The main corridor was right to the right of the concession stand with
four main door ways to allow entry into the auditorium. Often, patrons
would get confused as to where the entrance to the auditorium was, but
with the help of the employees, they were easily guided in the right
Now, for the best part of the story. The auditorium consisted of seating
940 comfortably, but could seat 986 for big sell out shows. The last ten
rows of seats were reclining seats, where the front ones were not
reclining seats. There was a total of 32 speakers situated through out
the auditorium while the speaker behind the screen were situated
accordingly. The silver screen, itself was a total of 60 feet. There was
a 30-second time delay surround that could be noticed if you sat in the
middle of the theater from front to back.
The theater used the Dolby Digital/DTS Digital Sound processor and amps.
For most pictures, you would see either the Dolby Digital or DTS Digital
Sound trailers or both at the same time before the Mann Theaters Trailer,
but after the film trailers. Now, the company used a huge film projector
with a powerful light bulb source and a triple platter film reel system.
The film projector is capable of reading the Dolby Digital and DTS
Digital Sound audio tracks.
For some historical information, the theater opened in July of 1963. It
is bigger than its counterpart, the Valley Circle (which has been torn
down). It was followed by the Center Theater in 1965, Valley Circle in
December of 1966, AMC Fashion Valley 4 in June of 1970 (which is now not
in existance since the inception of the mall redsign and the all new AMC
Fashion Valley 18), and the Mann Hazard Center 7 in July of 1990 with
each auditorium certified by Lucas Film LTD. THX. Also, what has followed
before the Fashion Valley 18 was the Mission Valley 20 which is owned by
AMC. So, heavy competition has prevailed over the single screen theaters
within the same vicinity which lead to the demise of the Valley Circle
permanently and the Cinema 21 (with its demise still in the air). The
only theater that was a bit larger was the Grossmont Center Theater that
held a total of 1,000 seats comfortably.
A few of the big blockbuster hits at the Cinema 21 were: Ransom, Titanic
(the biggest blockbuster of all time), the re-release of the Star Wars
Trilogy and many others that has played there. Of course, there was the
occasional flooding of the first few rows of the theater due to the rain
and building of the parking lot and theater, but that did not fully close
Even though the theater did use the latest in current technologies, the
advances were not as good when the theater first opened in 1963. So, the
theater has seen a lot of upgrades in its time period. Now, with its
fate in the hands of the owner of the building, there is only hope that
an independant outfit will buy the building, otherwise, it will be torn
down. There is no possibily of building a multiplex in its spot due to
space limitations, stiff competition at nearby malls, and the changing
trends in todays current standards for multiplex and mega-multiplex
theaters. If the building is torn down, the only big screens left will
be: The Vouge in Chula Vista which shows second run films and the Star
Theater in Oceanside which seats 900 in stadium style seating with a 50
foot screen. All of the other big screens have either been torn down or
converted into stores.
I hope and pray that the wonderful Cinema 21 will not be torn down. I just wished that I had the
money to take out a lease agreement with the owners and continue to use
January 1999 - Update: Four months following the closure of this once grand theater, a new business has taken over and has converted the inside of the Cinema 21 (at least the lobby portion) into a retail establishement called "The Sports Palace Warehouse". The building has not been torn down though. The company is using the "Mann Theaters" neon lighted sign that is still in its original place which was behind the concession stand.
The Loma Theater
The Loma Theater (3150 Rosecrans), before it was converted to a book and music store, was
one of San Diego's finest movie houses to ever have been built. The
theater lured a high class crowd to its screen.
To begin with, this theater was designed in the late 1930s, but the
construction was delayed because of WWII. The opening date was May 5,
1945 and the admission to the opening Gala was the purchase of $100 or
more in the US War Bonds. Fortunately, the theater flourished for decades
and had many long running blockbuster films.
Since the rise of multi and mega-plex theaters, this theater could not
survive nor compete with them. So, in the year 1987, the theater closed
after its last show of "Fatal Attraction". The longest running film at
this theater was "How The West Was Won" which ran for a total of 1 year
and 8 days. Other films being shown were: The Sound of Music, Disney's
Fantasia and Roger and Hammersteins musicals that opened there.
Now, in relation to seating, from what I remember, this theater must have
had the seating capacity of at least 900 or more. The screen size must
have been at least 70 feet in length (18 meters).
Since the theaters demise, the building was converted to a bookstore now
known as "Book Star" and a "Blockbuster Video" is right next door to it.
There was no expense spared for the restoration of the building. The
cost: $1,000,000 in US Currency.
The AMC Mission Valley 20
The AMC Mission Valley 20 (1640 N Camino Del Rio) opened around 1995 which boasts a grand total of 20
auditoriums with all stadium seating and wall to wall screens. The bigger
of the auditoriums feature SDDS Digital Sound while the smaller of the
auditoriums use what is called "The Hit System" and "Dolby Stereo". The
Theater uses modern architecture and design. The theater does not use
Dolby Digital, THX or DTS Digital, just SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound)
which I think is really nice and powerful providing everything that is
needed to make a movie come alive.
The seats are really comfortable. They have arm rests that lift up for a
cozy up. To get the full effects of the soundsystem, a person would be
better off sitting in the center aisle of the auditorium. All auditoriums
are handicapped equipped. The theater also offers other services such as:
accepting credit cards at the box office and over the phone for advanced
ticket purchases as well as cash and travelers checks, hearing aid
assistance for the hearing impaired and other services at the Guest
The theater has two concession stands locations. When you walk into the
lobby, you will see the main concession stand. When you head down the
corridor for theaters 1 - 13, you will notice an alternate concession
stand which will be opened during peak business hours (such as the
weekends and a big blockbuster hit, etc.). Theaters 14 - 20 are to the
right of the main lobby.
AMC has other locations such as: AMC Weigand Plaza 8 (formerly known as
AMC Weigand Plaza 6), AMC La Jolla 12, AMC Santee Village 8, AMC Fashion
Valley 18. Most of their other locations will feature the SDDS Sound in a
few auditoriums, but only the two new ones utilize the All Stadium