header image 2

The Forgotten Brookhurst Theatre

January 16th, 2009 by ccrouch

Opened on April 5, 1961, Anaheim’s Brookhurst Theatre was the first Orange County cinema to feature 70mm films and was one of the county’s finer movie going destinations, well in to the 1970’s. At the time of the theatre’s opening, the design was termed “ultra modern” and the amenities were considered a step above other county movie going options. As a result, the theatre’s early popularity was such that an all loge seating satellite venue was added in the early 70’s (the Brookhurst Loge) and the cinema’s googie style, a-frame, street sign was an often referenced area landmark.

Brookhurst Theatre Circa 1992

Unfortunately, by the mid 80’s, the theatre had begun to suffer from a declining neighborhood demographic and the industry’s conversion to a multi screen business model. Attempting to stay viable, the theatre was briefly closed in the early 90’s, remodeled, and divided in to four auditoriums. This new configuration, while losing much of the theatre’s former grandeur, allowed the venue to stay afloat for another ten years. However, the Brookhurst’s reputation continued to decline, as the site fell in to disrepair, under a revolving door of operators. Even a brief attempt at offering discount booking failed to attract a sizeable audience, forcing the theatre’s final operator, Starplex Cinemas, to shudder the venue, under mounting maintenance expenses, in early January of 2006.
Despite having served the Anaheim area for forty-five years, the Brookhurst’s passing garnered little notice from locals or the media. Having been the theatre’s keyholder/caretaker, for the past three years, I can attest that interest in the site was limited to a mere four halfhearted inquiries (none in regard to use as a cinema). Now, with Starplex’s lease having run out, I can only speculate as to the fate of the Brookhurst. More than likely, it’s decay will continue unchecked, until there is no other option but to demolish the site. 
Today, the Brookhurst Theatre sits, virtually forgotten, near the corner of Brookhurst and Ball. There are few reminders of what the theatre once was; the a-frame sign was removed long ago, the covered drive up entrance was remodeled in to a Filipino restaurant, the formerly notable 944 seat auditorium is cheaply divided in to four irregularly shaped shoebox theatres, and the “ultra modern” design is best described as “ultra dingy”. Few even realize the beauty school, that stands beside the theatre, was once the Brookhurst’s loge luxury movie going option. These days, the Brookhurst is little more than another fading cinema memory.
Nrookhurst Theatre 2007

Tags: 5 Comments

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 New Life For The Brookhurst Jun 29, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    […] 29th, 2009 by ccrouch Against all odds, it appears the Brookhurst Theatre has risen from the ashes once again. Work is currently underway to reopen the theatre on July 8th, […]

  • 2 Ed Jan 22, 2012 at 4:42 am

    My wife and myself had our first date at this theatre on July 15, 1983. We watched a Burt Reynolds movie called “Stroker Ace”. The movie was forgettable, but the theatre still holds a special place in our hearts whenever we drive by.

  • 3 sam brown Mar 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I went every weekend when I was a kid the theater was beautiful I saw West Side Story in 70mm and stereo sound way ahead of the times in the 60s . The screen was a curved very large. There were beautiful gold curtains when it was exciting watching them open for the movies. I don’t know why they don’t have curtains in the new theaters it seems to lose any excitement when there are non,

  • 4 Brookhurst Theatre Demolished! Mar 8, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Well, they finally demolished the Brookhurst theatre in Anaheim. My father would take us as kids to the Drive in and was fascinated with the projection booth and was more interested in it than the movie sometimes. As I grew up, I think I was 10 or 11 at the time and my best friend Ralph Jorgenson invited me to the show. It was the first theatre I walked into and was full of excitement from the auditorium full of kids, the smell of popcorn,the big gold curtains with the Tijuana Brass playing as you walked in, and the big screen! It became a regular weekend thing with my friends and brother Richard Moyneur who at one time jumped onto the stage and acting stupid lol. I would always check out the projection booth while I walked up that steep ramp to the Snack Bar. I even made my way into the projection booth a couple of times and was very intrigued how it worked and wanted to do it. The rest is history, I’m doing one of the things I love.

  • 5 The Venerable Brookhurst Is No More Mar 9, 2014 at 11:51 am

    […] the numerous struggles the site had experienced in recent decades, this news was seemingly long overdue. Yet, there remains a sense of shock and sadness in seeing […]