A year-by-year, film-by-film history of 70-millimeter wide gauge exhibition in Southern California

 Compiled by Michael Coate and William Kallay

70mm Equipped Theatre Pictures


Theatre Specifications:

Vinstrand / American Family Theaters/ Globe Theaters / Interstate Theatres / Starplex Cinemas / TriStone Cinema Group

April 5, 1961

Remodeled: Brookhurst auditorium split into four auditoriums; Re-opened in the early 1990s

Closed: January 8, 2006 - Re-opened 2009 - Closed 2011*

Seats: 944 (original configuration)

The second 70mm theatre in Orange County, the Brookhurst Theatre opened on April 5, 1961 with the film, “The World Of Suzie Wong” and featured the showing of a 70mm demonstration reel. The first 70mm theatre in Orange County, according to Box Office and our records, was the La Habra Theatre, which opened in 1956.
Built by the Vinnicof family through their company, Vinstrand Theaters, Inc., the theatre featured 944 seats in a rectangular building facing Ball Road. Arnold Construction Company, which also owned the land on which it sat, had its offices next door to the Brookhurst. Headed by owner Arnold Fuerstein, they built the theatre by itself on a large parcel of land with plenty of parking spaces. It would eventually be joined by a shopping center that was built piecemeal. The theatre was designed by Leon Glucksman of the Martin Stern architectural firm, according the Anaheim Bulletin newspaper.
Before the theatre’s grand opening, ads in the Anaheim Bulletin touted “Stereophonic Sound; 70mm projection; Comfortable Seats; Wide Screen and Café service.” This was the only place in Orange County to see 70mm presentation for a few years.
The theatre itself wasn’t as ornate or immaculate as some other theatres in Southern California. In comparison to many existing movie palaces of the 1920s and 1930s, like the Fox Fullerton and Fox Anaheim, the Brookhurst was rather plain. Its main architectural feature was the A-frame sign in the driveway. Fitting in with much of the Space Age “Googie-style” signage in and around Anaheim at the time, the sign was in good company. Anaheim was known for the “gaudy” Space Age-themed hotels, motels and strip malls that were all around the city for a time.
The Brookhurst held a few 70mm presentations, and was the exclusive venue in Orange County for such presentations until the Edwards, Statewide and Syufy companies opened roadshow-style theatres during the mid-to-late 1960s. The Los Angeles Times listed the Brookhurst in their Independent Theater Guide, and due to the tiny text, the reader needed to look very carefully to see if something was being advertised in 70mm. The (Orange County) Register and Anaheim Bulletin, on the other hand, promoted the Brookhurst with larger and more informative display ads. "Ben-Hur,"
"Oklahoma!" “Cleopatra,” "My Fair Lady," “El Cid” and “Gone With The Wind” were among the theatre's 70mm presentations.
The 400-seat Loge theatre was added in 1970 next door to the Brookhurst. This smaller luxury theatre had very comfortable seating and was built to cater to the “adult” audiences. "X-rated" films did occasionally play at the Loge, while next door at the original Brookhurst, more general audience films played. 
By the early-1990s, the theatre fell into disrepair and was closed for a short time. For some residents, it was known not to be a good place to attend with the “riff-raff” and “gangs” going there. It later re-opened, but had been subdivided into four smaller auditoriums. (The Loge was used for awhile still as a theatre, then converted into a beauty school, which has closed.) The theatre was cleaned up, refurbished, and operated as a second-run discount theatre until January 8, 2006. Even though it seemed to do respectable business, perhaps the discounted admission prices ultimately closed the Brookhurst.

Yet, the Brookhurst would not go away. It was reopened in 2009 and seemed to do reasonably good business. The parking lot was crowded with cars and people lined up at the box office once again. But by 2011, the theatre closed once again.

It still stands as a reminder of 1960s-era luxury theatres.

Anaheim Brookhurst Theatre (c. 1992)
Brookhurst grand opening ad (1961)
Brookhurst ad (1961)
Brookhurst ad for "Oklahoma!" (April 4, 1962) [Enlarge]
Brookhurst ad for "Ben-Hur." (1962)
Brookhurst (2004)
Brookhurst seen from across Ball Road — The theatre actually sits about a block away from Brookhurst Street
Seen at night
Brookhurst "modern" sign
Construction of the Loge
As seen as a beauty school. This was actually the second theatre in Orange County to be changed into a beauty school. The Cinema in Costa Mesa was gutted and changed into the Paul Mitchell School.
Final flyer handed out at the box office prior to the Brookhurst closing on January 8, 2006 [Enlarge]
The fate of the theatre is unknown
The theatre was the oldest operating theatre in Orange County after the Fox Fullerton closed in the 1980s
After 45 years of operation, the Brookhurst was in remarkably good shape until its closure in 2006
The 1960s-era theatre was fairly popular up until its final day of operation
The lobby and snackbar (left) with the four auditoriums straight ahead — The two smaller auditoriums handled approximately 167 patrons each, while the two larger auditoriums (located down the center aisle and middle door seen in the picture) held approximately 268 patrons each — These small auditoriums were carved from the single auditorium that held 944 patrons

[1] William Kallay
[2] The Anaheim Bulletin / Vinstrand
[3] Starplex Cinemas

[1] Photos © William Kallay. All rights reserved.

Special thanks to Arnold Fuerstein, Anaheim Public Library, Cinema Treasures and Cinema Tour

*Even though I lived fairly close to the Brookhurst, I did not tally every official closing/reopening of the theater from 2006-2011. I don't recall if the theatre reopened between 2006-2009. If time permits, I will check newspaper records (if available) to see if the theatre did reopen in those years. (William Kallay)

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