Torrey Pines Cinema

6344 W. Sahara Avenue,
Las Vegas, NV 89109

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Functions: Church

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Opened on May 25, 1990. Torrey Pines Cinema had a good start, but the cinema was doomed later in life.

A Theatre Near You purchased the three-screen cinema in June 1996. A Theatre Near You also owned the Mountain View cinemas. In July 1996 just one month after taking over the theatres, the Disabilities Act sued A Theatre Near You because the theatres needed widening of restrooms; A Theatre Near You closed all locations in early in 1997 after losing $500,000 in Las Vegas. Dollar Cinema took over the locations and Torrey Pines Cinema would close in 1998 after near by Mountain View 3 closed in November of 1997. Torrey Pines Cinema lived on as a Goodwill Store in November 1999. By 2018 it had become a church.

Contributed by Cine5

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

mp775 on February 14, 2006 at 1:10 pm

The retail floor occupies both the lobby and auditorium areas of the building. The projection booths are still visible on the back wall of the auditorium.

kencmcintyre on December 12, 2009 at 12:18 pm

This is from the Las Vegas Review-Journal on 3/13/91:

Triumph and loss. Conflict and conciliation. Suspense and intrigue. They’re the dramatic elements you’d find in a good movie. But you can find the same elements off-screen -playing now at a theater near you. Las Vegas' volatile movie theater scene has undergone some upheavals in recent weeks-some large, some small.

Late last month, a two-screen independent theater, the Torrey Pines Cinema, closed after less than a year of trying to compete with local first-run theaters operated by well-established circuits. By next week, the three-screen Mountain View Cinema- which shut its doors late last year-will reopen as a locally operated discount house.

What could be the most significant change of all, however, showed up at the Las Vegas Drive-in: the suspense thriller “The Silence of the Lambs,” which has been the nation’s top box-office attraction for four weeks running. The presence of a box-office hit at Las Vegas' only remaining drive-in theater might not seem at all unusual. But “Silence of the Lambs” is an Orion Pictures release. San Francisco-based Syufy Enterprises operates the Las Vegas Drive-in. And “Silence” is the first Orion release to play a Syufy theater in Las Vegas in more than five years.

Orion and Syufy officials became tangled in a protracted contract dispute after Syufy balked at playing Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 drama “The Cotton Club.” In turn, Orion refused to license its pictures to Syufy theaters. In Las Vegas, that meant Orion releases played at theaters operated by rival United Artists, which bought the locally owned Roberts chain in August 1987. Until now.

While “Silence of the Lambs” continues to play at UA’s Paradise 6 and the UA-affiliated Gold Coast Twin, its presence at the drive-in signals a peace treaty in the longtime Orion-Syufy war. “I guess there comes a time when whatever it is that makes people not do business together goes by the wayside, and you do business,” said Syufy general manager Jack Myhill in a telephone interview from the company’s California headquarters. “It’s possible we’ll play some of their pictures in Las Vegas. We’re hopeful our relationship is going to be rebuilt.”

That could happen as soon as next month, when Orion is scheduled to release “F/X 2,” but may be unable to book it at the Gold Coast if “Silence” and Kevin Costner’s Oscar favorite “Dances With Wolves” continue their strong runs. “These things happen-wars don’t last forever,” said UA’s Charles Boeckman, who formerly booked the chain’s Las Vegas theaters. “Other companies have been out with other exhibitors for a long time and they come back.”

Clouding the picture further is the fact that UA’s three Las Vegas theaters are up for sale. Only the Paradise 6 shows first-run movies on a consistent basis; the Sunrise 7 and Cinema 8 are both discount houses. (UA also books the Gold Coast Hotel-Casino’s two-screen theater, which shows first-run features.) But the Syufy-Orion truce “isn’t even a criterion” in the decision to put the theaters on the market, said Robert Vallone, general manager for UA’s Western theaters. UA’s top management has “decided that a lot of states don’t fit into their core,” Vallone said. “For years, we were basically a coastal company- California, Florida, all the Eastern Seaboard.” Selling the Las Vegas theaters is part of a “back to basics” move, he commented.

Boeckman said that speculation surrounding a Syufy-Orion truce had been circulating for “over a year.” But Orion’s box-office success with its two recent hits “might have speeded things up, who knows.” The hit status of Orion’s “Dances With Wolves” and “Silence of the Lambs” at the Gold Coast also affected the Torrey Pines Cinemas, which picked up two other first-run Orion releases, Woody Allen’s Oscar-nominated “Alice” and the science fiction action thriller “Eve of Destruction,” before it closed Feb. 28.

The Torrey Pines filed for reorganization Feb. 8 under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act and remained open while showing “Alice” and “Eve of Destruction.” According to court documents, Torrey Pines operator Ted Pantazis owes more than $200,000-including, his landlord alleges, almost $69,000 in rent for the theater, located in the West Sahara Town Center at Sahara Avenue and Torrey Pines Drive.

On Feb. 25, however, the Torrey Pines filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case, stating Pantazis wanted to file an anti-trust case against various movie distributors and could not do so unless the bankruptcy filing was dismissed. According to the motion filed by Pantazis attorney Eleissa C. Lavelle, the Torrey Pines had doubled the gross revenues of previous months with its first-run showing of “Alice.”

“The greatest impediment to the success of the (Torrey Pines) … has been the inability … to obtain quality first-run films from film distributors, which (Pantazis) believes "may be the result of illegal agreements with (Pantazis') only competition in this market,” Lavelle’s motion states.

The “only competition” referred to is Syufy, which owns and operates 32 screens at the Cinedome 6, Redrock 11, Century 12 and three-screen Parkway walk-in theaters, as well as the four-screen Las Vegas Drive-in. Syufy has been the target of numerous lawsuits, including a 1986 Justice Department suit alleging the chain has conspired to monopolize the Las Vegas movie market by buying out its competitors, which previously operated the Redrock, Parkway, Fox Charleston and Cine Boulevard theaters. (The Fox Charleston was demolished and the Cine Boulevard closed in 1989, after six unsuccessful months as a discount theater.)

Booking the critically acclaimed “Alice” in January signaled a breakthrough for the Torrey Pines, according to the theater’s bankruptcy affidavit, “and it was anticipated following that breakthrough, that additional quality, first-run films would be forthcoming.” But the bankruptcy petition, filed to give the Torrey Pines “sufficient time to reorganize its debts, in anticipation of its receipt of the first-run movies over the next several months” instead “has had an unexpected, unforeseeable adverse effect, in that the film distributors have now completely refused to allocate any additional films” to the Torrey Pines, the motion alleges.

Lavelle declined to comment on the motion because it is scheduled to be heard March 26 in Bankruptcy Court. Some industry observers, however, attributed the Torrey Pines Cinemas' problem to its small size, location and lack of a track record in drawing audiences.

One of the theater’s first attractions was a first-run showing of “Gremlins 2: The New Batch,” which “performed poorly” at the Torrey Pines, said a distribution official for Warner Bros., which released the movie, who asked not to be quoted by name. The movie “did much better” across town at the Syufy-operated Century Desert 12, he said. Even box-office returns on “Alice,” which court documents stated had doubled the theater’s grosses, were “awful,” said Boeckman. “I don’t have the Vegas (box-office) charts, but I know the gross was low. I compared it to the last Woody Allen picture, which I think was `Crimes and Misdemeanors,‘ which I think did 10 times better” at the Gold Coast.

The Torrey Pines may have had a promising Spring Valley location, “but it’s very difficult today to operate a theater with two or three screens,” said Syufy’s Myhill. The Torrey Pines “should never have been built,” said Don Lesh, former operator of the Huntridge Theater who will be running the Mountain View Cinema when it reopens as a bargain house. “It’s a very nice theater, but what do you do with the damn thing?” Its two screens provided inadequate competition for Syufy’s six-screen Cinedome and 11-screen Redrock in western Las Vegas, he said.

The Justice Department’s 1986 suit was one of the few antitrust cases pursued during the Reagan Administration, but it lost the case in February 1989, when U.S. District Judge William Orrick of San Francisco ruled in Syufy’s favor with a ground-breaking opinion that cited recent entertainment breakthroughs including home video and cable television. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Orrick’s decision in May 1990. The Solicitor General declined to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last month in a related case, U.S. District Judge Irving Hill granted Syufy a summary judgment, dismissing monopoly charges in a lawsuit the Roberts Co. filed in 1984, when the group operated the Mountain View and Huntridge theaters. (Roberts subsequently built the Paradise and Sunrise and acquired the Cinema 8 from another theater operator before selling out to UA.) Syufy’s legal victories may signal a tough road ahead for the Torrey Pines, said one observer who asked not to be quoted by name. “So the guy’s going to sue,” he said. “If the Justice Department can’t beat Syufy, then how can he?”

The Syufy case “established some very good law from their point of view,” said Dallas attorney Edwin Tobolowsky, whom Pantazis consulted regarding possible legal action. Tobolowsky has “represented a lot of motion picture exhibitors, independent theater operators who have had difficulty in obtaining first-run pictures,” he said during a telephone interview from Dallas.

On behalf of the Torrey Pines, Tobolowsky “wrote letters to all the major studios asking for the right to license movies free of any bids,” Tobolowsky said. But the studios declined, contending that the Torrey Pines drew the same audience as Syufy’s western theaters and would have to compete with the chain-operated theaters for the right to show movies.

“The Torrey Pines was just located too close to the others as far as the distributors were concerned,” Tobolowsky said. “For him to be successful, he would have had to have a steady stream of first-run movies. If you play first-run one week and not the next week, people don’t really understand what you’re playing. Moviegoing is, to some extent, a matter of habit.”

In Las Vegas, that moviegoing habit is, by and large, restricted to mainstream big-studio releases. The Torrey Pines, on occasion, gave moviegoers a chance to see “Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams” and catch the Oscar-winning Italian comedy-drama “Cinema Paradiso” after its brief run at Syufy’s Parkway. Finding a home for such specialized movies in Las Vegas remains a problem, said Tom Ortenberg, western division manager for Hemdale Pictures.

“I think Las Vegas is a great film town-it turns out great grosses and it has some great theaters,” he said. “For commercial fare, the Las Vegas moviegoing public is served royally. But for movies that need a little TLC …”

cupboardoflove on March 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm

When I moved to Vegas, the Torrey Pines Cinema was always a three-screen location. It must’ve had the third screen installed during 1991 – 1993.

Similar to the Mountain View location, there was one large screen and two (much) smaller screens. I think the most memorable note of this theater is they played Rocky Horror every Saturday night before the theater finally shut down in 1997 (and where it transferred to the Tropicana Cinemas).

For a brief period of time, around 1995, the theater actually played first run films. I remember seeing Mortal Kombat, The Prophecy and To Wong Foo during their opening weekends. My friends and I were excited that there was a theater closer to our houses playing first run films… but that didn’t last long.

It sucks this location no longer exists, but I see more people inside the Goodwill now than I ever did when the building was actually a movie theater.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Ken mc,good story on the theatre’s money problems.It shouldn’t have been built.

coffee4binky on May 13, 2012 at 1:36 am

I can’t recall all of the movies I’ve seen at this theater. Some were second viewings, like GoldenEye and Pulp Fiction, and some were just movies I missed. Since I was within biking distance, as a child, and the movies were a dollar, I’ve seen a good many movies here, and pumped a good many quarters into the arcade machines. Cool Runnings, Jurassic Park, Last Boy Scout, just to name a small slim few.

Oh, Rocky Horror. From age 12 to 17 or 18 I used to go to the weekly showings of Rocky Horror at this theater. I learned all kind of bad things from the people at this showings (I mean, bad behavior like Dazed and Confused, which I saw at Torrey Pines). I also remember how dumb the audience became, making me stop coming to the Rocky Horror showings.

coffee4binky on May 13, 2012 at 1:37 am

Oh, only movie I ever walked out on I saw at this theater: D2

frankasu03 on November 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Great Review Journal piece above. Most of my experiences with “Torrey Pines” was during its' “2nd Run” heydey. Last “1st run film I saw there was "Gremlins 2.” Not a huge arcade, but they had “Street Fighter 2,” so there was always a crowd. Great variety of movies here: “A League of their Own,” “Necessary Roughness,” “Stargate,” and (ugh) “Jury Duty.” Cheap snacks, if I recall correctly.

richjr37 on September 24, 2018 at 12:02 pm

A church sits here now.

rivest266 on October 4, 2019 at 12:55 pm

This opened on May 25th, 1990. Article and Grand opening ad posted in the photo section.

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