Berkeley parks

Berkeley may only have one theater after development

The seven-screen Regal UA Berkeley at 2274 Shattuck Ave. could face a similar fate. An application submitted Last week by developer Panoramic Interests has proposed plans for a “partial removal of the existing commercial structure” that would allow the construction of a 17-storey mixed-use apartment building in its place, with 239 residential units, 24 of which would be considered such as affordable housing, as well as a lobby and possibly a cafe on the ground floor.

The property was purchased for $7 million by the downtown San Francisco-based firm, and while the theater’s ornate facade is preserved, it’s unclear to what extent its art deco interior will remain intact, such as the first Mercury News reported. SFGATE has contacted representatives from Regal Cinemas and Panoramic Interests for further information regarding a cinema closure date and site plans, but did not hear back as of press time.

The Regal UA Berkeley (then called United Artists Theatre) opened as a one-screen cinema on September 16, 1932, with a screening of David Butler’s Depression-era comedy “Down to Earth” starring Will Rogers, Irene Rich and Dorothy Jordan. Admission was 45 cents, and a Mickey Mouse cartoon and Metrotone news were also shown. The Berkeley Daily Gazette called the movie debut “the biggest theatrical event in Berkeley history”, according to a 2007 article. article on the 75th anniversary of the theater at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

“Each of the theater’s 1,800 plush seats was filled within five minutes of the doors opening,” the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported. reported The next day. “Twice as many filled the foyers, waiting for an opportunity to secure seats for the second show.”

City officials including Berkeley Mayor Thomas Caldecott and a group of Hollywood actors and actresses were among them. Bing Crosby reportedly rushed after a Fox performance in Oakland to make it happen, and Josephine Dunn, Conchita Montenegro, George Bancroft, Matty Kemp and Lew Cody also attended opening night. This resulted in a “large crowd” of people waiting outside to see the celebrities exit the stage door.

Years later, the theater is the only one of its kind that still has a direct connection to the United Artists Corporation, a chain of theaters and a film studio. based by several actors including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford in 1919, Gary Parks, then Southwest director of the Theater Historical Society of America, told the Berkeley Daily Planet. The company was bought by Regal Cinemas in 2001 after declaring bankruptcy.

Now, the modest three-screen Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on College Avenue may be the only remaining theater in Berkeley, aside from the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive, which only show repertoire screenings.

Two other Regal theaters still operate in the Bay Area at Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco and Jack London Square in Oakland.