"Raiders of the Lost Ark" Last Movie to Be Shown at San Jose's Iconic Winchester Century Dome Theaters

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It’s the end of an era for a Bay Area movie theater. On Sunday, San Jose’s Century dome theaters on Winchester Boulevard showed its last film. After the final credits rolled, workers started shutting the place down--for good. NBC Bay Area’s Kimberly Tere reports from San Jose with reaction from longtime customers. (Published Monday, Mar 31, 2014)

    Unless an unforeseen change occurs, this was the last weekend to see a film at San Jose's iconic Winchester Century dome theaters.

    The final screening at the Century 21, 22 and 23  theaters was on Sunday at 7 p.m.: A  goodbye showing of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  Perhaps the people who want to save these nearly-half-century-old structures (the oldest of the domes tuns 50 in November) from the wrecking ball can find inspiration in Indiana Jones.

    The character is, after all, very adept at outrunning extremely large round boulders and has a knack for saving and preserving historical artifacts against all odds.  He persevered and claimed victory in all his adventures.

    But can local preservationists do the same?  They are certainly trying.

    "Raiders of Lost Ark" Last Film at Iconic Dome Theaters

    [BAY] "Raiders of Lost Ark" Last Film at Iconic Dome Theaters
    It’s the end of an era for one movie theater in the South Bay. San Jose’s Century Domes on Winchester Boulevard will be showing its last film. NBC Bay Area’s Kimberly Tere was at the iconic theater with more on why it's closing. (Published Sunday, Mar 30, 2014)

    One woman who used to work the snack bar at these theaters has posted a video to YouTube, pleading with people to sign a petition on change.org to save the domes, which are located next to the Winchester Mystery House across the street from Santana Row.

    Final Screening at San Jose's Dome Theaters

    [BAY] Final Screening at San Jose's Dome Theaters
    'Raiders of the Lost Ark' will be the final movie shown at San Jose's dome theaters. Bob Redell reports. (Published Friday, Mar 28, 2014)

    More than 6,000 people have signed their names to the website, asking Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose to preserve the domes and have them designated as historical structures. There's a Save the Domes Facebook page, too. Turns out the city is already working on this.

    Next month the state will consider historical designation for these theaters, and the federal government is expected to consider that as well.

    San Jose Dome Theaters on Verge of Showing Last Film

    [BAY] San Jose Dome Theaters on Verge of Showing Last Film
    NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro has the latest in a fight to save the iconic Century 21 Dome Theaters in San Jose. (Published Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014)

    "We don’t expect you to preserve all of them," Shannon Guggenheim of the Retro Dome said. "That’s not realistic, but could you see fit to preserve one of them and really re-imagine it into something innovative and exciting for this area."

    Decision Day For San Jose's Dome Theaters

    [BAY] Decision Day For San Jose's Dome Theaters
    Today is decision day for the fate of the dome theaters on Winchester Boulevard in San Jose. Marianne Favro reports. (Published Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014)

    Still, the families who own this property want to tear down the theaters and redevelop these large parcels of land to put into something that will make much more money than these theaters are bringing. 

    Especially since the dome theaters built in the 1960s don't bring in the crowds like they used to as they compete with the big multiplexes and on-demand movies at home.  The owners of Santana row have already entered into a long-term lease to develop the property.

    On Sunday night, a thousand people crowded into Century 21 for a sold out show and a farewell party.

    "I am here to relive a little bit of my youth and say goodbye to the rest of it," moviegoer Steve Dorsey said. "I worked here for a few years in high school and been seeing movies here since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and now, they’re tearing it down. It breaks my heart."

    "It’s the last chance to say goodbye, the last chance to see a movie and a movie that I actually haven’t seen," another moviegoer John Parker said.

    The Century dome theaters opened in San Jose between 1964 and 1966.

    "Vincent Rainey designed these pod-shaped buildings that were kind of speckled all the way down 880 and they are really going by the wayside," Guggenheim said.

    Some former employees said they hope at least one dome can stay standing.

    "Hopefully, they can save one instead of replacing it with another store," former Century 21 employee Ron Szaely said. "I like stores, but this is better, huh?"