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A Shrine To The Other Hollywood

March 14th, 2013 by ccrouch
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The celebrity prints immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese have been a Hollywood landmark and “must see” tourist stop for nearly a century. However, unbeknownst to most, the Chinese isn’t the only theatre in Hollywood where notables have left their mark in concrete. A little over a mile away, there stands another collection of forecourt prints, which receive far less attention and definitely aren’t featured on any Starline tour schedule.

Studs Theatre

Down on Santa Monica Boulevard, between Genesee and Spaulding Avenues, sits a rather non descript structure with a history a bit more “colorful” than that of its’ cross town counterpart. Opened in 1940, as the Monica, this theatre had a somewhat traditional early run, as a mainstream neighborhood cinema and art house. Then, in February of 1970, the Monica’s legacy was forever changed, as the venue became Vincent Miranda’s flagship location for his Pussycat Theatres chain.

Monica Print Ceremony

Rebranded the West Hollywood Pussycat (aka Monica Cat), the theatre arguably turned in to the most infamous cinema in Los Angeles. During the heyday of “porno chic”, this was where celebrities went to see “dirty movies”, where “Deep Throat” screened for nearly a decade, where city hall chose to target their highly publicized war on porn, and where the adult film industry held their own world premieres, complete with hand print ceremonies.

Handprints

The days of adult premiers, national publicity, and sellout crowds have long since vanished for the Monica. Renamed the Tomkat, then Studs, the theatre now caters to a gay audience and maintains a much lower profile. However, the concrete markers of an era passed remain. Much like Grauman’s, one can still place their palms in those of the stars; only, at this place, it’s John Holmes and Linda Lovelace, rather than Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.

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Grauman’s Doorman Lock Martin

February 19th, 2013 by ccrouch
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Today’s unique picture captures Grauman’s Chinese Theatre doorman (circa 1949), Joseph Lockard Martin Jr.

Lock Martin

Better known by his stage name, Lock Martin, the 7’1” – 7’7” (accounts vary on his height) actor worked in various public relations/promotional roles and appeared in a handful of movies, before being hired as Grauman’s doorman in the late 1940’s; his highly visible presence at the Chinese Theatre eventually brought Mr. Martin his signature role, as Gort, in the film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Capitalizing on his notoriety, Lock Martin had a run with Spike Jones and his City Slickers, before moving on to host a children’s television show in the 1950’s, as “The Gentle Giant”.

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The Next Big Thing?

November 17th, 2012 by ccrouch
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In roughly a month (12/14), movie going will experience what could prove to be the “next big thing”, as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is shown in high frame rate, at select theatres. For those unfamiliar with high frame rate; this advancement involves a movie being shot and playing at forty-eight frames per second, as opposed to the traditional twenty-four, the end result being a higher definition picture. While that may not sound like a game changer, the visual difference between 24fps and 48fps is quite dramatic. I had the opportunity to see some clips of “The Hobbit” in 48fps this past year and the picture quality was startling (almost too real).

Being a cutting edge technology, only 400 to 450 screens will be showing “The Hobbit” in 48fps domestically. Fortunately, Orange County will be well represented in this limited roll out, with six locations already on board (likely more to be announced soon):

Edwards Aliso Viejo Stadium 20

Edwards Brea Stadium East 12

Regal Foothill Towne Center Stadium 22

Century Huntington Beach Bella Terra 20

Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21

Century Orange Stadium 25

Whether this technology is the future of movies or not remains a matter of great debate, but high frame rate is definitely worth checking out. A new era for movies or just another dead end gimmick? Find out for yourself on 12/14.

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Tustin Marketplace 6 Closes

November 1st, 2012 by ccrouch
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Earlier this month, the inevitable came to pass, as the Edwards Tustin Marketplace 6 closed after twenty-two years of service. Opened in the Summer of 1990, the Tustin 6 was once part of a highly popular entertainment hub, featuring Tower Records and Bookstar. However, the theatre’s glory days proved short lived, with the construction of the Edwards Marketplace Stadium 10 (across the street) in 1999 and the closure of both Tower and Bookstar.

Serving as a slightly discounted mid run house during its’ last decade, there was a glimmer of hope for the venue a year ago, when digital projection was added; but, the upgrade ultimately proved fruitless, as the theatre continued to experience dismal attendance. Closing down on 10/7/12, the second floor unit now sits empty.

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OC Film Fiesta Kicks Off

September 3rd, 2012 by ccrouch
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This weekend kicked off the third annual OC Film Fiesta in historic downtown Santa Ana; a celebration of music, food, and film, which will continue through the next two weekends. Of particular note, the Yost will be hosting the documentary “Brilliant Soil” on 9/16; offering up the rare opportunity to view a movie in Orange County’s oldest standing theatre (the recently remodeled Yost is almost exclusively a live venue these days).  For more information, visit OC Film Fiesta.

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Twin Em!

August 16th, 2012 by ccrouch
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Today’s picture, from a 1978 edition of Box Office Magazine, captures that dark time when exhibitors felt compelled to “economically” plex their single screen holdings. One hates to even contemplate how many formerly grand auditoriums were hacked up with “TWINNING, TRIPLEXING, or QUADING” after this advertisement ran.

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Theatre Marketing Past

August 2nd, 2012 by ccrouch
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Time was, today marked the start of “National Relaxation Week” and the opportunity for theatres to advertise their relaxing amenities.

Holding true to the fast paced lifestyles and short attention spans of today, “National Relaxation Week” has been whittled down to “National Relaxation Day” (recognized on August 15).

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The Fountain Valley Drive In at 45

July 31st, 2012 by ccrouch
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This month marked the forty-fifth anniversary of the long gone Fountain Valley Drive In.

    

While grand opening boasts of “world’s largest” and “most spectacular” were typically exaggerated exhibitor hype (check out the Westminister 4 for a humorous example), Fountain Valley truly lived up to the marketing spin.

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Westminster 10 Changes Hands

June 21st, 2012 by ccrouch
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Regency Theatres has taken over operation of the former Edwards Westminster 10 and will mark the transition with a grand reopening celebration this weekend, 6/22 – 6/24.

The twenty year old theatre, located on the former site of Edwards Cinema West (66’-91’), had been in decline for quite some time and, while not facing any direct competition in the area, wasn’t deemed cost effective for upgrades or remodel efforts, by former operator REG. Now, with Regency taking over, the theatre has received a “sprucing up” and full conversion to digital projection.

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Cinema Milestone: The First Drive-In

June 6th, 2012 by ccrouch
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On this day in 1933, Richard Hollingshead (along with Willie Warren Smith, Edward Ellis, and Oliver Willets) opened the world’s first drive-in theater, in Camden, New Jersey.

Built for $30,000, the aptly named “Drive-In Theatre”, featured inclined slots for 400 cars and a “60 foot talkie screen”; unlike later drive-ins, sound was produced via large speakers installed on the screen tower (RCA’s “Direct Sound” system for the Camden location). Priced at twenty five cents per car and twenty five cents per person, not exceeding one dollar per car load, the opening feature was “Wives Beware”.

Due to several legal disputes, Camden’s Dive-In Theatre was closed in 1935, but this first effort ultimately launched a movie going craze that became a cornerstone of mid twentieth century pop culture and iconic slice of Americana.

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