Empowering Professionals: Century Theaters on Winchester Blvd. The end of an era in San Jose.

Century Theaters on Winchester Blvd. The end of an era in San Jose.

Century Theaters on Winchester Blvd. The end of an era in San Jose. 


I kept getting that email…  The one saying that these historic domed theaters in San Jose on Winchester were closing.  And the last movie would be Raiders of the Lost Arc…   


Closing?  Wait, that could never happen!  That theater has been around for as long as I have been going to movies  


I stood in lines for over 8 hours to be the first to see ET, or Star Wars.  I would bring my camp chairs and a cooler and wait to be able to brag I saw Batman first or Top Gun.  It seemed that this theater complex was the only one around that got the big named, first run movies when they came out…  Batman, Judge Dredd, Demolition Man, 2010, Mission Impossible.  


So I kept thinking about that email.  The one that said it was closing.  So I did a bit of research.  Apparently the owners of the Winchester Mystery House right next door own the land.  And leased it to the Syufy movie theater complex on a 50 year lease… And that lease was up…  


Seeing that property values have skyrocketed in the last 50 years, it is safe to assume that the theaters were paying pennies for what the land could command at current lease rates.  And those lease rates were advertised, and Santana Row across the street agreed to a new 50 year lease, and closed the deal.  I guess they are thinking expansion?  


So I asked my friends if they wanted to go see Raiders of the Lost Ark with me, and that the theater was closing.  And we all agreed to go.  Good thing, because it sold out, close to 1,000 seats…  


5 TV crews there, people dressed in 1930’s archeology outfits, nostalgia abound and a strange sadness hung in the air.  This movie, was to be the last to show on this screen.   With the mega-movie theaters that dot the landscape, single screen theaters like this just cannot survive…  


As the movie ended, we all stayed through the credits, and took our time leaving.  Snapping pictures to remember something that may be gone forever.  Preservationist are begging the state to make Century 21 a historical landmark and preserve it.        


Chris Alston


Home sales and purchasing specialist

Keller Williams Realty, Cupertino

19400 Stevens Creek Blvd, Suite #200

Cupertino, CA 95014


408-850-6956 fax




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Comment balloon 2 commentsChris Alston • April 07 2014 02:50PM


Chris, You're right, the days of the small theaters are fading fast.  A few survive on the art/indie film specialty category, but outside of that it's touch to compete with the big boys.  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 6 years ago

That sucks yeah I saw Gremlins and Ghostbusters there when I was a kid the theatre are amazing. The inside and out. Sad day for me and San Jose. They should my it a historical land Mark.

Posted by J.J. over 1 year ago