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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Walnut Creek, California

    My future movie commentaries have become...

    more limited with the closing of our Cine Arts Domed Theater. Seven or eight years ago, the city of Pleasant Hill CA, which borders my Walnut Creek, opened a new 12 theater cineplex. This was in direct competition with the domed theater, about five blocks east. It opened in 1967 as a Century 21, featuring a large CinemaScope style screen. In 1973 became backed by four smaller theaters. It featured several big movies, but usually one or two less popular, more arty movies. In 2003, it was converted to a CineArts and went almost exclusively to foreign and art films. (Recent example: Beasts of the Southern Wild on the big screen.) Only occasionally did they place a blockbuster into the dome.

    It was always part of a small shopping center, originally anchored by a Montgomery Wards store. When that folded, it took almost 10 years for the shopping center to replace it with a Kohl's department store. The city, fearing the demise of its tax base, successfully fostered a larger shopping district near the shopping center and the retail property values in town began to rise. Eventually the center got an offer from Dick's Sporting Goods that it could not refuse: dump the theater and rebuild the venue to Dick's specifications. There are any number of sporting goods stores in the area. Can Dick's even succeed?

    So retail property income has trumped the movie theater and the dome will be torn down in the next few days. It's a shame, because the 12 theater cineplex won't feel obligated to offer the independent films and we, as a community, will have lost a source of film art. Progress? Not hardly. We already have plenty of other cineplexes with multiple screens in the area. They all run the same films.

    Anyway, I'm now less likely to write about the smaller films. They won't be as convenient. Berkeley, San Francisco...nice places to visit, but...

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim3k View Post
    So retail property income has trumped the movie theater and the dome will be torn down in the next few days. It's a shame, because the 12 theater cineplex won't feel obligated to offer the independent films and we, as a community, will have lost a source of film art. Progress? Not hardly. We already have plenty of other cineplexes with multiple screens in the area. They all run the same films.

    Anyway, I'm now less likely to write about the smaller films. They won't be as convenient. Berkeley, San Francisco...nice places to visit, but...
    I have represented both shopping center owners leasing to theaters and sporting goods stores, and theater owners leasing space in shopping centers. That doesn't make me an expert on running a shopping center, theater or sporting goods store, but it does give me a bit of insight into the very real challenges involved.

    The loss of the theater is a shame, but with fewer and fewer people paying to put their rear-ends in movie theater seats (and, more importantly to the person paying all the money to put on the show, to buy food and beverages to pad their rear-ends), it is getting harder and harder for theater owners to afford to rent all that space, employ all those people, burn all those lights, pay for all that water . . . .

    As Montgomery Ward learned, it's tough to hold on when people stop visiting like they used to.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Walnut Creek, California

    The closing draws a columnist's lament

    Tony Hicks of the Bay Area Newsgroup also regrets the loss of this pretty special theater.

    The Dome was so head-and-shoulders above other theaters, we'd drive up from San Ramon in high school to see movies, bypassing our city's brand-new theater. It was where you took a date to impress her. I saw "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "Jurassic Park" movies there, because there was no way any regular theater could do justice to the special effects the way the Dome could. The last movie I ever saw in a theater with my grandmother was "E.T." at the Dome. In my 20s, I would meet friends at the bar next door, then go see movies such as the director's cut of "Apocalypse Now" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." The opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan" was absolutely mind-blowing on that screen.

    And now seeing the marquee, which says the theater is closed, is terribly sad. I promise you, nothing that eventually occupies that spot will create so many wonderful moments. Unless one has a strange attachment to sporting goods
    I dunno. The bar next door is a biker bar and has been for over 20 years. A good citizen, though.

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