The Shattuck Cinema is in Danger

Landmark’s 10-screen Shattuck Cinema is an oasis for Berkeley and Oakland film lovers. Probably the largest multiplex in the East Bay devoted primarily to foreign and independent cinema, it usually offers several films worth seeing.  As I write this, It’s showing Two Days, One Night, Birdman, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Wild, and that’s just the films that I’ve seen and given an A or A-.

And although it appears to be profitable, the Shattuck is in danger. The building that contains it is owned by Hill Street Realty LLC, which wants to tear down the building and build an 18-story residential tower in its place. This would require demolishing the multiplex. What’s more, I suspect that "the Residences at Berkeley Plaza" won’t provide affordable homes.

The Shattuck won’t be the only victim. The Habitot Children’s Museum, also in that building, would have to find another home.

Landmark has invested considerably in the Shattuck over the years. The company remodeled the Shattuck in 2008/09, with an improved concession stand and more comfortable seats. They went fully digital a couple of years ago, but kept one 35mm projector just in case.

Which isn’t to day that everything has always been perfect there. My first digital, and first 3D experience at the Shattuck was a considerable disappointment. But generally, the Shattuck has been a great place to see new non-Hollywood films in the East Bay.

According to a San Francisco Business Times article, "The developer plans a new six-screen cinema that would replace the current theater." But six screens isn’t ten, and Hill Street hasn’t promised the theater to Landmark. Besides, "plans" isn’t the same as "signed a contract."

If this bothers you, send an angry email to the city government at zab@ci.berkeley.ca.us, and drop by https://www.facebook.com/saveshattuckcinemas.

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3 thoughts on “The Shattuck Cinema is in Danger

  1. The East Bay is way under screened. Now with the Shattuck soon to be torn down and replaced with a little 6 screen shoe box type of cinema some new to the area theatre chain needs to put in a brand new modern 12 plex in Berkeley CA. The other two cinemas Landmark runs in the Berkeley and Albany area are in very bad shape. They don’t spend any money on them, curtains broke, old seats upstairs, tired lighting, small screen cut up balcony sections, outdated sound systems ect. I liked the Shattuck even thou It was the owner of the Grand Lake that put in all the nice touches I believe when It first opened. Landmark would not have a clue to do what the Grand Lake people put in when the Shattuck first opened. Time for the Sundance people to move into the movie theatre business in the East Bay and show Regal’s old UA in downtown Berkeley and the Landmarks California/Albany Theatres what showmanship and presentation are.

  2. Remember when the great little Fine Arts on Shattuck was demolished in order for a multi-story apartment (or was it condo?) complex to be built in it’s place? The developer promised a similar ground floor cinema would be a part of the new development but that never happened. I can see the same thing happening here with some lame excuse like “we tried but we couldn’t find a tenant who would agree to our terms”. Read that as really meaning “we made more money leasing the space to McDonald’s or Starbucks or CVS Drugs!”

    Another blow to East Bay fans of independent and foreign film, even if we do appear to be a dwindling minority. Another blow also to movie going opportunities in downtown Berkeley in general. I still miss the UC (especially the UC!), Act i & II, the Fine Arts & the Berkeley. For those of live on the fringes the remaining California & the shabby United Artists are barely worth getting on BART or driving into Berkeley for. We can find the same thing playing at our local multiplex, and with more comfortable seats too!

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