Placerville Cinema 4

2885 Ray Lawyer Drive,
Placerville, CA 95667

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Signature Theatres

Functions: Auto Repair Shop

Nearby Theaters

The 850-seat Placerville Cinema 4 was opened on December 9, 1983 by West Side Valley Theatres, which operated 26 screens at 11 sites in northern California. It was noted in the Mountain Democrat that people no longer had to drive to Sacramento (about 43 miles) to see a movie other than the one playing at the Empire Theatre. Jim Toler, manager of the Empire for 29 years, said he was going to try and keep it open as long as possible even though he was going to have to bid against West Side Valley Theatres for films.

While being operated by Signature Theatres, the Cinema Four closed on January 9, 1998, just about three weeks after the Placerville 8 opened. The seats and equipment was donated to a local community theater group.

The building has most recently been occupied by Napa Auto Parts.

Contributed by rpierce

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Rootieboy on March 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

The last movie I can remember seeing here was Star Trek Generations back in 1994. Shortly after the Folsom 14 opened with stadium seating, DTS and larger screens. We no longer went to Cinema 4 after that. I moved away from the area in 1997. I also remember the Eldorado Drive-in before it shut down in 1988.

rainestorm on January 6, 2022 at 11:59 am

I grew up on HBO and was used to watching movies at home. I remember them holding a contest to see who would name the new theatre coming to Placerville and I sent in 50 submissions thinking that my incredibly creative names (Dream Palace I think was one of them) would be a shoo-in. It never even occurred to me to think of something as mundane and pedestrian as Placerville Cinema 4. I was crushed. Still, once the theatre opened, my movie-going increased dramatically. In the 80s, going to the movies regularly was a treat. There was no streaming competition or even cable competition to speak of and everyone truly was talking about the same thing.

Then I landed my first job here. Okay, maybe not my first job. That dubious honor goes to the month I worked at Burger King. As far as I’m concerned, though, this is where my working life began.

I was a junior in High School and I started here just a couple of weeks before Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home opened. The thrill and energy of the crowd stuck with me and made me a lifelong cinema fan. The first movie I ever saw here for free was Crocodile Dundee. I was thrilled at being able to watch any movie playing for free and I made an effort to watch them all, good or bad. Nothing creates a cinephile quite like working at the movies.

I worked here until the end of 1987 when I started working at the Empire Theatre. Up until 1982, the Empire was the only place you could watch movies and when I started working there it was still a single-screen house. Sadly, just before the summer of 1988, the owner of the Empire converted it into a two-plex, stripping it of all of its charm. Today it is an antique store. When I visit Placerville, I go into the store not to shop, but with melancholy I take in what remnants there are of the old theatre.

The Placerville Cinema 4 is where I learned to be projectionist and at that time it was my greatest wish to be in the union. That dream never came true and projectionists are now a thing of the past, unless you’re working somewhere like the New Beverly or one of the American Cinematheque theatres, where they still play Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm.

I took my projectionist experience to every job after that, circling back around to the Placerville Cinema 4 in 1990, where I was assistant manager for a time.

I moved to San Diego not long after and worked at Mann Hazard Center 7 for about two weeks before hanging up movie theatre work for good.

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