South Coast Plaza II Theatre

3410 Bristol Street,
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

MSC77 on January 2, 2018 at 2:34 pm

My December 14th comment regarding the new “Close Encounters” article actually belongs on this page instead. I didn’t realize there’s a separate database entry for the #3 screen. Which begs the question as to why the two entries aren’t combined into one.

MSC77 on December 14, 2017 at 11:42 am

Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” opened here forty years ago today. This venue was among only about three dozen nationwide to play the movie in a 70mm presentation, and the engagement here played 42 weeks, the longest on record for this film in the United States. For more, please see my retrospective article celebrating the movie’s 40th anniversary.

Joe Pinney
Joe Pinney on February 5, 2017 at 7:16 am

Seeing the video of the demolition of the South Coast Plaza theaters is painful for me, especially since I spent so many memorable hours at this theater, seeing I don’t know how many incredible films from the late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Everything from Disney films like THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE and FREAKY FRIDAY to SUPERMAN to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to POLTERGEIST (opening night, Friday, June 4, 1982!) to re-releases of the first two STAR WARS films to DIE HARD to BRAVEHEART. This was, at one time, one of the premiere theaters in Orange County. Many 70mm presentations. To see it just unceremoniously trashed like this, so completely erased from existence with no trace that it was ever there……that hurts. It was there, dammit. I loved going there. Why’d they have to go and tear it down?

Logan5 on October 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm

“The Rocketeer” was presented at Edwards South Coast Plaza in 35mm Dolby Stereo beginning on Friday June 21, 1991.

Richie_T on July 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Here’s a link to the demolition of the South Coast Plaza Theaters. Try to get past the music by Live. The video is sad enough already.

CTCrouch on July 4, 2011 at 12:56 am

Miscellaneous trivia: The South Coast opened as National General Corp’s 263rd theatre.

Today, the site is a well maintained grass lot; popular for office breaks and as a walkway to/from the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

BruceForrest on April 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

My parents, Sam and Dorothy, worked maintenace at the original single-screen theatre, from 1969, up until when it became a twin, and, later, when Edwards bought it up. Was sad to see the building get demolished.

bkazmer on March 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm

My ex was at that Premiere night when Debbie Reynolds appeared. She has a photo or two from that night. Rats, I suppose I better ask her about that now. She was 17 years old when that occurred and we were married 3 months later. Scandalously young.

GaryParks on March 14, 2008 at 12:08 pm

When I saw the pre-demolition photos of this theater, I realized that this is where I saw “Sleeping Beauty,” in about 1971 or so. This was the only time we attended this theater. We lived in Seal Beach then, and went to South Coast Plaza for shopping, but never for movies, save this one time.

CTCrouch on March 14, 2008 at 2:17 am

I stopped by and checked out the demolition today (3/13). The South Coast Plaza theatre was already down to walls and framework, the interior a pile of rubble; it had already been somewhat stripped, prior to demolition (as mentioned in an earlier post). However, the Plaza III turned out to have been relatively intact prior to the demolition; poppers, coke towers, menu boaards, screen, speakers, seating, etc. had all been there. It was almost as if Edwards had closed one night and never returned. Seeing such an intact theatre being torn apart was extra sad.

Manwithnoname on March 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm

When the FOX Twin in Palos Verdes closed the manager, Harry Kotsos (Mr. K) moved over as manager of this theater. As a favor, I would occasionally drive out from Torrance to assist if he was short handed. These trips for a friend were the last time I saw him so this place had fond memories for that reason. I believe “Saturday Night Fever” was playing on one of those trips. While I remember the lobby I do not remember the interiors of the twins. For a short time I was also Assistant Manager at the FOX Cinemaland after the horrendous tri-plexing.

William on March 12, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Well this makes the second theatre that the firm of Harold W. Levitt and Associates to get razed in the last few months. The other being the National Theatre in Westwood. Both are former NGC/Mann houses.

Flix70 on March 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Demolition has begun on this theater. I drove by today and saw just the frame left on screens I and II; a large green fence has been erected around the Plaza III and I can only assume its next, as the doors were open and it appeared they were in the proccess of gutting it. No idea what, if anything, will be going up in its place. Demo company is Ampco Construction. Sad day indeed.

MRY886 on October 7, 2007 at 9:47 pm

The architect of this theater was Harold W. Levitt and Associates of Beverly Hills.

CTCrouch on September 26, 2007 at 4:14 am

Sadly, much of this theatre’s interior is stripped down to the studs these days. While the windows have long been blacked out, I managed to sneak a peak at the lobby recently. Much of the ceiling is missing, the concession area is a skeleton, walls are stripped bare, and electrical conduit hangs loose everywhere. I’m guessing this stripped down state is left over from Edwards' pre bankrupcy remodel plans, as a heavy layer of dust suggests it’s been quite some time since anyone frequented the lobby.

mistertopps on June 12, 2007 at 1:36 pm

I remember going here once in college to see the movie Cube. I remember quite clearly how insane it was with how deep the theatre went. Especially when there are only 6 people in the audience, it’s just so bizarre. It was an overall odd experience, because I don’t think that particular film played anywhere else. Weird movie in a weird theatre.

moviebluedog on June 12, 2007 at 12:57 pm

I can’t understand why Edwards/Regal, now Regency, hasn’t chosen this theatre to keep it open as an art house. Theatre III is much bigger than the South Coast Village and has a superior screen and sound system (at least when it was open.) It has stadium seating in the upper level of the auditorium and very good sightlines. If someone did re-open this theatre, they could do very well with art house product and revivals.

The original South Coast Plaza theatre (the twinned version) was supposedly very nice when it was a single screen. Very similar to many of the NGC theatres built in the 1960s. I’ve only been to it as a twin. I loved the lobby, but seeing movies in the twin was like seeing a movie in a bowling alley.

View link

There is a brief history of the theatres, as well as a photo gallery, on the link above.

academy6 on May 25, 2007 at 6:09 pm

sorry, i was thinking of this one
South Coast Village – Santa Ana/Costa Mesa, CA
1561 W Sunflower Ave
Sunflower & South Coast Plaza Drive
Santa Ana, CA. 92704
(714) 557-5701

academy6 on May 25, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Regency Theatres re-opened it a few months ago with many upgrades.

Flix70 on April 25, 2007 at 1:16 pm

I have very fond memories of the Plaza III as well – Close Encounters, Superman:The Movie, Popeye, Temple of Doom to name a few. It had a nice lobby with two 180-degree ramp entrances, one on either side of the concession stand, that always made you feel like you were entering someplace special, almost regal. You always hoped the big event movies played at either the Big Newport or the Plaza III. No other theaters in OC even came close. I basically grew up in the dark there over three decades – flicks with my mom in the 70s, school buddies in the 80s and girlfriends in the 90s. Rounders was the last film I saw there shorly before its closure in ‘98. I wish
some independent would take it over, make it special again. Movie lovers would come.

moviebluedog on April 4, 2006 at 5:18 pm

I saw “Die Hard” the first time at the South Coast Plaza Theatre III when it opened in Orange County. The print was a 35mm Dolby print. I remember loving the film, but being disappointed that I didn’t take the drive to Westwood to see it in 70mm. The 35mm print, in my opinion, didn’t have the “oomph” and excellent print quality of a 70mm print. (Fox, along with many other studios in 1988, wasn’t releasing a lot of widescreen or 70mm prints. It was a pretty dry year for movies). I was disappointed that OC didn’t get a print, but perhaps Fox didn’t have enough confidence in the film to release more 70mm prints.

I did, later that summer, take a drive to Westwood and saw it at the Avco. Wow! What a difference! This was the best 70mm presentation I had seen at that point in time. Even the best 70mm shows at the Cinedome, City Center or “Big” Newport couldn’t compare with the Avco. Awesome sound (THX, when it was done right and meant something to an audience), and a crisp 70mm print—-plus a packed house with 1100 people. Really spectacular! I could hear bullet casings dropping to the floor in some scenes (or a scene as I recall); the helicopter flying into Century City sounded like it was in the Avco auditorium. Too bad that the main auditorium was split in two in 1993. I guess GCC, like most theatre operators, didn’t learn a thing from the carvings from the 1970s.

I, too, saw “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” at South Coast “III.” What an experience. I remember the opening credits and jumping out of my seat when John Williams' score come crashing over the loudspeakers. And the mother ship’s loud, bassy response to the humans at the end of the film—again, jumped out of my seat. I’ve seen this film in 35mm DTS at the Cinerama Dome (and of course on a small television screen for many years) and it’s just not the same as that 70mm presentation I saw way back in 1977/early 1978.

Thanks for the memory update, Papibear! :)

papibear on April 2, 2006 at 12:15 am

I saw many, many films at this theater as well as the “backhouse” or Theater III, which was an extremely popular theater during the 1980s. All three Star Wars films and all three Indiana Jones films were shown in Theater III in 70mm, as were Superman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a re-release of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty in 70mm, Gone With The Wind in 70mm, Poltergeist in 70mm (I sat in the third row on opening night, first show, and still clearly recall literally jumping out of my seat at the clown doll scene), Braveheart (not sure if it was 70mm), Aliens, and many others. In the twinned side, I recall seeing numerous 70s Disney live action films like Hot Lead and Cold Feet and The Cat from Outer Space, as well as various other comedies and dramas, including the Japanese film The Makioka Sisters in a special screening in Theater II. I clearly remember seeing Die Hard in 1988 in Theater I, and being absolutely blown away by the subwoofers during the scene where Bruce Willis drops the chair strapped with C-4 down the elevator shaft. I have NEVER been able to duplicate the depth and intensity of that explosion on ANY home theater system since. It was awesome. I seriously thought the wall behind the screen was going to cave in, it was that strong.

Here’s a photo of the twinned side – View link

moviebluedog on January 7, 2006 at 6:26 am

I should add that both UA and Edwards are now owned by Regal Cinemas.

moviebluedog on January 6, 2006 at 6:06 pm

The UA Cinema is on Sunflower across from Sears. That theatre has a large auditorium and still runs films (independent) and seasonal classic film festivals (mostly films from the 1980s). It’s been operated by Edwards for some time now.

RobertR on January 2, 2006 at 3:24 pm

I have a 1975 ad for a UA Cinema tri-plex located on South Coast Plaza. Is this the same theatre?