Alameda Theatre & Cineplex
The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is temporarily closed due to the Shelter In Place Order but you can still support your local theatre:
Rent - Stream - Enjoy! Support your theatre and the arts by bringing the Arthouse Cinema Experience to your home screen. Choose from a handpicked selection of international films that you can rent online. (A portion of the rental price supports your local theatre!)
Theatre Popcorn At Home! Before settling in for a movie night with family, don't forget to order the popcorn and snacks from Alameda Theatre for a fun movie experience at home. Popcorn and snacks are available for curbside takeout. Or maybe you would like dinner and cocktails from Cinema Grill.
Gift Certificates! Support the future of the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex by ordering gift certificates today.
Visit the theatre website for information about the programs listed above: www.alamedatheatres.com
Pop-Up Drive In Movies
Going to movies with families and friends continues to be a favorite activity in Alameda. While indoor theaters are closed, Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is showing outdoor movies on a big screen at Alameda Point.
Movies are being shown in the parking lot of Alameda Point Craft Soda Co., 1951 Monarch St, Hangar #200.
Each featured movie begins after sundown when it gets dark (gates open one hour prior). The entrance fee is $35 per vehicle. There is no assigned parking.
Capacity is limited, so tickets can sell out quickly.
And what's a movie without snacks? Pre-sealed popcorn and pre-packaged soda and candy are available for purchase.
Look for movies and show times to be posted on the theatre website and buy tickets: www.alamedatheatres.com/drivein
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.