12, 2015 at 9:46 am

The (single screen) Hyatt Cinema never showed Cinerama films. I saw a production of South Pacific (with Mary Martin) there when it was a theater in the round in the mid 60’s. After it became a single screen theater in ‘67 or '68 I saw Doctor Zhivago there on it’s very impressive large curved screen. After it was twinned I never went back.

rivest266 on July 19, 2015 at 9:37 am

December 15th, 1972 grand opening ad as a twin in photo section.

1KBrad on October 12, 2015 at 7:54 pm

I started working at the Hyatt Cinema in 1973 as a doorman. I was the manager from 1976-1977.

By the time I started working there, it was already a two-screen theater. As I recall, 720-seats in the large cinema and 189-seats in the small theater, which we called, “The Abortion.”

It was not well done. There was little sound isolation in the small theater and it was an odd, two-tiered seating configuration.

The large cinema was a delight. It was a very large, curved screen and was set-up for 70mm, 6-channel magnetic sound (although it was never used while I was there) and I don’t think all of the five speakers behind the screen were operational. As I recall, number 2 never worked.

I did borrow a print of Funny Lady from the Burlingame Drive-In one night as it had a 4-channel magnetic soundtrack. We had a crew party and turned the volume up after hours. It sounded pretty darn good (even if the movie was not all that).

A lot of memories there. Sorry to see it in the shape it is now.

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