430 Emerson Street,
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Landmark Theatres(USA) (Official)
Operated by: Landmark Theatres (USA)
Functions: Movies (Classic), Movies (Foreign), Movies (Independent)
Previous Names: Aquarius 1 & II
Built as a twin screen theatre in 1969 with 450 seats. It opened on October 1, 1969 with Robert Forster in “Medium Cool” & James Caan in “The Rain People”. It has been operated by Landmark Theatres since 1985, the Aquarius Theatre features the finest in independent and foreign language cinema.
It is unique in both design and style, sporting two separate houses united under the Atlantean/underwater inspired wall murals and décor.
Cinematographer Haskell Wexler and Francis Ford Coppola’s feature film debuts were among the first films shown at the theatre. Located around the corner from Stanford University in the heart of Downtown Palo Alto, the Aquarius Theatre has the benefit of being situated in and around some of the best dining, shopping and recreation areas in Palo Alto.
The Aquarius Theatre is one of the few theatre’s in the San Francisco Bay Area to regularly offer up midnight movies. Annually, the Midnight Madness series runs from mid-summer to mid-fall. This series features the best in classic, cult and soon-to-be-cult films with fun, games, and prize giveaways in both theatres on both Fridays and Saturday nights.
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Recent comments (view all 7 comments)
A charming touch about this theatre are the witty comments the management has been putting underneath the movie titles on the marquee for the past several years. Sometimes they are quotes from the movie, sometimes terrible puns on the movie title or plot premise. Sometimes you have to know something about the movie in order to get the joke, other times not. Now THAT’S true arthouse showmanship!!
The Aquarius is yet another irreplaceable and all-too-charming bit of cinematic history. Despite its need for a restoration job, the movie house has the benefit of being situated in a quiet corner of bustling Downtown Palo Alto, which means that it garners a very healthy dose of students on weekends. I simply adore the place … houses such as these take filmgoers back to a simpler time; they are living reminders of what once was and what can be again (hopefully, Landmark will keep it open for many years to come). And with the over-century-old brick building and haunting Stanford Theatre one short block over, these two blocks are extremely rich; not just with local history, but American history as well.
There were many late nights at the AQuarius (AQ) where it would be just us both. I’d hang out in your halls, and race through the concession stand to talk to the audience, feel their warmth, share some good movie suggestions, then back upstairs to lower the lights, tun on the lamp, hit hit the sound and pull open the dowser. The shining highway of sights took us all away for a few hours and made us all forget what brought us in. The family that works there is suportive in the endeavor to take all my senses away. I hear them playing out in the lobby and it tells me I’m in a safe space. Decades of employees all behaving like family. And as family, each has earned the right to chip a corner of the stand to let the building know htey’ve been there. The lights come up a and we all file out through shifting patways and into th enight air. It’s brisk aeven in the Summer nd the worl tells us it’s back to business as usual.
The two films whose titles aren’t mentioned in the description were Medium Cool and The Rain People.
Per the box office attendant, seating capacities are as follows:
1 – 235
2 – 145
Total seats: 380.
I’ve posted information and photos from a recent visit here.
The Aquarius I & II opened on October 1st, 1969 with “Medium Cool” and “The Rain People”. Grand opening ad posted.