Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Century 21

"The San Jose Century 21 was built in 1964, with the intention of using the 3-strip Cinerama process; but it actually only showed 70mm.
The screen was later replaced with a flat model, but has remained intact as a wonderful throwback to the domed Cinerama palaces of the 1960’s."
                                                                         -- Ross Melnick of

It is with fond memories and sadness I write this blog. I do not usually get to personal while blogging but my memories of a childhood relic of mine has over powered me. Sure to some a theater is just a place you go every once in a while, but sometimes when you go to a theater so much it becomes part of you and your history. Today I am writing to tell you about such a theater. This one is located in San Jose, California and yesterday might be the last time I step place inside of it.
The Century 21 has long been my favorite theater. I can recall all the times I went to see a big movie here, because when growing up in the 80's and 90's this was the prime spot to see a movie. I can tell you about waiting in line to see Batman (1989), Jurassic Park, Star Wars Episode I, or more recent The Dark Knight with my future wife...all were amazing experiences at the same place and all took place over many different decades. 
I am the dark figure in front of the theater

Of course the strongest bond to the theater is that of a father and sons. My parents were divorced early on in my childhood and I would see my dad about once a week. He didn't make all that much as a manager of retail store but you would never tell by how he treated me and my brother. Movies is what we did together, and made us both the cinephiles that we are today. The usual story would be to get picked up by my dad, go eat dinner, and see a movie with him and my brother. We liked the 21 because it was the biggest screen and the best sound. I can recall my dad saying how (at the time) it was the biggest screen in all the bay area. I am not sure if people growing up today even know of a theater that just has one screen (besides the folks in L.A.). There is something quite nice knowing everyone in the theater is seeing the same movie, and that you are all there for one reason. No multiplexes here (you can get that across the street at the lush new shopping center) just good old fashioned one screen, and a big one at that. So many good memories of a theater that shaped by movie going experiences since the 80's. 

I can't remember how I found out but someone told me a few month ago that the Century 21 and its brother theaters (the Century 22 and 23) were being torn down to make room for business. I was really saddened by this news. I suppose I though these would be around forever. I have been looking into it and found a petition to save at least one of the Century theaters as a historical landmark. I urge to sign this if you have been to the theaters once or even if you haven't and love old movie places that have character. 
me buying a ticket 

The theaters may be around a while longer but I am moving away from the place I grew up to hopefully bigger and better things, like starting a family. I hope to one day take my child to one of these domes and make some father/child memories of my own. I was lucky to have my friend Jeremy accompany me to the movies and take some pictures so just in case I come back and they are no longer here I can always say I had one last time at the place that meant so much to me. 

We saw the 7:00 showing of The Conjuring

To the right you can see the brother theater the Century 22

Please sign the petiton to save one of the Domes:

Good article about the Domes in the San Jose Mercury News:

Photo credits to my great friend Jeremy Sherr