Flower Hill Cinema
2630 Via De La Valle,
2630 Via De La Valle,Del Mar, CA 92014
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The Flower Hill Theatre opened in the later part of the 1970’s. The seating configuration in some of the auditoriums suggest that it might it might have initially have had fewer screens. The cinema ran a mixed fare of first run and art films in its later years.
Contributed by John Coursey
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Recent comments (view all 5 comments)
This theatre opened in 1976 as a Tri Plex and by mid 80’s the larger theatre was split into 2 theatres. My family used to spend the latter part of Summer in Del Mar. I went here frequently. My first recollection was in ‘76 when I saw a DF of Bad News Bears and Paper Moon. Is it really demolished?
Yep, completely leveled for the new Whole Foods. I took some photos on the final night last month. I’ll try to upload them here soon, but here they are on CinemaTour: http://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/1964.html
The projection in the latter years was truly some of the worst in San Diego (though, when they went digital, they were able to “letterbox” Scope pictures on the fixed 1.85 screens—before everything was cropped). But, along with the second-run La Paloma, it was one of the only places in North County to see independent and foreign film (which ran alongside Hollywood fare). Now, Landmark’s La Jolla Village Cinemas is the farthest North one can watch hot-ticket platform releases.
Malcolm Leo’s documentary “The Beach Boys: An American Band” (1985) showed here on January 30, 1985.
Article about the closure of the theater:
VISTA —— Theater chain UltraStar Cinemas is in various stages of ending leases at three movie houses in North County that came into its fold more than a decade ago from the previously troubled Edwards Theaters.
“Our hope is to put our focus on getting out of older leases,” said Damon Rubio, executive vice president of operations for Vista-based UltraStar.
In the meantime, a new ownership group has been assembled to take over two of the three UltraStar theaters affected by the decision. The group is in the midst of building a luxury “VIP” chain in Southern California that will have waiters and waitresses serving food and beverages to patrons who will sit in La-Z-Boy-style recliners, pushing buttons to summon service.
“It’s a brand-new, unrelated company that isn’t ready to announce its name,” said Elizabeth Schreiber, vice president and general manager for Donohue Shriber.
Nonetheless, Schreiber said the newly formed company is likely to unveil its identity by this summer, when it reopens the two spruced-up theaters. Others are planned in Los Angeles and Orange counties, she said. Rubio said the investors are not associated with UltraStar.
Donohue Shriber is a privately held real estate investment trust in Costa Mesa that owns the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, where one of the former UltraStar theaters was located.
UltraStar, which currently operates 14 theaters in Southern California and Arizona, closed two theaters in North San Diego County after the company opted to not renew leases, Rubio explained.
“They were old Edwards theaters that we never had a chance to structure the way we wanted. We had to live with what we had there,” he said.
The two theaters already closed are the UltraStar Del Mar Highlands, at 12905 El Camino Real; and the UltraStar La Costa, 6941 El Camino Real in Carlsbad.
The Del Mar Highlands closed in January for remodeling, and was originally envisioned as a part of UltraStar’s chain of theaters. But a new ownership group took over the lease, and is assuming the debt on the huge “multimillion-dollar” renovation now under way, according to Schreiber and Rubio.
That theater and UltraStar’s La Costa location, which closed May 2, are expected to reopen as luxury boutique theaters under the new ownership group, Schreiber said. A spokesman for the new ownership could not be immediately reached for comment.
A third UltraStar theater, Del Mar’s Flower Hill, at 2630 Via de la Valle in Del Mar, will close this summer. The city of Del Mar recently approved a permit for the Whole Foods chain to build a grocery store at the site.
Rubio said the three properties previously came into UltraStar’s fold more than a decade ago, when it bought several theaters from Edwards Theaters. That’s when Edwards slipped into bankruptcy and restructured its operations. Edwards, like many other theater chains during that period —— including Mann Theatres, Silver Cinemas, Carmike Cinemas, United Artists and Loews Cineplex —— filed for bankruptcy, as it had borrowed heavily to expand. Edwards began shutting down or selling off unprofitable, mostly older and smaller, theaters.
“You won’t kick out a tenant unless you feel you can do much better,” said Leonard Baron, a real estate professor at San Diego State University. “Movie theaters are generally good for retail centers because they draw people.” Patrons grab a coffee, ice cream or whatever at shops that are often close to theaters.
In San Diego County, UltraStar operates six theaters. The closing of the Flower Hill theater will bring the total to five, however.
The remaining theaters are Oceanside’s Mission Marketplace, 431 College Blvd.; Poway’s Poway Creekside, 13475 Poway Road; Bonsall’s River Village, 5256 South Mission Road; Chula Vista, 555 Broadway; and San Diego’s Mission Valley, 7510 Hazard Center Drive.
UltraStar also operates theaters in other parts of Southern California and Arizona. These include its newly acquired Temecula theater, which is in a strip mall at the northwestern corner of Ynez and Rancho California roads; one in Anaheim; three in Riverside and San Bernardino counties; and three in Arizona.
After the third UltraStar theater is closed, the chain will have 141 movie screens companywide and roughly 280 employees in San Diego County and Temecula, and 575 workers altogether.
UltraStar is rolling out its own line of luxury theaters. The first was in the affluent Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. The next is set for in Anaheim, with others eventually planned in San Diego County. The pace of the expansion of these new branded theaters, called “UltraLux,” will depend on the economy, Rubio said.
“It remains to be seen,” he said. “Hopefully, the economy turns around in the next year or two.”