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Century-old Berkeley movie theater faces final fade-out

Century-old Berkeley movie theater faces final fade-out
Century-old Berkeley movie theater faces final fade-out 02:09

BERKELEY -- The curtain is about to close on the last commercially operated movie theater in Berkeley.

The Regal UA theater is expected to be part of Regal Cinemas' nationwide downsizing plan.

The theater on Shattuck Ave. has endured for 100 years and is a familiar place for locals to take in a movie. Many say shuttering this venue would be like losing a part of Berkeley.

"Didn't really surprise me to tell you the truth because the California is closed, the Shattuck is closed. This was the last one. It was a matter of time," said James Fredrickson, who lives in the East Bay.

Fredrickson has been a frequent visitor of the shops, restaurants and theaters in downtown Berkeley for the past 45 years.

"Berkeley is no longer the Berkeley that it was. I don't think it's going to get interesting but a lot more boring," he added.

Regal UA Theater in Berkeley

According to Business Insider, this Regal location is slated to be one of 39 theaters nationwide that will close next month. Regal's parent company Cineworld Group filed for bankruptcy last year.

As longtime fixtures of the Berkeley community disappear Faith Darling and Julie Bergen joined a growing chorus of disappointment. 

"It's not the same watching movies at home even if you have a big screen. When it's a comedy you don't laugh out loud. When you want to cry, you don't want to cry by yourself," they observed.

Theaters were hit hard during the pandemic and were among the last to reopen.

Many hoped this theater that opened in 1932 could survive but it's another sign that the Berkeley they once knew has changed. 

"I kind of think Berkeley is kind of going through the transformation of an eccentric sort of funky place that it was to this upscale sort of valley of doom with all these sludge-gray -- with all these multi-story apartment buildings going up," Fredrickson groused.

There was a proposal to turn the theater building into a 17-story, mixed-use apartment building.

The only thing that's expected to remain is the Regal façade.

Cineworld has not responded to a KPIX request for comment.

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