UA Tanforan 4 Cinemas

400 Tanforan Park,
San Bruno, CA 94066

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

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Tanforan 4 Lower Lobby and Auditorium Entrances

This was a very busy theater when it opened on December 20, 1974. The box office was located on the second level of the two-story mall. Patrons purchased tickets upstairs and rode the escalator downstairs. The entire lobby was open and you could look into it and throw things at the customers or spit on them. It was hell running this theater when the escalators broke down. We had to put a cover above the snack bar or people would spit on the attendants. The largest grossing film was “Grease” which played on three screens. The theater was always booked first run. It closed on December 10, 2000 and was demolished in December 2004.

Contributed by John tarantino

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

CSWalczak on January 23, 2011 at 2:29 am

It did not always book first run; in its last years, it was known as the Tanforan Discount Cinemas, and I think it became an independent.

Fastphilly on February 3, 2012 at 3:15 am

This theater was opened well before 1988. I seen Return Of The Jedi there in late 1983/early 1984.

ColinM on May 29, 2012 at 2:02 am

The UA Tanforan 4 Cinemas opened at the Tanforan Park Mall in San Bruno, California circa 1970. During the 70s and early 80s, the theatre was often United Artists' highest grossing venue in Northern California. The cinemas consisted of 4 auditoriums on the lower level of the mall, accessed by escalators behind the box office on the main level of the mall adjacent to the west parking lot entrance. The lobby of the theatre was open to the upper level and mall skylight. The largest of the 4 auditoriums (#3) featured approximately 600 seats and was utilized for the larger blockbuster releases. Above the door of each auditorium was a reader board with the film title and a large, colored, plastic numeral denoting the auditorium number. The booth had Christie projectors and utilized a platter system. For its time, it was a spacious, modern and comfortable cinema with decent sound and projection, though only auditorium #3 featured stereo sound. The space formerly occupied by the cinemas is today the lower level of the Barnes and Noble book store.

1966gt350h on July 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I saw the movie Coma there in 1978 and the movie Survive there in 1976, the mall opened in 1971 and Im almost positive that the theater opened at the same time.

pbignardi on July 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

I am 99% sure this theatre opened in 1975. I recall shopping at Tanforan during Christmas 1974 and looking down from the mezzanine above at the partially completed theater and thinking it looked abandoned. Several years later when it was closed – it looked more beat up, but also looked abandoned, and then it was removed. I saw a lot of movies in this place before it closed.

rivest266 on July 19, 2015 at 12:22 pm

This opened on December 20th, 1974. Grand opening ad in photo section. It was promoted as “4 theatres of the future”

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on July 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm

The entrance to the Edward’s Westminster Mall Cinemas in Westminster, CA looked similar to the box office/entrance area of Tanforan. Both built by UA, but the only two I’ve seen that looked so similar.

You can see a little of the big green number 4 in this picture:

jwmovies on March 20, 2022 at 2:46 pm

Like Cinedome Fremont, Meridian Quad, Alexandria SF and Festival in Walnut Creek, this was one of the best AND worst theaters I’ve been to ever! Wonderful times!😍😍😍

thomdlt296 on December 5, 2023 at 3:06 pm

For a 10 year old, the best part about this theater was entering the mall and taking the escalator down to the lobby. I loved looking down into the lobby from the mall. I remember seeing “Time After Time”, “Rocky II”, and “Flash Gordon”. I remember my brother leaving his brand new jacket in one of the theaters and he didn’t tell anyone until we got home. My dad was pretty mad, we had to drive all the way back from the Sunset. I will never forget the image of theater worker lifting the jacket from the lost and found bin. Everyone was relieved.

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