Century Park 12 in Redwood City. It is now abandoned. (Source: Cinema Treasures)
When I was a youngster growing-up in Northern California, my family and/or I would patronize any one of the Century Theaters multiplexes along the San Francisco Peninsula. Aka Syufy Theaters and now owned by Cinemark Theaters, Century Theaters did not have the best theaters in the area. Most of them were domed, free-standing, “futuristic” auditoriums that were originally designed in the 60s to show large format presentations (i.e. 70mm.) Or, they were Cinerama theater rip-offs that were dated by the 1980s, cavernous and did not function optimally due to their specific form. Now, Century Theaters are located in typical, escalated complexes that feature stadium seating, 3D and what-have-you. In fact, I worked as a projectionist at one of these newer locations, right before the place converted to digital presentations.
Still, I have many moviegoing experiences associated with the Century Theaters of the past. For instance: before every feature presentation began, their theater policy trailer would roll. Watch it below:
And somewhere it time, it became customary for audiences to clap along with the second half of the policy trailer’s song, a triumphant announcement that said you were about to WATCH A MOVIE, CONSARNIT.
BUM, BUM, BUM, BUM BUM BUM, BUM BUM BUM. BUM, BUM, BUM, BUM BUM BUM, BUM BUM BUM.
It was always a fun bit of unprompted audience participation that made moviegoing feel like something that overlapped the feeling of kindergarten with the feeling of being in a fun-loving cult.*
*Funnily enough, a friend who grew-up in Ventura County said that she encountered the Century Theaters clap-along ritual when visiting relatives in Northern California as a kid and it freaked her out.
BONUS: a picture of the Century 21’s roadside marquee during the San Jose theater’s heyday:
(Source: Mindhive on Flickr)
Wow, this post is giving me All The Feels. Not just because the 21/22/23 closed permanently last night, but because the Century Park 12 was the OTHER theatre I worked at in the chain. It was the flagship location when I worked there, and this version of the policy trailer was based on it. (That’s Theatre 11 the ticket flies into at the end…)