Cinedome Theatres

3001 W. Chapman Avenue,
Orange, CA 92868

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Cinedome Theatres

One of Orange County’s premiere theatres, particularly for 70mm presentations, during the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s. It was originally owned and operated by Syufy Enterprises, which later changed its name to Century Theaters, Inc. It opened with 2-screens in June 1969 and expanded with two more screens in November 1974. Two more screens were added on June 29, 1977. On November 11, 1986 another two screens were added. Three more screens were added on February 19, 1992.

I recall seeing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Hot Stuff”, “The Black Hole”, “TRON”, “Back to the Future”, “Total Recall”, and other films there.

A terrific theatre that never should have been closed or demolished, but it was, in favor of a modern multiplex built not far on the site of the former Stadium Drive-In. The link has a ton of info on the Cinedome.

Contributed by papibear

Recent comments (view all 52 comments)

Richie_T
Richie_T on April 2, 2017 at 5:57 pm

My one and only visit was so memorable… Raiders of the Lost Ark, summer 1981. We almost didn’t make it on time because a tanker truck jackknifed on the freeway and exploded. We literally took our seats as the Paramount logo appeared on screen. The vast dome was packed. My 8 year old brain experienced its first dose of cinematic bliss. What a ride! It was the last time our family of four saw a movie together. Divorce happened shortly thereafter.

Flix70
Flix70 on April 24, 2017 at 10:06 am

Seeing Raiders @ the Cinedome was pretty memorable for me, too. My parents had divorced a few years earlier and my dad took me to see it that first Sunday of release. We rarely saw movies together (my mom and I generally went Saturdays) so it was kind of cool seeing a big action flick sitting next my old man.

Just a wonderful, enveloping cinematic experience from start to finish. I remember lifting my feet off the dark ground during the Well of the Souls sequence because I was freaked by all the snakes.

Easily one of my best memories of spending time with my dad.

Coate
Coate on June 19, 2017 at 2:38 pm

The Cinedome was among just eleven theaters in the United States that installed the then-new Dolby Digital sound system for their engagement of “Batman Returns” which opened twenty-five years ago today. And here’s the link to a retrospective article that commemorates the occasion.

OCGirl
OCGirl on May 13, 2018 at 10:10 pm

I loved this theatre. I saw Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, just to name of few. You had to see those kinds of movies at the Dome. I was heartbroken it was closed down and it was really hard to watch it be demolished.

Dave Tavres
Dave Tavres on April 9, 2019 at 9:58 pm

FYI – the link above (Related Websites – The Final Curtain For The Cinedome) is broken, but here’s an updated link to the same article – https://www.in70mm.com/newsletter/2000/62/cinedom/index.htm

rivest266
rivest266 on November 19, 2019 at 3:32 pm

1977 and 1992 grand opening ads posted.

Zubi
Zubi on November 26, 2019 at 6:57 pm

Cinedome-Orange did not open with four screens as indicated above. As shown in the grand opening ad in the photos section for this theatre, it opened in 1969 as an enormous twin, with, approximately-speaking, two 900-seat domed ampitheatre-seating auditoriums (neither of which was ever divided for the life of the complex). Each of these two original, giant domes was as big as or bigger than the Cinerama-Hollywood. In 1974 two large, conventional houses were added (one 600-seater, the other 400). In 1977 two medium-sized domes, again with ampitheatre seating, were added (each around 400-seats). In 1986 two more conventional houses were added (also around 400-seats each). Finally, three more domes were added in 1992. At just under 300-seats each, these last three were “small” only when compared to Cinedome’s other auditoriums (each would’ve made a nice main house in any normal multiplex of the time). The total capacity for this 11-plex was around 5600. Cinedome-Orange’s box office and snack bar grosses were staggering (among the highest in the country). Five of the houses had 70mm capability: Four 70 projectors were from the original twin (from the pre-platter/changeover era when each screen required two projectors) and one 70 projector was brought over from City Center (after it was acquired by Syufy/Century). 70 was run frequently—in both domed and conventional auditoriums (along with all of the latest digital sound formats of the time).

Zubi
Zubi on November 26, 2019 at 7:58 pm

One more thing: “Orange Century Cinedome 11” as headed above is wrong. The actual building name was simply Cinedome Theatres (no screen #, no circuit name). Colloquially (and mainly within Syufy/Century), it was called Cinedome-Orange to distinguish it from the chain’s other Cinedome locations in California; but that was not its marquee name. And newspaper ads and supplemental signage used all manner of branding designations, depending on the period (a gothic “S” insignia, the 90s “Century” logo, etc.). Even the auditorium numbers were changed. Theatres 1-11 were originally called 20-30 (in keeping with the Century 21 numbering system like that seen in San Jose).

Zubi
Zubi on November 27, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for fixing the name, Ken. It’s perfect now. The expansion history in the opening overview is still incorrect, however (Cinedome-Orange didn’t open with 4 screens, it opened with 2). If my wordy history above is too long, you can always just say it opened as giant twin domes in 1969 and then expanded in 1974, 1977, 1986, and 1992 to reach 11 large auditoriums (7 of which were domed) and 5600 seats. [BTW – UA City Cinemas 6 could also be added as a nearby theatre above—it was walking distance from this place.] Cinedome-Orange was an awesome complex. I was pretty fond of it as theatres go and liked many of the people I worked with there too. So, please forgive my setting the record straight.

rivest266
rivest266 on November 27, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Expansions:

  • 1 screen June 17th, 1969

  • 2 screens June 18th, 1969

  • 3 screens November 7, 1974

  • 4 screens November 13th, 1974

  • 6 screens June 29th, 1977

  • 8 screens November 11th, 1986

  • 11 screens February 19th, 1992

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