THE SCREENING ROOM
A year-by-year, film-by-film history of 70-millimeter wide gauge exhibition in Southern California
Compiled by William Kallay
Theatres: Planned For 70mm And Others That May Have Been Equipped
During the theater building boom of the 1960s and 1970s, some theatres were
planned for 70mm projection. These were announced in Box Office magazine.
Once the theaters were opened, only 35mm projectors were installed by
opening day. Factors may have included cost, market revisions based on the
population, etc. Most of these theatres were built with large seating
capacity between 500-1000+ seats.
There were also theatres built during this time frame that may have been equipped for 70mm.* Despite Box Office's excellent coverage in those years, they didn't always say whether or not certain theatres had 70mm projection. Some were built as part of a twin or multiscreen complex and had at least one large auditorium. Without specific records, newspaper ads or projectionist information, we can only imagine if these theaters could show a 70mm print.
This list is a work-in-progress. When additional information is found, these listings may be changed.
Name (if applicable)
Seating capacity (if applicable)
Planned for 70mm, but 35mm projectors were installed instead. Eventually twinned, then closed.
Was to have had a 30x70-foot screen and parking for 200 cars. Originally called the "Crest." Was revised and downsized as the "Corbin" theatre (which was nearly identical to the Studio Theatre in Buena Park). Constructed in 1956.
October 3, 1963
This theatre was planned for 70mm, but was later installed with Motiograph 35mm projectors. It had an unusual sloped roof. It was eventually twinned and closed. The structure stills stands near a modern AMC megaplex.
Bruen's Whittier Theatres
Located in Whittwood Shopping Center. The theater was equipped with Japanese made Nichi-lon "Crown" 35/70mm projectors. The projectors installed at the Whittwood were set-up for 35mm only. However, they were capable of easily being converted to 70mm with a special kit. The theater also featured stadium-type seating and a 50-foot curved screen.
900-seats (main auditorium)
Located in shopping center. The theatre was an early example of twin theatres being built around the country. It's not known if this theater was equipped for 70mm projection, but given the main theater's size, it might have been. Theatre has been demolished.
Followed shortly after Edwards Newport Cinema was built. No confirmation yet if the theater was 70mm capable. Didn't survive long as a single screen theater. Eventually twinned and closed. Building still stands and has been used as a church for several years.
"South Coast Village"
500-seats [actual seating capacity may have been higher at the time of opening]
Triplex theater with one large auditorium and two smaller auditoriums. Located in shopping center and is located across from South Coast Plaza shopping mall. Still open. Near the former South Coast Plaza Theatres (now demolished).
Initially listed with 950-seats in Box Office announcement on September 11, 1961. Built in shopping center. Featured 50-foot screen and multichannel sound (no indication in opening day ad if this was 35mm multichannel or 70mm multichannel sound). "West Side Story" did play here in 35mm 4-track stereo. Eventually twinned. Closed down as movie house, then converted into a dinner theater and has been such for several years. It has operated as a dinner theater on-and-off for decades.
"Cinema I & II"
700-seats in largest auditorium (estimate)
Located outside of the Tyler Mall in the parking lot. According to Box Office, "Cinema II" was going to be equipped with a Dimension-150 projection system and screen. Dr. Richard Vetter, co-developer of D-150, isn't sure if this theater was equipped for the format. There were two other theatres in the region equipped; the Egyptian in Hollywood and Camelot in Palm Springs. He will check his records to verify. As for the theatre, it was either a four-screen complex by the time it opened, or a twin on opening day, then split into a four-plex later on. I have not been able to track down the original opening day ad as of yet. Theater became know known as "Tyler Mall." At least one screen was equipped for standard 70mm projection. A few movies were shown in the format during the 1980s. The theater has been demolished for a bookstore.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
SAN DIEGO COUNTY
Source: Box Office Magazine, various dates - Los Angeles Times