UC Theatre

2036 University Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94704

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New Marquee for the UC Theatre, Berkeley Ca

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The 1,300-seat UC Theatre closed in March 2001 after 84 years in business when the downtown art house was no longer able to survive on poor ticket sales.

An upcoming seismic retrofitting had been deemed too expensive by Landmark Theatres and its parent company, Silver Cinemas, which recently filed for bankruptcy. Already in debt and littered with unpaid bills, the UC Theatre could not afford the $300,000 retrofitting cost.

The only hope now is with the city of Berkeley itself, where the mayor is still looking into a plan to keep the theatre in business and, possibly, even renovate the structure.

Many local residents hope that Gary Meyer, who co-founded Landmark Theatres and ran the UC Theatre in the late-1970’s, will save the theatre and reopen it —a feat he accomplished with the Balboa Theatre in nearby San Francisco.

In March 2015, work began on a renovation/restoration project to convert the theatre into a live music venue.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 37 comments)

putman on September 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm

The UC is coming back to life, as a live music venue…
View link

juliagreen on March 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm

The UC was such a great place to see a film!
Growing up in 1970s Montana I did not have much of an opportunity to see anything but mainstream Hollywood movies. Moving to Berkeley in ‘86, it was the UC that made me a lover of the independent cinema. I too have been saddened when I have happened by there in recent years.

idjones942 on December 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I’m curious to know if there are any photos of the inside of the house, prior to the fire in the 1940s?

bmsinmd on March 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I was so sad to learn of the demise of the UC. After my marriage ended and I became the sole parent of two adolescent boys, I began bringing them from Orinda to Berkeley 2 or 3 times a month. We discovered samurai movies together there: Zatoichi, the blind masseur swordsman, was our favorite. One evening I arrived to find a line for tickets clear around the block; the show was 47 Ronin, a samurai epic cherished in Japan. Also saw The Last Waltz and Woodstock there, discovered many rock performers thereby. Wonderful memories of the movies, esp. the audiences, and the ambience. My kids, now in their 40s, dearly remember those times too.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

The February, 1919, issue of The Architect and Engineer of California featured a portfolio of the work of James W. Plachek, architect of the UC Theatre. There are two exterior photos of the theater and, following a page of text, two interior photos depicting the foyer and lobby (scroll down.) Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on the + sign in the toolbar at the bottom right of the web page.

ErinHaggerty on January 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I loved/love the UC Berkeley. Many a great night was spent there..Harold & Maude, Road Warrior, etc. etc. And I loved the folks that worked there!

mlind on April 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Plans to reopen as a music venue.


walterk on April 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I’ve just uploaded a picture of the new marquee installed earlier this week, here is a link to the Berkeleyside article mentioned in a previous post, and this is a link to the nonprofit that will be running the UC when it reopens.

walterk on April 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm

The status of the UC should be changed to renovating and restoring, work began last month to convert it to a live venue, mostly featuring music. March began with a seat giveaway on the 1st, those interested were invited to come and help themselves to sets of seats, take as many as you can transport. Individuals and local organizations and businesses took away about 500. By the following Saturday, all the seats had been removed and on the 15th, official groundbreaking ceremonies were held and construction began, no opening date has been set yet.

Here is an article from Berkeleyside about the groundbreaking and other info.

The UC will be run by the Berkeley Music Group, a nonprofit organization headed by David Mayeri, which has a website here with loads of info and an interesting drone tour of the theatre. They also have a flickr page with tons of pictures in 8 albums, including historical pictures and shots from the seat giveaway. Unfortunately flickr does not permit embedding links, so this one you’ll have to cut and paste, sorry about that..


DavidZornig on July 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Print ad added.
Berkley California Daily Gazette-Tuesday July 8th, 1924 Edition. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Allan.

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