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


 Compiled by Michael Coate and William Kallay



Orange County 70mm-Equipped Theatres & Photo Gallery


The list below includes the names of the commercial motion picture theatres equipped for 70-millimeter film presentation in the Orange County area. 
Note that the list of theatres is not a listing of venues currently in operation that have 70mm presentation capability.  Instead, this is a historical list which documents those theatres known or believed to have been 70mm-equipped at one time or another between 1961 (the introduction of 70mm projection in Orange County) and the present.  (The list accounts for 5-perf 70mm; 8- and 15-perf special venue theatres have not been included.)


We've attempted, through various publications we've listed, or through first-hand experience, to provide seating capacity for many of the theatres listed here.  Some theatres listed the seating capacity either in the lobby, just outside of a particular auditorium, or inside of a particular auditorium.  Other theatres didn't list the seating capacity, therefore, we've estimated to the best of our memory how seats were present. 
Many of the theatres listed are closed or have been demolished.  A few theatres listed are still standing as structures, but have been converted into other uses.  Some, however, are currently in operation and may still have 70mm projection capability.  The theatres have been identified sans owner/chain/circuit and years of operation, and are arranged alphabetically based on city, community or recognized place.  To find out which companies operated the theatres or which films were exhibited in them, please see our year-by-year engagement lists.


We've also included photo galleries when photos and advertisements have been available.  We will expand many of the theatre photo galleries over time.  Some galleries may seem "thin" in comparison to others, and for good reason.  Many theatres simply didn't have photos available, or very few (if any) were taken during their existence.  However, in our pursuit to catalog every 70mm-equipped theatre in Southern California, we have been able to take pictures of several existing structures.  We've also enlisted help from some very enthusiastic historians who've been kind enough to supply historical photos.  Check back, because many of the links featured here will "go live" soon.



This is also a descriptive list of Orange County’s 70mm-equipped movie theatres. Although some of these theatres are still open, the influx of new megaplex theatres and the advent of digital sound essentially spelled the end for 70mm exhibition and many large auditorium theatre complexes like the Orange Cinedome.

Orange County has been home to a few movie palaces, most notably the Fox Fullerton and its sister theatre, the Fox Anaheim. Other classic theatres included the Fox West Coast and the Yost in Santa Ana, the Miramar in San Clemente and the Port in Corona del Mar. All of those theatres have been closed. The Fox Fullerton will hopefully be restored, due to a gallant effort by local preservationists to save the theatre from demolition. The Fox Anaheim was demolished when the City of Anaheim decided to level the entire downtown area in the early 1980s. Neither a downtown theatre nor a vibrant downtown ever replaced what was lost. The West Coast and the Yost still exist, but are used for other purposes. The Miramar and Port exist, but are closed. But here, we’re going to describe each 70mm-equipped theatre. In these author’s minds, some of these were classic movie palaces for our generation.

For this project, we’re hopefully bringing a fresh perspective to exhibition in Orange County. Since we both lived in the area and experienced many, if not all of these theatres, some were very special to us. The Cinedome and Newport Cinema were almost always the places to see films shown in 70mm, while other destinations were good for presentation and the availability of 70mm prints, like Edwards Town Center. Others, while plain, gave us great memories of seeing 70mm prints on the big screen. Many of these cinemas, for the most part, were the modern day equivalent of the luxury palaces of the 1920s and 1930s. In comparison, these newer theatres weren’t ornate or spellbinding to walk into, but they were usually the nicest theatres in the area with the best presentation and showmanship. With Orange County’s relatively high income bracket, theatres like these served moviegoers for many years to capacity showings for blockbusters like “Star Wars” and the Indiana Jones series.

The greatest examples of showmanship came from the Orange Cinedome (1969-1999) and Edwards Newport Cinema. The Cinedome was unique to Orange County with its large domed theatres and stadium seating.  As for the Newport Cinema, lovingly referred to as “Big” Newport, opened the same year as the Cinedome, but with a different design. Instead of a dome structure, this huge 1000+ seat theatre was built in a rectangular shape and boasted having the largest screen west of the Mississippi. These two venues, perhaps over most theatres in the county, were showplaces of theatrical architecture and motion picture showmanship. Movies were events to be seen there.

This list of movie theatres is a time machine into Orange County’s exhibition past, from what could be considered a Golden Era in cinematic presentation: “Presented In 70mm.” Some of the descriptions are a little shorter than others. Some theatres, whether they were spectacular or plain in appearance, held special memories for us. Additionally, some of the theatres here with short descriptions weren’t attended by these authors during certain 70mm engagements. Therefore, our experiences with them came from a visit during a 35mm presentation. With the advent of the multiplex, it was also fun to sneak into certain auditoriums to see the size of the theatre, or to check on another 70mm print in the complex.

You may also notice a lot has been written about the Orange Cinedome in this article. While it may have not been perfect, it was a theatre that held many special memories for a lot of Orange County residents. But more importantly, in our opinion, the closing and eventual destruction of this theatre truly meant the end of great theatre presentation in Orange County. Like most other suburban markets, the County has been flooded with large megaplex theatre complexes. While this has eventually turned into a promising business model for exhibition companies, it has created a terrible way to see movies today. Even though many chains advertise “state-of-the-art” projection and sound, it is actually inferior to what 70mm (from 65mm negative or 70mm blow-up) had to offer. In order to get pristine picture and sound presentation today, one must go to Hollywood or Westwood. At least with places like the Cinedome and Big Newport running 70mm prints during their heyday, the playing field was more balanced.

The exhibition industry essentially cannibalized itself, almost purposely ate its own to expand. There wasn’t a cry for stadium seating and digital sound from the public back in the early ’90s when the craze of building hulking megaplexes began. This has happened with a vengeance in Orange County, and a good number of 70mm-equipped houses are now gone. It is rather surprising, though a relief, that the Newport Cinema is still open. But the Cinedome’s destruction was shocking. It was very popular and a staple in the community, and large enough to cater to huge crowds when necessary. It’s rather ironic that some new theatres being built today can have anywhere from 12-18 screens. When the Cinedome closed, it had 11 and most of the auditoriums had large capacity seating, unlike many megaplexes today.

With that said, Orange County still thrives as one of the most popular moviegoing areas in the United States. And there are still some “classics” open or remaining, even if they’re used for different purposes. Orange County, a place of high-to-middle class living, theme parks, golf courses, mega malls and now a teenage soap opera called “The O.C.” is also a great movie paradise. We enjoyed going to many of these theatres. We hope you enjoy it, too, even if it’s in virtual form.


[C] Closed   

[D] Demolished


Brookhurst [C]
Century 21 [D]
Cinemaland [D]

Cinemapolis / Galaxy / Cinema City
Festival / Festival 8 / Anaheim Hills 14
Marketplace [C]

Movies / Movies 8 / Buena Park Mall [C]
Studio [C]

Cinema [C]
Mesa / The Mesa [D]
South Coast Plaza [D]
Town Center [D]

El Toro [C]

Fountain Valley Drive-In [D]

Fullerton Town Center 8 / Fullerton 10 / Fullerton 20
Titan [C]

Charter Centre

Huntington [C]

Pierside Pavilion [C]


University / University Town Center

Laguna Hills Mall

Rancho Niguel 8

Crown Valley [C]

Fashion Island / Fashion Island 7 / Island
Newport / Big Newport / Newport 6

Cinedome 20 and 21 / Cinedome / Orange Cinedome [D]
The City / City Center / Century [D]

Hutton Centre / Hutton Centre 8 [D]
MainPlace / MainPlace 6
United Artists [D]

Village Center [C]

Cinema West [D]
Twin / Westminster Mall [D]



Search 70mm Engagements By Year

1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970
1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997      


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