Ken Cinema

4061 Adams Avenue,
San Diego, CA 92116

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Ken Cinema - San Diego, CA

The Ken Cinema was opened in 1947, designed by noted architect S. Charles Lee in Art Moderne style. It was restored in 1975 after being taken over by the Landmark chain as a showcase for foreign features.

It has since expanded to include independent films and restored classics. It was the last theater remaining in San Diego which used reel-to-reel carbon arc projectors.

The Ken Cinema is also host to FALL OUT, San Diego’s gay and lesbian film festival.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on March 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Does anyone have any information on the Ken pre-1947 remodel? Did it actually show movies before then?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Pretty low ceiling in the auditorium!

Here’s a direct link to the photos posted on 8/19/11. (Thanks, Danny.)

exprojector23 on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 am

Sorry, the date you have for the Ken’s inception is wrong. It may have been conflated with the construction date for San Diego’s Hillcrest Theater (later the Guild).

One of the comments in the above link states that a resident “who has lived in Kensington since 1945, says he remembers only a vacant lot on the west half of the 4000-block of south side of Adams Avenue until the theater opened in 1947.”

Other local histories also support a 1947 opening, as does information passed to me by people who worked with the Ken’s Bob Berkum before his retirement in the early 1980s.

spliceandthread on January 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

Just an update as well. They no longer use the carbon arcs or reel to reel. They have a nice 4K digital and a platter system with their 35mm.

LomaUsher on March 2, 2014 at 12:50 am

I liked the Ken best during its days as a repertory cinema, with a new double-feature on the bill every day of the week! I remember going in for a film, getting a large cup of Celestial Seasonings orange-spice tea, and settling in. I suppose you still can…but whether the tea is the same or not, I couldn’t say! Great theatre. Also, back in about 1981 or 82, on many Saturday nights a trip to see “Dance Craze” the ska concert-film was the same as going to a concert. The theatre was packed, and everyone was in their seat, then when the music started, the whole place was on their feet and bouncing off the walls. What a great time! I left many molecules off the soles of my Penny-Loafers on the floors and carpets of the Ken!

neeb on April 15, 2014 at 2:13 am

Today, in things that suck,

This one hurts. In ways I can’t describe, it hurts.

neeb on April 28, 2014 at 4:45 am

And… it will live!

It’ll be closed from Monday to Thursday and be back on Friday, 02 May 2014.

markinthedark on April 28, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I wish Landmark had had the some reaction to community support when they shut the NuWilshire in Santa Monica, Rialto in Pasadena, Egyptian in Seattle, etc. It seems that rather than having a chain of cozy art house theaters as they want to be another Arclight with venues like The Landmark in West LA.

monika on March 23, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Just a quick note to point out that the Ken no longer runs carbon arc as is noted in the description above.

Ftopel on July 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Just walked by this theater and took some pics. The movie was on so I couldn’t get the auditorium, but box office, lobby, marquee and an old projector were on display.

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