The San Diego Union-Tribune
June 24, 2011 Friday
Local; Pg. B-1
ANOTHER CHANCE TO STAR FOR CORONADO’S VILLAGE THEATRE;
Abruptly shuttered in 2000, 1947 movie house reopens
By Wendy Fry
Crowds spilled onto the sidewalk under the historic Village Theatre sign Thursday evening like sand from an hour glass.
The downtown Coronado movie house closed abruptly in 2000 after falling into disrepair, but it reopened its doors to much fanfare and after years of renovations.
Some guests wistfully recalled the opening night in 1947. Others retold fond memories faded with time.
Caroline Marvin, a 74-year-old Coronado resident, said she had her first date at the theater.
“He actually put his arm around her shoulder,” her friend, Madeline Tallian, chimed in.
“No, no, no, that didn’t happen,” Marvin clarified, blushing.
Screenings of Disney’s “Cars 2” begin today at the Art Deco-style, three-screen cinema. Mayor Casey Tanaka made a speech Thursday evening, presenting the new operator Lance Alspaugh with a key to the city.
“Coronado has been without its own theater for over a decade now,” he said. “Generations of Coronado residents have had memories of this theater, first dates, friendships, big experiences, so it’s been a priority of this council and every council before us to get this theater reopened and back in operation.”
Alspaugh struck a deal with the city to operate the theater until at least 2026 and invest in improvements in exchange for $2.7 million in redevelopment funds for a full-scale renovation.
Guests were impressed with what they saw.
“It far exceeds anything I could have imagined,” Patty Ochenduszko said. “And also it’s absolutely fabulous, the finishing touches, the murals, the little details. … It’s just beautiful.”
Murals in the screening rooms create 3D optical illusions of historic places in both Coronado and Balboa Park.
Crews were finishing design concepts Monday, detailed by notable theater designer Joseph Musil, who is widely recognized for restoring the 1926 El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. Musil died last year before the design plans were complete, but Kevin Fultz, the construction superintendent, said great care was taken to maintain the 8,500-square-foot theater’s historic charm.
Construction Superintendent Kevin Fultz said a few details and lighting were added right up until minutes before the doors officially opened.
City officials are hoping the historic landmark will draw San Diegans across the bridge.
Showtimes for matinees have not yet been solidified. Evening shows are held at 5:45, 7:45 and 9:45 A phone number, acquired by the operators Vintage Cinemas, may not be active for a few days: (619) 437-6161. For more information: vintagecinemas.com.