Alameda Theatre & Cineplex
Welcome back to the movies! The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is open again!
Upgrades have been made for your safety. All seats are now reserved and should be purchased online. Seat buffering is in place... every other row is blocked off to allocate for at least 6-feet of social distancing. Additionally, seat assignments will be spaced out with two empty seats per group on each side.
Not ready to return to the movies? Support the future of the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex by purchasing gift certificates for later use by you and friends.
Visit the official theatre website for showtimes: www.alamedatheatres.com
Dinner & Movie
Make a night of it, or an afternoon. In addition to Cinema Grill, Downtown Alameda is chock-full of eateries that fit any budget. Grab a quick bite before your scheduled movie (but save room for popcorn), or spend a more leisurely time discussing with your movie-mates what you just watched on the big screen. Restaurant Directory
When 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.
The 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.
On 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.
With 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.
The 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.
This history was taken from a story that originally appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of Alameda Magazine. Many Alamedans still remember the Alameda Theater’s beginning and its early years... read more.