Historic Theatre in Downtown Alameda

Theatre Supports Recycling Program

Popcorn is compostable and so are movie popcorn bags and soda cups. The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex has implemented a new recycling program in partnership with StopWaste.Org, for disposal of movie snacks. Organic waste receptacles are now servicing all eight movie theatres and will divide items for compost, trash, or recycling. 

Movie-goers can help the Theatre in their effort to make Alameda a “greener” place by disposing of their snack trash in the separate bins as they exit the theatre. “We feel a responsibility to set a good example in our community and we feel it’s the conscientious thing to do,” states Kyle Conner, Theatre Owner. 

Alameda County Industries (ACI) worked with the theatre in organizing the program and has supplied a special organic dumpster which they collect weekly and take to a composting facility. The theatre is now recycling and/or composting 70-80% of theatre trash.

(from September 28, 2011 press release)

Historic Leap into 3-D Technology

In 1932, the Historic Alameda Theatre was touted as the largest movie screen in the San Francisco Bay Area... but today it can claim the title of “largest 3-D screen in California!” 

Movie-goers can now witness history in the making at the 1932 Historic Alameda Theatre as they are presented with 3-D imagery never before seen on a movie screen of its size. The debut of Dolby Digital 3D in the historic theatre now offers the largest digital 3D presentation of its kind. 

The installation of a Barco DP 32B-3D projector in the theatre’s original projection booth allows the images to achieve an accurate brightness with up to 43,000 lumens and has been named by Guinness Book of Records as “The World’s Brightest Projector.” 

“The theatre’s Art Deco architecture invites you in and the hi-tech cinema experience will leave you breathless” states Kyle Conner, owner of AlamedaTheatre & Cineplex.

(from June 23, 2011 press release)

History of the Alameda Theatre

Alameda TheatreWhen it first opened in 1932, the Alameda Theatre was a glamorous Art Deco movie palace with one of the largest screens in the entire Bay Area. Designed by architect Timothy Pflueger, the mastermind behind the Paramount Theater in Oakland and the Castro Theater in San Francisco, the Alameda Theatre is designated an Alameda Historic Monument.

Although Alameda’s 35,000 residents had plenty of theaters in those days—the Strand, the Rio, the Vogue, the Park, and the Neptune—they didn’t have a true movie palace until the Alameda Theatre was created. Built in 14 months at a cost of $500,000, the Alameda Theatre instantly became the dominant building in the Park Street Business District with its 33,400 square feet; 2,200 seats; large movie screen; and vertical blade sign that soared 70 feet into the sky with “Alameda” in big capital letters. Many Alamedans can still remember the Alameda Theatre’s early years.

Alameda Theatre interiorThe theater opened with much fanfare on August 16, 1932. Opening night was attended by 5,000 Alamedans. The featured movie was family film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, starring Marion Nixon and Ralph Bellamy. The bill also included The Chimp, with Laurel and Hardy; a Betty Boop cartoon; and a Fox Movietone Newsreel. For the 2,200 people lucky enough to get inside, admission was 10 cents for children and 35 cents for adults. The balcony cost 40 cents and was for adults only.

The movies, and the movie theaters they played in, were changed forever in the early 1950s with the advent of television. Theater attendance dropped dramatically and movie operators struggled to survive. In 1973, the theater was purchased by the Robert L. Lippert theater chain and underwent $85,000 in alterations, including the conversion of the balcony to two additional theaters. But suburban multiplex cinemas caused a continual decline in attendance.

Alameda Theatre mural, Alameda CAOn July 31, 1979, after 47 years, the time had come for the curtain to fall on the Alameda Theatre. The old palace’s final movie was the Disney film The Apple Dumpling Gang, starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway.

Following the theater’s closure, the building endured several reincarnations—a roller rink, a dance hall, and a gymnastics center. It almost became a kids’ pizza parlor, and it narrowly avoided demolition.

Alameda Theatre seatingWith a renewed focus on Alameda's economic development in 1998, an intense interest in having the theater returned to its original splendor and purpose grew within the community. In 2000, after years of neglect, the City of Alameda became formally involved in the theater’s restoration. As a result, a three-part $37.3 million restoration project has restored the theater to its original glory while also modernizing it. The project included restoration of the historic theater, construction of the new parking garage, and construction of the additional Cineplex.

Alameda Theatre doorsThe theater reopened in March 2008 with a three-day grand opening celebration—including a black-tie gala benefit modeled after a movie premiere, complete with searchlights, valet parking, red carpet and movie trailers. The opening movie was a premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The new Alameda Theatre & Cineplex seats a total of 2,168 people. It has seven screens, six of which were added adjacent to the 484-seat main viewing room, and a parking garage with 350 spaces. Various details of the original theater have been kept and restored, like the blade sign up front and the marquee ceiling, while other details like the original seating have been replaced completely.

The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is located at 2317 Central Ave in Alameda's historic downtown commercial district.

(This history was taken from a story that originally appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of Alameda Magazine.)

Current show times are available at www.AlamedaTheatres.com. Sign up online to receive the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex Newsletter with movie listings and show times.
Downtown Alameda 2017
Downtown Alameda Business Associaton
2447 Santa Clara Ave., #302
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 523-1392
office @ downtownalameda.com
Classic Film Series

Fall Classic Movie Series 2017at Alameda Theatre & Cineplex
Step back in time for a vintage movie experience that includes a restored 1932 art deco theatre, recliner seats, and huge movie screen. The historic Alameda Theatre presents a lineup of outstanding classic films -- among them are some of the best movies to grace the silver screen.

The stars will shine on the historic silver screen on Wednesdays. Show times vary from week to week, and movie-goers can catch either a matinee or evening show. Tickets are available at the Alameda Theatre's Box Office in advance and on the day of the show.
Save on single tickets by purchasing the Classic Movie Ticket Pack -- choose any 8 classic movies for $40. Share with a friend, come as a group, or give as a gift. The Ticket Pack NEVER EXPIRES and is valid for any classic film in this series or future classic series. (General admission tickets for adults are $8.50-$11.25)
Bring your Classic Movie ticket stub next door to the Alameda Cinema Grill before or after the movie and get 15% OFF your entrée.  And don’t forget the popcorn!  A special Classic Snack Pack is offered at a vintage price of only $4.50.  This deal includes popcorn, drink, and candy.
View current movie listings and show times: www.alamedatheatres.com

2017 Fall Classic Movie Schedule

Sept 13 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton) 1966      
Sept 20 The Wild Bunch (William Holden, Ernest Borgnine) 1969      
Sept 27 Bringing Up Baby (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant) 1938      
Oct 4 On the Waterfront (Marlon Brando, Karl Malden) 1954      
Oct 11 The Shining (Jack Nicholson, Janet Leigh) 1980      
Oct 18 Halloween Part 1 (Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis) 1978      
Oct 25 Halloween Part 2 (Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis) 1981      
Nov 1 The Philadelphia Story (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant) 1940      
Nov 8 The Magnificent Ambersons ( Tim Holt, Joseph Cotton) 1942      
Nov 15 Touch of Evil (Charlton Heston, Orson Welles) 1958      
Dec 6 A Christmas Story (Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon) 1983      
Dec 13 Miracle on 34th Street (Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara) 1947