New Port Theatre

2905 East Coast Highway,
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

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Showing 1 - 25 of 35 comments

DavidZornig on July 29, 2020 at 7:53 am

1949 Grand Opening photo as Port Theatre added credit Michael Newman.

GlenBarrie on August 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm

interesting detail,
when the theater closed in 1998, “Rosebud” was lettered on the Marquise, it remained there for many years. The theater is now re opened, newly remodeled, and serving food, with the movies. I have not been there since it re opened.

Richie_T on November 20, 2012 at 9:45 am

I’ll be there for the Lord of the Rings marathon… can’t wait… loved this theater back in the day… thrilled to have it back!

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on November 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

Reopened now as a luxury cinema:

Marcel on April 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Glad to hear it’s being used again. It’s in such a beautiful area. I used to pass this theatre on the way to Laguna Beach in the 90’s.

TLSLOEWS on February 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

The new facade looks like soundproofing material,well at least they are fixing it up.

CTCrouch on February 3, 2011 at 12:54 am

Great that councilwoman Gardner made the effort to keep everyone informed and the Port in the news; not so great that she throws in the “count me out” and “I’d just as soon watch it on my tv” comments, in reference to food service being added.

CSWalczak on February 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

According to a a newsletter recently sent by the councilwoman who represents the Corona Del Mar area, the seismic retrofitting and other improvements are progressing and that she expects the theater to reopen by the end of 2011: View link

coweyhere on November 25, 2010 at 11:51 pm

A photo from November 2010:

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Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm

It just looks like so many theatres built near the Ocean.East or West coast. on February 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

The news is not good. Here’s what the “renovation” looks like so far:
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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 14, 2008 at 8:53 pm

From a brief item in Boxoffice Magazine, October 1, 1949: “Ted Jones, president of the Western Amusement Co., was here recently for the opening of the new $100,000 Port Theatre, erected on Coast Highway by contractor-owner Ralph Wilmot.” The headline read “Lease of Nearby Parking Lot Clears Way for Opening at Corona Del Mar.” The opening had apparently been in doubt due to the failure of the owner to provide the off-street parking the city had required as a condition of the permit to build the theater.

Later in the article there’s a paragraph about a lawsuit against Wilmot brought by a group of investors claiming they had had an agreement to trade a Long Beach motel for the theater, and that Wilmot had later refused to complete the deal. The court was asked to appoint a receiver to take charge of the theater until the suit could be settled. Maybe the owner’s various legal problems had something to do with the lack of fanfare for the Port’s opening.

Interesting that the intro paragraph of this page says the theater again lacks off-street parking.

kisaudi on July 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm

does anyone have any other historic information on the Port Theater?

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 21, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Please see my letter of March 2007. Thanks!

BillGuzik1 on July 14, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Remodeling of the theatre is now underway, which will take about a year. Sounds like it will be more modern and plans have been approved for added dining. I’m just pleased that it’s been saved. Here’s the article with photos for viewing. View link

kencmcintyre on May 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm

I took some pictures today.No signs of re-opening yet.

CTCrouch on January 28, 2008 at 12:26 am

In a fortunate, last minute, twist, the Port now appears heading for a rebirth. According to the 1/26/08 Orange County Register, the property’s new owner, Fariborz Maseeh, plans on reopening the Port as a cinema.

kencmcintyre on November 13, 2007 at 4:15 pm

The portholes remind me of the Vern Theater on Olympic in Los Angeles.

Rockatansky on November 13, 2007 at 4:06 pm

here’s a few pictures i took of Port Theater on March 2007.
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uptownjen on November 6, 2007 at 7:09 pm

I just purchased the newly-remastered Beatles movie Help! today, and two ticket stubs from the Port are included in the artwork. The two tickets, one for a 10 AM show and the other for a 7:30 PM show, are dated September 1, 1965. The price, including tax, for the “Premiere Showing” was $1.49.

kencmcintyre on June 26, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Here is an article about the closing from the LA Times dated 8/18/98:

Carol Selva wasn’t exactly teary over the imminent shuttering of the Port Theatre, but she did have a distant look that said something about the power of nostalgia.

Selva, a 48-year-old mother of two from Newport Beach, has been a fan of the Corona del Mar movie house for more than two decades. She grew accustomed to the worn seats when her first husband was wooing her in the ‘70s, and soon became a regular.

On Friday, Selva got her ticket for Manuel Poirier’s “Western,” the Port’s final film before it closes Thursday, and gulped.

“I read in the papers about it closing and I’m not happy,” she said. “You always know these things are going to happen, because there’s change. That’s really OK in a way… . Progress can be good. But I’ll really miss it… . I bet a lot of people will.”

True enough. Most of those who attended shows over the Port’s final weekend stressed that it was more than just a place to see pictures.

To them, a movie multiplex in a mall—the one with the screens numbering in the teens and foamy stadium-seating climbing up the walls—is just a place to see pictures. The Port, they agreed, was more: It was a landmark—stylish, funky and a little ruined, all at the same time.

Mark L. Jackson and his wife, Anne, trekked from Balboa Island, something they’ve been doing for years. Mark Jackson, 39, said he was first brought to the theater by his dad in the early 1960s. It seemed different then.

“I was a kid {so} it looked huge in that way everything seems big and great to you when you’re young,” he recalled. “I wouldn’t exactly call it majestic, but it always impressed me. I grew up with the Port, so it’s like I’m losing something that belongs to me.”

Agreed Anne Jackson: “It has character, like all old things do.”

Character wasn’t enough in the end.

In recent years, the Port frequently changed its playbill to build a more diverse following, but the plan never took. Except for the loyalists, attendance has been slipping, and Landmark Theatre Corp., which has run the single-screen, 930-seat institution since 1989, decided to let its lease expire at the end of the month.

The Port’s manager, Mike Peterson, lamented the move.

“We showed a huge variety of films, and I loved working here,” he said. “The customers were always extra friendly, and a lot of people said it was their favorite theater.”

It clearly was for Dennis Leslie, who managed the Port from 1974 to 1987. A fixture to patrons, he chatted with them about the movies and their lives. Leslie noted that the theater frequently staged tributes to stars who settled in Orange County, including John Wayne, Ruby Keeler and animator Chuck Jones.

The Port was built in 1951 by Ted and Peggy Jones of the Western Amusement Co. of Los Angeles. Major Hollywood movies were offered for a quarter century, then the Port turned to foreign imports in 1976 when it screened Bernard Tavernier’s moody French release “The Clockmaker.”

“With the final curtain coming down, it brings to a close the last bastion of single-screen movie houses that, at one time, dotted every neighborhood in Orange County,” Leslie said. “Its passing will leave a void in movie memories.”

The void for Audrey Ko, 59, of Seal Beach will be the arty and sometimes idiosyncratic flicks she’s come to expect. During the last 30 years, Ko has seen the works of Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa—all the masters of cinema—at the Port, where she went Friday for a last visit.

So have lots of others. Michael Morgan, who was working the box office Saturday, reported that business has been up as people have come to pay their last respects, with attendance averaging about 100 people per show.

“It’s been pretty busy, more busy than usual, and people are curious about what’s going to be in its place,” Morgan said. “People seem pretty upset; you can tell they are feeling nostalgic.”

Ko can still watch imports closer to her home, in Seal Beach’s Bay Theatre, one of the last antique theaters around. But it won’t be the same.

“The Bay is very nice, and I go there a lot, {but} the Port is my favorite,” she said. “The range of movies and the selection, {it’s} just always the best for me. I never even really minded it when it was so hot in summer you had to fan yourself.”

While Ko sighed, Anthony Reyes just grinned, puzzled by the concern. Reyes, a 20-year-old surfer from Huntington Beach, dropped in Thursday evening with his girlfriend, Pati Dunn, 19, also of Huntington Beach, to see a wave-rider double-bill of “Big Wednesday” and “The Endless Summer II.”

A cool place, nice looks, being so quaint and all, but why the hand-wringing?

“I like it {because} they have movies like this, surfing movies,” Reyes said. “Anyway, there are other places for that. They’re always tearing down ancient things, {so} you can’t get too down.”

His girlfriend, however, worried that such film fare won’t be shown anywhere else: “It’s just bad when things people like aren’t there anymore,” Dunn said.

monika on June 14, 2007 at 8:07 am

Here are two photos of the Port taken in May:
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