Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Now Playing at the Fashion Valley 4

While doing some on-line research for images to include in this year’s Jaws Month posts, I stumbled across this Jaws newspaper ad from 1975, and couldn’t believe what I found displayed within the ad:

If you look at the bottom left side of the box, you’ll see that Jaws was playing at just two area theaters: the Fashion Valley 4 and the Alvarado Drive-In, both located in San Diego, California. But what makes that fact so cool is, the Fashion Valley 4 is where I saw the movie for the very first time, as a 12-year-old back in the summer of 1975!

Which means that I probably saw this same ad when the film was released, either in the San Diego Union or the Evening Tribune (or perhaps in our local paper, the Times-Advocate). There was no date attached to the image, but since the ad shows that Jaws was ‘starting today’, we can assume the date was June 20, 1975. But a quick IMDb check tells me that the neighboring movies in the ad—Mandingo and The Land That Time Forgot—were released weeks later, in late July and early August. So what gives?

Strange, too, that Jaws only opened in two downtown-area theaters (and the drive-in was actually a short drive west of downtown, in La Mesa). Now it makes sense why my parents took my brother and I to see it there, at the Fashion Valley Mall, which was about a 30-40 minute drive from where we lived in Rancho Bernardo, instead of somewhere closer to home: apparently, there was nowhere else to see it. And why did a summer blockbuster film like Jaws open at a shopping mall’s tiny four-plex, instead of one of the many large single-screen venues scattered throughout San Diego, like the Cinema 21, the Loma, the Cinerama, the Cinema Grossmont, or the Valley Circle? I guess for the same mysterious reason Return of the Jedi didn’t open at any of those big-screen theaters, either.

For me, a fun find…although it’s too bad I didn’t cut out and save this ad for myself forty years ago, as well as for the screenings I also saw with my dad at The Vineyard in Escondido and with my friend Brent at the Poway Playhouse in Poway. They would’ve made for nice keepsakes, and may have offered an answer as to when this ad originally appeared in the paper. If I can get back to San Diego sometime and check out some old newspapers on library microfilm, I’ll let you know what I find.


8 comments on “Now Playing at the Fashion Valley 4

  1. So you found this online? And you’re assuming it’s an accurate representation of what was published in the paper at the time? Escondido would not have run such an opener in ’75 would they? And who is Quint and why would anyone name someone that?!?

    • Todd B

      Yes, I found it on-line, and I can tell it’s valid because of the theater logos and names (unless someone went to the trouble to create a great Photoshop fake!). And Escondido only had a few small theaters at the time (mostly single screen, but the Vineyard and Plaza were twin screens), so I doubt Jaws would’ve opened there.

      And who is Quint, you ask? A million Jaws fans just collectively groaned…he’s the guy in the movie played by Robert Shaw, who owns the Orca and helps hunt the shark! And Quint is his last name (I assume)…first name unknown.

  2. Dracula

    Was there really a cinema with 21 screens back in 75?

    • Todd B

      Perhaps somewhere, but the one I’m talking about was down in Mission Valley, and was a big single-screen theater called the Cinema 21. There were other Cinema 21’s around the US, and I remember reading once what the ’21’ meant, but now I don’t remember what is was. I liked that theater…that’s where you, Bob, Reid and I went to see The Boys from Brazil back in ’78.

      • Dracula

        Funny you mention The Boys from Brazil. Watched that the other night on TCM and thought I had never seen it before.

      • Todd B

        I barely remember that night at the Cinema 21…the only time I ever saw a movie there with any of you three, I believe. And I think that’s been the only time I’ve seen the movie, so I wouldn’t recognize much from it, either. I probably remember more from the SCTV skit!

  3. I love these old ads from newspapers and when you can say you were actually one of the showings, all the better to recall. Jaws is icing on the cake.

    • Todd B

      I love finding old newspapers and checking out the movie section (my friend and I did that recently with some old Pittsburgh papers of his)…especially when I know the city, and recognize many of the bygone theaters. I’ll have to do some digging through my boxes and see if I can find any. I know I’ve cut out the newspaper ads for many films I’ve seen over the years…maybe I should start posting those on the site, like you do.

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