BIG Cinemas Towne 3

1433 The Alameda,
San Jose, CA 95126

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Showing 1 - 25 of 37 comments

JohnRBales on July 29, 2017 at 10:29 pm

IMC6 was the name of their location in the Sunnyvale Town Center Mall. An ex-AMC 6-plex IIRC.

rlh100 on August 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Used to be a porno theater back in the 1980’s. I moved in up the street on Hester Ave in 1989. It shut down a year or so later killed by VCRs.

Mikeyisirish on December 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

GaryParks on October 13, 2010 at 11:48 am

Recently a fellow researcher and I stumbled upon a beautiful nighttime photo in the archives at San Jose State, which shows this theatre when it was newly minted as the Towne in the early 50s. It is a nighttime shot, and it shows that the marquee once had a little extra bit of metal sculpture—with neon—above the still-remaining curling neon at the marquee’s point. Also, the painted detailing which once decorated the floral metal sculpture on the facade is clearly visible, and shows that originally, this scuplture only had neon behind it, which glowed indirectly from around the sculpture’s edges, as remained the case until a lot of extra neon was added in recent years.
Finally, the box office which once stood to the Right of the entrance (marked today by a patch of concrete amid the terrazzo) is clearly visible.

John Fink
John Fink on May 18, 2010 at 5:37 am

Link doesn’t work – at least they’ve stopped lying to people by calling it a 6-plex!

michaelspaeth on February 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

Since the marquee is historic, the name of the theatre has returned to Towne with the grand re-opening. It is now monikered “BIG Cinemas Towne 3”. The interior has been completely renovated…

Pictures available here:

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on January 4, 2010 at 9:49 am

I believe the IMC6 was the name of a previous 6 screen theatre the company ran. I’ve seen it happen a few times with the Bollywood Theatres where they change venues but keep the same name because it became so identified with the original theatre. Perhaps it’s a way of saying “Hey – it’s still us – not some other people – you can trust us!”.

The NAZ8 (at the old GCC Fremont Hub 8) kept their name NAZ8 even when they moved to an old Super Saver 7 down the road in Fremont, CA. I think the IMC6 comes from an old UA house in Lakewood, CA.

John Fink
John Fink on January 4, 2010 at 9:34 am

Anybody else find it unreasonably stupid the theater is called the IMC6 – an acronym for Indian Movie Center 6 when it only has 3 theaters?

CSWalczak on December 25, 2009 at 2:48 pm

The theater is now under new ownership and should be listed as BIG Cinemas San Jose. In addition, there should be another aka: IMC6. See story here: View link

kencmcintyre on October 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm

This article about Bollywood was in the LA Times today:

glenwelden on April 13, 2009 at 9:23 am

Glen Welden & Associates has just completed the neon restoration of the marquee for The Towne Theatre. An extensive process involving 140 man hours, multiple neon tube and wiring replacements as well as the removal of over 350+ pounds of used transformers, wiring and bird refuse from the roof of the marquee structure. The decorative wall neon was replaced and the original four point flasher unit was restored to allow the “chasing” of the red and white neon up the facade of the theatre.
Many thanks to Danny Colburn of Associated Sign, Hayward California, for his exhaustive work on the marquee.
Glen Welden & Associates is the exclusive United States Re-Imaging firm for Phoenix Adlabs Theatre Group located in Mombi, India. Adlabs was the production firm for “Slum Dog Millionaire”, a recipient of 8 Academy Awards.
The Paletta Group, Atlanta Georgia is the U.S. Distribution firm for Adlabs.
Thanks to Adlabs for thier appreciation and support in the restoration of The Towne Theatre Marquee.
Photos of the restoration can be viewed at www/

kencmcintyre on December 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Here is an item in Boxoffice magazine, April 1950:

SAN JOSE, CALIF-The Harvey Amusement Company has purchased the Hester Theater here from Milton and Kirk Samis. The circuit plans a $10,000 remodeling job. The building which houses the theater was sold last year for $100,000 to E.H. Emmick of San Francisco. The late Milton Samis Sr., father of Milton and Kirk, operated the theater for more than 20 years. O.B. Caldwell is the Hester’s new manager.

Wurlitzer1773 on October 20, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Thought this might be interesting to some of the Avenue Theatre Silent and Townne Theatre Film Fans – I now own the Wurlitzer Opus 1773 that was installed in this theatre in the 1960’s. After the Avenue Theatre’s owner died the arrangement with the organ’s owners and the theatre’s new owners deteriorated and the organ was moved to the Towne Theatre in San Jose for a period. After its time there the instrument was removed and stored.

In 2005 the organ was packed and trucked to FL where it is being professionally installed in my studio after restoration takes place. This 3 year process is about over and I’m expecting a truck on Oct 27 to arrive here and installation to begin.

I’m proud to be the new curator of this piece of history.

Eric on April 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm

A new Thai restaurant that everyone is raving about opened next door to the theatre recently…

GaryParks on April 11, 2008 at 2:03 pm

To at least in part answer the prior poster’s question as to what sort of facade improvements were being done: All of the neon has been repaired, for one thing. In addition, some of the decorative tubing on the marquee which was previously all white is now green and magenta, which really looks nice. At present, there are no letters placed on the reader boards, though at night the lights are on, posters are in the cases, and people are seen going in and out and hanging out in front or in the lobby.

rp2813 on April 17, 2007 at 5:38 am

A recent article in the Rosegarden Resident weekly neighborhood newspaper advised that facade improvements had been made to the Towne. Sorry, it’s always going to be the Towne to me and the neon will bear me out on this. Calling it the “IMC6” or “India Movie Center” sounds like this place is a non-descript box in a Sunnyvale strip mall. I have not been by this theater yet to see what kind of work was done but it appears from the news article that no major architectural changes were made. Upscale businesses are opening adjacent to this theater so I’m hopeful the Camera Cinema guys will find it to be a worthwhile venue for independent films again sometime soon.

danwhitehead1 on September 10, 2006 at 4:12 pm

There was a short period of time when Walnut Properties/Pussycat Theatres was affiliated with this house. I worked for them and was at the house some time in the ‘80s to install a Xetron automation system. I don’t really remember much about it apart from the fact that it was a wonderful old house and I wish I’d have had time to explore it. In a storeroom underneath the projection booth were two old pieces of equipment which I’m pretty sure were the “turntables” for the old Vitaphone sound system. I wonder if anyone did anything with them other than throw them away?

Dan Whitehead
Irving, Tx.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 26, 2005 at 1:15 am

When opened as the Hester Theatre it had a seating capacity given as 812.

bobosan on August 26, 2005 at 12:39 am

I saw many movies at the Towne during the ‘90s, mostly art-house type flicks. They showed many gay/lesbian movies. Unfortunately, the main theater desperately needed to be refurbished – the seats were very uncomfortable, and the air conditioning system was terrible. I saw “Boys Don’t Cry” here and it was so noisy when the heating system kicked in that it was hard to hear the dialogue. Last I saw, it was showing movies from India. The place was once owned by the Camera Cinemas, which operate theaters in San Jose and Campbell that are important locales for film festivals and art-house flicks.

GaryParks on March 22, 2005 at 1:53 pm

Interesting comment about the “Hansel and Gretel” decor. My naming of the original style as Spanish Colonial is however based on a photo I’ve seen of the original facade, which was unquestionably Spanish Colonial, with a Mission silouhette and a pair of finials, as well as the fact that the proscenium and the arches along the twin staircases leading to the restrooms are unquestionably Spanish. People’s impressions of architectural styles can vary greatly. In one early description of the Hester/Towne which I read long ago, the decor was described as “Egyptian.” There’s no further evidence to support this, so it likely was someone’s long-ago comment based on their own impression, or perhaps the architect’s original idea was to have designed an Egyptian theatre but the concept was changed before construction. As to the Hansel and Gretel/Witch’s Hut idea, this could have been an impression derived from woodgrained beams and stenciling, as well as faux stonework, which did exist in this theatre. Some of the faux stonework is still visible in the exterior ticket lobby, though covered by many layers of paint. The scored stucco imitating blocks of stone is still visible. In many Spanishoid buildings of the 1920s, the dark beams with simple, almost folkart style stenciled patterns can indeed give a more primitive storybook appearance which could easily come under the Hansel and Gretel appelation.

rp2813 on February 24, 2005 at 8:30 am

One of the comments above by Mr. Parks states that the original interior design of the Hester theater was “Spanish colonial” but a friend of mine who was a San Jose native and whose father did a lot of the ornate plaster work in theaters and other buildings in town. He advised that the Hester had more of a rough-hewn timbered Hansel & Gretel type look to it that as he described had a “witch’s hut” feel to it. I can’t remember if he said it’s all still there, just covered over by the moderne post-war re-do, but I kind of remember being told that or reading that this was the case. So maybe this thing about it being haunted has to do with the original decor that made it feel haunted right from the day it first opened. This friend passed away several years ago so I don’t have any way to confirm his statements about the original decor.

STELLARB on January 20, 2005 at 5:29 pm

That’s correct.I worked there for about 6 months in ‘85 ,and we’d report the weekend receipts to the ATG head office in Arizona. There were a couple of us who worked there,myself included,that believe the theatre’s haunted.Just about every one involved with the place from when I worked there has since died or comitted suicide. (John D,if you’re still around send me an email**)

scottfavareille on January 20, 2005 at 3:39 pm

When it started doing porn in the early 1970’s, it was operated under Louis Sher’s Art Theater Guild circuit.

GaryParks on November 20, 2004 at 2:35 pm

Like it or not, I have frequently seen large groups of Indian folks gathered at the entrance to the Towne. Indians are avid moviegoers. I have a great appreciation for many aspects of Indian culture and have even seen a few films from India. Sure, I’d rather see the Towne continue on as an art house, but if Indian product keeps the doors open, so be it. One of these days I may get my wife to gather together a few of the Indian-American folks from her work and go see a movie there…that way at least they could explain to us what’s going on with the story, as I doubt there’ll be subtitles.