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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinema Yak   » Favorite Guilty Pleasure Cinema

Author Topic: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Cinema
Dan Roben

Posts: 155
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: May 2003

 - posted August 03, 2004 08:26 PM      Profile for Dan Roben           Edit/Delete Post 
Not to be confused with the Worst Cinema thread, I'm wondering if any of you have a guilty pleasure cinema, open or closed, that despite how awful it's run or designed, you still like (or liked) going there.

In Seattle, I'm thinking of two cinemas with similar names, The Aurora Village 4 and the Aurora I II III.

Both cinemas were built in the 70's, that heyday of tacky design. The Aurora Village 4 was opened in 1978 in the shell of a former supermarket (uh, oh!) by Tom Moyer's Luxury Theaters. If ever there was an argument for false advertising, Luxury Theaters is it. It was closed in the late 80's when the mall it was located in decided to do a major remodel.

Some of the special features of the Aurora Village included garbage cans placed strategially in the seating areas of each cinema (7 or 8 of them in the large 600 seat house, 3 or 4 in the smaller 200 seat houses), a Luxury Theaters exclusive AFAIK, air-conditioning ducts in the large house that hung too low from the low ceiling so that it blotted out a top portion of the screen, and the worst projection and sound I have ever been subjected to. The walls between the cinemas were so thin that dialog could easily be heard in the adjoining houses.

The Aurora Cinema I II III is your classic 1973 General Cinema build. Originally two screens (the I and II of course), it consisted of a 800 seat house and a smaller 500 seat house. A few years later, the large house was split down the middle to form the new II and III, two 350 seat tunnel vision houses.

You got your cinderblock construction, you got your grayish corrugated metal wall coverings, uncomfortable push-back seating, the incomparable General Cinema trailer, the generic "Cinema I II III" in large pseudo western lettering on the front of the theater, and of course the starving artists paintings hung in the lobby for sale. Tackiness at its best!

However, the Aurora had excellent sound and projection, and seeing a movie there was not a bad experience (at least in the larger house after the split). It closed a couple years ago after being remodeled into a cinema/restaurant that just couldn't make it.

I'd like to hear of others, especially if they're still open, as I travel a lot and would love to experience them before the inevitable happens.

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Bill Gabel

Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted August 04, 2004 12:19 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
With all the state of the art theatres around. I found my guilty pleasure cinemas were the theatres that were operating on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. You could see a double or triple feature at them. Ok, they were not stereo or had cup holders or the greatest of seats. You were sitting in a movie palace. If the film sucked at least you had the theatre to look at till the next feature. During the 80's these theatres had their last great go at showing movies. At that time video and cable were taking their tolls on the theatres admissions. During this time those theatre would fill up on the weekends. And you would 2000 people in one auditorium seeing a movie. During their last years as theatres you were lucky to have 20-50 in the same auditorium. But it was fun during those days.

I loved to go to the:

Los Angeles Theatre
Orpheum Theatre
State Theatre
Tower Theatre
and when it was running english features the United Artist Downtown.

Here in New York City, that type of theatre no longer is around.

But I have found the Loew's Jersey City Theatre. [thumbs up]

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Eric Hooper

Posts: 107
From: Santa Clara, CA
Registered: Apr 2003

 - posted August 05, 2004 11:56 AM      Profile for Eric Hooper   Email Eric Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
The Alexandria Theatre in San Francisco was my guilty pleasure, up until it closed in February this year. An old 1923 Egyptian themed movie palace that was severely butchered during tri-plexing in 1976.

The 'downstairs' auditorium had the original screen and was upgraded to Dolby Digital sound. However, the accoustics were so bad that depending where you sat in the auditorium the right/left and center channels would fade in and out. Not because the sound wasn't working, but just because the way the sound was absorbed into and bounced around the walls. The rows of seats were wretchedly close together and offered no legroom. Despite this, the 'downstairs' theatre was quite beautiful to look at and to be in, still sporting it's original art deco murals on the walls. The screen was also nice and large, and even though the leg room was sparse, the red velvet seats were quite comfy.

The original rear stadium section of the theatre was plexed into two 'upstairs' auditoriums. Since they used the same projection booth for all three screens, the upstairs screens needed to be off center to the side, to make way to project into the downstairs auditorium. The result is you had the original 1923 seats kind of facing toward the middle of the building (as if facing the original downstairs screen), but the upstairs screens slightly off center, either to the right or left. It wasn't as bad as I've seen it at other theatres, and to be honest, I kind of liked it. Ok, now here's the best part. The two upstairs theatres' sound were never upgraded to stereo or digital. These were the last two mono houses in SF showing first run films. The volume was also run quite low, so you really had to pay attention to hear the movie. Sometimes the bleed from the digital sound from the downstairs theatre, which bled horribly into the upstairs theatres, would be louder than the movie showing upstairs itself. Despite these things however, the upstairs theatres were very cozy and intimate. The stairways still featured the wall and seat lighting shining down on the stairways. The picture was always very bright and clear.

Even though very old school and definitely not up to today's theatre standards, The Alexandria was still a very cozy and fun place to spend a few hours at. I miss it very much.

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David Morrison
New Member

Posts: 46
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jul 2004

 - posted August 06, 2004 03:40 PM      Profile for David Morrison   Email David Morrison         Edit/Delete Post 
I don't believe in being guilty about my pleasures, but - well, all right.

Any of the Pussycat Theatres (Santa Monica, Sunset & Western, Ventura) while they were still in business. I never went in to any of them but they were scary - same thing with the Palm in San Mateo and (slightly closer) the Tiki Theatre in Los Angeles. I would be very curious to know the history of the Tiki, as it's the only theatre in Los Angeles left showing straight pornography. Last time my girlfriend and I went in there (Valentine's Day 2004 and no, it's not what you might think!), there was a lot of yawning and coughing emanating from various patrons during the triple-feature...

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Dave Felthous

Posts: 186
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Jun 2003

 - posted August 06, 2004 06:59 PM      Profile for Dave Felthous   Email Dave Felthous         Edit/Delete Post 
Oh, Dan, surely you didn't think the presentation at the old Aurora I-II-III was good! GCC finally caved and put Dolby in the big house because it wanted "Return of the Jedi" and Lucas wouldn't allow it to be shown in mono in competitive markets. You may remember that the left and right speakers were outside the perimeter of the screen, kind of disorienting to see something happen at the edge of the picture but HEAR it 8 or 10 feet away! The two small houses were mono until the Cinema Grill was created.

The Aurora Cinema Grill did very well, often selling out on weekends. The company that owned it, based in the South, I believe, was in financial difficulties and decided to get rid of its far-flung operations. Hence the Aurora died even though it was healthy. (That concept never appealed to me, so I never went there).

Yes, Aurora Village was massively awful. My present boss had her first job there, selling popcorn at age 15. I don't think Luxury paid much attention to labor laws. They fired all union projectionists and had high-school kids running the projectors, which helped contribute to the bad presentation.

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