Festival Cinemas 5

1450 N. California Boulevard,
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

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RobertMerk on October 20, 2016 at 4:39 pm

The Festival Cinemas 5 opened on Wednesday May 28, 1969 (coincidentally the same day the Capri theatre in Concord, CA opened). It originally opened as the Festival 1 & 11 with two screens. The first features were WINNING starring Paul Newman and THE LOVES OF ISADORA starring Vanessa Redgrave.

The Festival 1 & 11 would expand to (5) screens becoming the Festival Cinema Center on Wednesday June 30, 1971. The films playing were:

1) Plaza Suite

2) Tora, Tora, Tora

3) The Summer of 42

4) Love Story

5) Wild Rovers

Aytac on June 29, 2016 at 10:40 am

I too worked at Festival Cinema Center. I was the manager there. I think I stayed with the company for about a year while I lived in Concord. Those who worked with me would remember me as TURK or Aytac. Often wonder where they are now..

WBD1964 on April 25, 2014 at 8:36 am

I worked as an usher at FC5 from 1980-1984 then transferred to Regency in Pleasant Hill while I was going to DVC, til ‘87. I got the job at 15.5, thanks to my Mom who was a nurse at Rossmoor Manor and one of the owners Mom’s was her patient. I remember the first week I started a little movie came out called….EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!!! LOL! Great memories at the Festival Cinemas and great coworkers and yes I avoided the candy counter as much as possible!!

Prof David Ducay
Prof David Ducay on September 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

I use to work in the Tishman building on N California Blvd., don’t believe the theatre was torn down in 1981, because I do remember going here in 1994 to watch Quentin Tarantino’s film ‘Pulp Fiction’ with a friend.

fritolait on January 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I worked here from 84 to 87 or so. Fun job. Fond memories of bloo spooge, cleaning the drains under the drink machines, butter flavoring.

I got free tickets (like we didn’t get into whatever we wanted free anyway), when I cleaned up puke on I think side 1 when Gremlins was playing there and some kid couldn’t handle the microwave scene. Good times.

trainmaster on December 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Having been a former “real” projectionist, which required union membership, and apprenticeship when carbon-arch projection was the main source of the single screen theater, I hated (and still do)the multiplex theatre-type of operation.

But of all the “bird cages” that were built, I must say the Festival in Walnut Creek was, at least, the nicest of all that I have seen.
I remember the arcade booth upstairs. I believe the same company opened the Regency in Pleasant Hill. These two multiplexs were very nice for that type of operation, but if you saw the Roxy Theater in New York, or the Fox Theater San Francisco, or the Radio City Music Hall, you will know what I mean by the term “bird cages.” I even used to call the Enean (Concord) and El Rey (Walnut Creek) Theaters “fly traps” compared to the large monster theaters, but the suburban theaters had a nice intimate atmosphere. The Orinda is a fine example of a gem.

The Festival could not last for the same reason the single screens disappeared – first, there was “twinning” – converting a single screen into two auditoriums….then the “four-plex” and along came the Festival (done in good taste)……movie distributors simply
sought out the larger complexes and ignored the smaller ones.

Now, they are tearing down 12 to 16 multiplexes in favor of larger ones. I certainly do not care for today’s designs and colors of
these new “broom closets.”

At least, the Walnut Creek Festival had taste in designs!

VincentT on June 14, 2009 at 2:53 am

I worked at the festival w.c. 1984-1987 and enjoyed it a great deal. I don’t recommend a movie theater as a first job because it will make you hate most future occupations. We would turn out all the lights after closing, grab flashlights and headsets, and engage in a creepy (pre laser tag) hunt occasionally. Also running employee only sneaks of films like Aliens, Untouchables, Brazil, and Clan of the Cave Bears (what the hell WAS that scampering noise in the booth!) was quite memorable.

damienryan on May 28, 2007 at 6:07 pm

This was my favorite theater growing up. A lot of ‘classics’ (mind you I’m a child of the 80s) I saw at this theater and fondly remember. This was also the theater that inspired me to get into the film industry. My God Mother took me to see the ‘muppet movie’ when I was a kid here and her daughter was a theater manager. she took me to the projector room after the film and being up there just ‘inspired’ me to get into this industry. About 15 years later I saw my first screen credit in that theater. This year I had my biggest screen credit yet and would have loved to have seen it there, sadly. It’s gone.

stuberman on February 17, 2007 at 10:09 pm

bfole… you should post your comments at the El Rey Theatre section at /theaters/10834/
Seems that people are only recalling the XXX days and after.

AT the Festival I remember watching “Blazing Saddles” and laughing my head off. Also remember watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and getting a lot of dirty looks when I roared with laughter.

bfole on December 21, 2006 at 11:30 am

I lived in Walnut Creek in the early 1940’s. I remember the El Rey theater quite well. Saw many movies there. I attended the Walnut Creek school (4th grade). I can remember our class going to see
“Bambi” there. Also remember the long line of people waiting to get
in to see “Gone with the Wind” when it played at the El Rey. Seems
like there was an El Rey hot dog stand next to the theater. There
was also the “Home Restaurant” on one end of town when you came in
from Oakland. There was a Walgreens in about the middle of town. I have happy memories of living in Walnut Creek in the early 1940’s.

GSenda on May 12, 2006 at 5:57 am

One of the last films to play there was The Odd Couple 2. We won tickets from a radio station.

George Senda
Concord, Ca

sdoppie on February 13, 2005 at 6:36 pm

I have a lot of fond memories of the Festival. It was always the nicest theater in the area, until the arrival of the Brendon in Concord, which is now oddly itself fallen out of favor.

lingo7609 on February 1, 2005 at 10:13 am

Sadly it was torn down and replaced by an office complex sometime in 1981. It’s not even that welcoming of a complex either.

source: View link

scottfavareille on February 1, 2005 at 9:44 am

Does anybody know about the El Rey theater that was on Main St in the downtown area. (I am assuming it is now either demolished and/or turned into retail)

DavePelca on December 2, 2004 at 2:30 pm

I too worked there as “Mr. Sunshine” the projectionist. If those booth walls could only talk.

KarenDemarest on July 28, 2004 at 6:21 pm

The ankle grabber was still there in 91-93?! I remember him, too!

lingo7609 on July 28, 2004 at 3:57 pm

Yes, even Festival has its own Friendster profile. This is the email to add them:
or search First Name: Festival Cinema Last Name: Walnut Creek

I loved/hated working here (91-93) ;) Very Melrose Place, but met my now ex-wife there and still in contact with most of the co-workers ten years later.

oh I miss the ankle-grabber.

RobertR on January 23, 2004 at 12:00 pm

Did this open in 1969 as a single or a 5-plex?

Tillmany on December 1, 2003 at 5:34 am

The Festival opened on May 29, 1969; the building it occupied
had originally been a Fuller Paints store and auto glass
installation shop. It closed on August 31, 2001, and was
razed on November 26th; the site is now occuped by
Mc Covey’s 44 Restaurant and a Thomasville Furniture store.

KarenDemarest on November 22, 2003 at 1:29 pm

I worked at this theatre for 3 years as an assistant manager & a manager trainee. This theatre was the original location of the Festival Enterprises chain. It was the home office & theatre. The chain was sold to Mann Theatres about 1987. Festival Enterprises was very successful.

What a fun place to work, glad that others remember this theatre.

JasonBalch on October 13, 2003 at 9:31 am

Saw Oliver Stone’s “JFK” in this theatre many years ago.

This theater sat vacant for almost 2 years prior to demolition. It was completely demolished and the land was cleared within a week. A quickly-developed upscale shopping center now sits on the site. Nothing remains of the original structure.