Venerable Bay Area movie theater to close for good

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Shattuck Cinemas, a 10-screen movie theater in the heart of downtown Berkeley, is shuttering for good, marking yet another significant loss for the Bay Area film community after the recent closures of the California Theatre and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, as well as the somewhat murky future of the Castro Theatre. 

Known for its glittering marquee, old-world charm and ornate interior adorned with hieroglyphics on the walls, the cinema housed in what used to be Hink’s Department Store opened in May 1988 and has been operated by Landmark Theatres since 1994. Margot Gerber, a spokesperson for the chain, confirmed the closure to SFGATE in an email on Thursday, stating that the “landlord is moving forward with redevelopment of the property” and that it would “close effective June 1st.” 

Some patrons caught wind of the Shattuck’s demise earlier that week. Belinda Perez, who lives in Oakland, said she was having a drink at Lot 68 Lounge before a screening of “On the Count of Three” on Tuesday night when she overheard the bartender discussing the closure with another customer. Later, she confirmed the news with an employee at the concession stand, who said the theater’s last day in operation was May 24. Landmark’s website currently does not show any screenings after that date. 

“I was definitely surprised and also disappointed,” said Perez, who has been going to see movies at the Shattuck about two or three times a month since she moved to the Bay Area in 2005. “I was really happy when they reopened last year after the pandemic closed it down, and it seems like they do really good business. Now I’m wondering what will happen… There are lots of theaters in the Bay Area, but not all of them show movies like the Shattuck does.” 

A project proposed for the building at 2065 Kittredge St. would demolish the theater to make way for an eight-story, 188-unit student housing development with 3,625 square feet of retail space, as well as two public courtyards on Kittredge Street and Allston Way, according to a plan submitted to the city of Berkeley last month. The project is still pending approval. 

This leaves Berkeley with just one movie theater downtown – the Regal UA on Shattuck – and though the Elmwood is nearby on College Avenue, it has just three screens. Meanwhile, Landmark will continue to operate four theaters in the Bay Area – the Opera Plaza Cinema in downtown San Francisco, the Albany Twin, the Piedmont in Oakland and the Aquarius Theatre in Palo Alto. 

Perez lamented the loss of a space like the Shattuck, where she saw many of the same employees working there for years, not to mention a treasured space that bolstered independent and art house cinema. 

“It seems like a real community is being lost,” she said.

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