CineArts at Hyatt

1307 Bayshore Highway,
Burlingame, CA 94010

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Coate on July 31, 2017 at 3:10 pm

EmpressDR: It’s highly doubtful you saw “The Empire Strikes Back” at the Hyatt in May 1980 since it is very well documented that “Empire” opened during that timeframe exclusively at the Northpoint in San Francisco (plus one theater in Santa Clara County and one in Marin County). Everyone else in the Bay Area had to wait at least a month before the movie’s release broadened.

stevenj on July 29, 2017 at 1:06 pm

An April 2017 Google map street view shows the theater building still there and just a few weeks ago I drove down the Bayshore Freeway and it is still standing.

EmpressDR on July 29, 2017 at 11:05 am

@Joe Vogel, yes it made me mad that they plan to turn it into office buildings, disgusting. Also, when you gave that link to the post about seeing Empire Strikes Back, etc., I had thought it was one of MY posts, but no an author wrote about it! I reside in Southern California now, and the Hyatt screen was THE BIGGEST I have ever seen — I haven’t yet been to the Cinerama Dome, but I bet it is about the size of the Hyatt. I think the large curved screen of the Hyatt was chosen because it would fit the curve of the theater; and it had to be either a Cinerama or Todd-A-O screen. I think it might have been a Todd-A-O. I would like more info on the Hyatt. I was annoyed at the little theater, which I called “The Closet” haha yuck to hear how the theater staff called it, 1KBrad. I was upset with the theater for showing The Blue Lagoon, ET, and Fiddler on the Roof (when it was re-showing in the 1980s) in the Closet instead of the big theater. I think my first film in the big theater was The China Syndrome, and in 1979 Star Trek the Motion Picture, and in May 18, 1980 I was excited to see Empire Strikes Back, and paid to see it many times (though it never had a bargain matinee, for the entire run and I had to buy Bass tickets so I didn’t have to stand in line! I hated seeing Return of the Jedi at Tanforan Park’s lousy multiplex, how miserable. I never forgave Hyatt for not getting that one.) I was sorry that they cut the big theater in half, but hoped it would help the stay afloat— when the original trilogy Star Wars films were re-issued in 1997, I planned to travel by Greyhound JUST to see them at Hyatt, even JUST Empire Strikes Back — but NO, the Hyatt didn’t have the intelligence to get those! Did they EVER show Empire Strikes Back once they became a retro theater? If they’d shown it in the BIG theater, I would spent money to travel just to see it! Even the IMAX theaters I’ve been to have smaller screens than the Hyatt in Burlingame had!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 22, 2016 at 3:38 am

The Hyatt may not be with us much longer. A May 5 article in the San Mateo Daily Journal this year reported that plans are afoot to redevelop the property with an office complex and restaurant. The nearby Burlingame Drive-In site is expected to be redeveloped as well, with an even larger office project.

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.

rivest266 on July 19, 2015 at 9:37 am

December 15th, 1972 grand opening ad as a twin 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 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Paul on January 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm

The Hyatt opened in the mid 60’s as the Hyatt Theatre-in-the-Round, doing touring productions of plays and musicals. As a kid, I saw PETER PAN with Kathryn Crosby. It couldn’t compete with the Circle Star in San Carlos, so after a few years, it became a single-screen theatre, called the Hyatt Cinema. Around 1970 it was twinned, but they did a terrible job (I remember watching FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and hearing the sound from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE bleeding into the theatre). At some point they carved out a third theatre. I moved out of the area, but on a business trip in 2006, I was staying at the Hyatt so I went to see a forgettable movie one night. It was really sad to see how far the old gal had sunk. The restrooms were filthy and rundown and the theatre had the unmistakable air of death.

kencmcintyre on May 16, 2009 at 12:00 am

I don’t know where this goes. The drive-in had four screens, but this doesn’t look like a drive-in.

kencmcintyre on September 25, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Here is a November 1968 ad from the San Mateo Times:

RobertR on April 30, 2007 at 2:22 am

Damn too bad I never got to see a movie here.

chnsn63 on April 29, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Theater is now CLOSED as of last week…the beginning of what will likely be many closures by its new evil corporate parent, Cinemark theaters.

RobertR on December 14, 2004 at 8:21 am

Next time I am in San Francisco I will go see a movie there. I hope it survives.

Eric on November 24, 2004 at 7:47 pm

The inside is 60’s too!

RobertR on November 22, 2004 at 10:41 am

I drove by this theatre once after landing at the airport. I wanted to go inside because the outside looked so 60’s.

scottfavareille on November 22, 2004 at 9:48 am

Now called the CineArts @ Hyatt as of this week.

stevemcgarrett on January 27, 2004 at 9:22 pm

The Hyatt owned by Century Theaters is a tri-plex, “1” main screen & “2” smaller screens. The surroundings of the place exterior-wise still in the 70’s… Star Wars Episode 1 was the first ever movie that I saw there. Movie houses in SF would have been too crazt to deal w/ so me & my roomate came here. The main theater is really big and cinemadome in appearance. The seats well is not soo great nor not in the best of shape but beats the awful seats at Century 8 San Bruno or Century 12 Redwood City..
That was back in 1999 & Now The Hyatt continues on into 2004 showing Art-House oriented movies.