In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Emery Bay Closes

Per the E'ville Eye, the United Artists Emery Bay Stadium 10 has now closed, marking the 10th Bay Area theater to close since I began this blog in 2010. In that same time, only two theaters have opened (that I know of), the New Parkway in Oakland, and the Century at Pacific Commons in Fremont (both opened in 2012).

It's impressive that the Emery Bay survived twelve years with neighboring AMC Bay Street 16 sniping all the good titles. With this closure, Regal further diminishes its Bay Area presence, dropping to a distant third with 6 theaters and 61 screens (behind Cinemark's 28 theaters and 325 screens, and AMC's 8 theaters and 127 screens).

From The Mummy (1999) to Beautiful Creatures (2013) I visited the Emery Bay a total of 66 times, nearly as many visits as I've made to another fourteen Regal theaters combined. The Emery Bay ranks as my third most visited theater, behind only the Grand Lake Theater (181 visits) and Alameda Theatre (68 visits).

In honor of Emery Bay's passing, I present my...

Top 10 Emery Bay Experiences (in chronological order)

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001)

My first of what would be a record-setting five theater visits to see this movie (three of them at the Emery Bay). A movie so amazing, beautiful, and tragic, I had to keep coming back.

2. 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001)

A terrible, terrible, terrible movie. This violent, boring piece of garbage provides another in a long list of reasons people dislike Kevin Costner (I like him, but not here). Nothing but the fact that I had never walked out on a movie before kept me in my seat (a streak I gladly broke the next year for Nijinsky: The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky).

3. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

The first movie I saw with my girlfriend, Mica, just a week after we started dating. Fast forward twelve years (with a five year break in the middle), and we've now been to the theater together 169 times (20 visits to the Emery Bay).

4. Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Mica and I would eventually see all eight Harry Potter movies at the Grand Lake, but we started at Emery Bay.

5. Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

For any given movie, I might disagree with someone on some nuance of what the desired outcome ought to have been, but in this Reese Witherspoon romance, Mica and I wanted her to end up with different beaus. Mica favored suave Patrick Dempsey, while I leaned toward salt-of-the-earth Josh Lucas.

6. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

I've already discussed this movie as one of my Top 10 Time Loops. What strikes me about it in hindsight is how much more I liked it than I thought I would, and how often I still think about it, trying to puzzle through its tangled premise.

7. The Forgotten (2004)

[Spoiler warning.] There are several gotcha moments in this movie, but none greater than recoiling from my driver's seat perspective of Julianne Moore as another car suddenly rams into her passenger door. I think I jumped backward about three rows.

8. Valiant (2005)

Up until this point, digitally-animated films had either been great, or at least okay. Valiant brought the medium to full maturation by being completely boring and unworthy of a theatrical release. (Audiences agreed. Of 100 digitally-animated films that have sold at least one million tickets in the US, Valiant ranks 90th.)

9. Babies (2010)

(Previously reviewed.)

I like going to the movies by myself; I like going with a friend. Either way, I'm happy. At the Emery Bay, I went to 40 movies by myself, 22 with a single friend, and just 2 with two friends. Four friends accompanied me to Babies, making it a jolly good time.

10. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

My second viewing of my second favorite movie of 2012 (after Moonrise Kingdom), and, like Babies, with four friends in tow. A reminder of what a magical experience a theater can create for its audience.

Thank you, Emery Bay. I'll miss you.


  1. I used to cross the bridge sometimes in the early- to mid-90s to see films at the Emery Bay theater when I felt like getting out of The City for an bit (partly, as you'd noted previously, "because of its convenient, abundant, and free parking").

    It was the first -- and, to date remains the only -- theater to which I have ever stupidly driven with a human being in the trunk of my car. Such a large group wanted to see a film then showing that I couldn't cram them all into my seats, even after someone lay down across three people's laps in the back.

    R.I.P. Emery Bay, Object of Trunk Pilgrimage.

  2. I'm just now making it a habit of watching films in the theaters. Ten years ago I remember thinking the theater concept was dying and now I utilize it more then ever. Most of that though is just historical contingency. Growing up in Altuas, my family almost never patronized the local theater, indeed I don't have a strong enough memory but I doubt I watched more then 10 or so movies there. Off the top of my head, Stargate (on Christmas Eve), Pulp Fiction with this blog's author, Braveheart, Hot Shots part 2; maybe double that for movies I can't remember and that would be 8. We did watch some of the major films every year but always on our yearly baseball trip and maybe one other traveling opportunity. I LOVED watching movies in the theaters.

    Fast forward to college and all of a sudden I have the means and opportunity to go to films but I don't remember actually doing so that often. For sure, I was watching more then ever, especially after I discovered the local dollar theater that was close enough to walk to (and I started my habit of going to films by myself, especially in later college when I was mature enough not to care what others thought). I think in general though we usually would ignore the theater and rent the films later. More likely then for 8 to 10 of us to watch it together.

    Then I had children and the theater died. Going out is impossible with young kids, we might have gone out once a year to a film. Also, money was always tight and I would balk at the theater prices. For nearly a decade I watched very little in the theaters and honestly wasn't renting at a great frequency either, there are probably quite a few films from the mid 2000s I still need to see.

    Round about 5 years ago my children and I made a tradition of hitting up kids movies at the dollar theater, which at that price was competitive to renting at home. That proved to be a gateway drug, as the kids got older and more interested in more mature films, we moved from the dollar theater to the regular theater to the regular theater in the first week of release to the first weekend to standing in line opening night. All in all, I love watching movies in the theater.

    But the one thing lacking here from your present experience is the awesome architecture. All the theaters in North Austin are so incredibly generic. None are old enough to have any history, and they all are basically modern looking. Also what I find so incredibly strange still is that the bay area theaters compete for movies. We've talked about it and perhaps its just a product of the space between theaters here do to urban sprawl but I have never heard of a major theater not having a major movie. Either here or back in Illinois, though I wasn't paying attention.

  3. Commenting on your list.

    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon:
    This was a incredible movie but holy smokes(!) five times. I think my record for a film in the theater is 4 with the Matrix if you are counting our drive in experience, which I will.

    3000 Miles to Graceland:
    I remember being really excited about this film from the trailer. It came and went through the theaters when I wasn't attending and then I remember it being so universally panned I ended up skipping it at home. I saw about 6 minutes of it on TV within the last couple of years and it seemed just awful.

    Monsters Inc,
    Along with not watching films during this time, I also seemed to end up missing a lot of the Pixar craze. I actually didn't watch this film forever, and when my children were old enough to watch it they watched it without me meaning I missed that opportunity as well. Over time now I have seen the entire thing though honestly I'm not sure I ever purposely sat down and watched it from beginning to end.

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone:
    Haha, this one is even worse. That looked Micah gave me when I told her I hadn't seen any of these films. And you guys watched every single one in the theaters and she has read all the books. My brother Jon tells me the books are really worth reading, though getting through the first few that were targeting to a young crowd is a bit rough. I compare it to those who grew up and never watched Star Wars, missing one of the biggest cultural phenominoms. Olivia marathoned through the movies, but I wasn't watching them with her. Sophie was too young at the time to enjoy them though that has changed now, so maybe if she decides to watch them all I will make the run with her. [side note, I remember a really funny youtube video where someone who has never seen star wars from beginning to end but had "seen parts of them" described them. It seemed so bizarre that you would have just "seen parts", though that is exactly my experience with Harry Potter. Whether I was walking through while Olivia was watching, or parts I saw at the gym, I have memories of different parts of probably half of them, though I have no idea what is going on]

    Sweet Home Alabama:
    I honestly can't remember if I have seen this or not. I'm thinking I conflating it with some other chick flick. I care so little about this genre I can't be bothered to sort this out.

    The Butterfly Effect:
    I was excited about renting this film, despite it being panned fairly hard. But I was reading something that suggested a dog is seriously brutalized in the film and I couldn't handle that at all, so I have never brought myself to watch it. Maybe somebody could shed some light on that.

  4. The Forgotton:
    I only saw it once but I recall liking it. A little different then what I thought it would be though to be fair it is hard to describe this film in trailers.

    To prove your point, I've never even heard of this film. I had a similar arc as you, I used to think all computer animated movies where always going to be epic and fantastic, hilarious and well done. It seemed like the early releases where all home runs. I think my first experience that they might not all be great was with the film Robots, which is totally not fair because I have never even seen it. I just remember it being talked down a bit [I just did a quick look at wiki and it made 260 million and got 64% on RT so I don't know what the heck I'm talking about]. When my kids where young and we were traveling I would often try to rent them something to watch on our portable and I remember having this belief that literary anything "computer" animated would be a sure thing. Emphasize computer here because of course there was a huge library of drawn films and cartoons that were not so good, but I had this bias that the computer animated major films were inherently spectacular.

    Never seen it though an earlier description you gave made it sound very interesting.

    Saftely Not Guaranteed:
    Very good film. Still not sure about that ending, though as we have discussed, I have no idea how it could have been ended.