A Century Theatre multiplex seen at night
Type subsidiary Industry movie theaters Founded 1941 Headquarters San Rafael, California Key people Raymond W. Syufy, founder Parent Cinemark Theatres Website www.centurytheatres.com
Century Theatres is a movie theater chain which operates many multiplexes in the western United States, primarily in California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. In recent years, it has expanded into the inter-mountain states, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and parts of the Midwest. Founded in 1941, the chain was headquartered in San Rafael, California until it was acquired by Cinemark Theaters from Plano, Texas in 2006.
The Century Theater chain was originally named Syufy Enterprises, after its founder Raymond Syufy (senior), who built his first theater in Vallejo, CA in 1941. The first Century theater was the Century 21 in San Jose, California, which opened in 1963, adjacent to the Winchester Mystery House. The Century 21 theater was built to showcase Cinerama type movies (the left and right empty projection booths are still present), but in actuality, it only showed 70mm movies. The screen was later replaced with a flat model, and has remained intact as a wonderful throwback to the domed Cinerama palaces of the 1960s. The "Century 21" name was a tactic used to convey to the viewing public a "futuristic image". This image is bolstered by the lobby's distinct modern "bubbled lights" and metallic gold accents. The large orange metal ornament on the top of the domed-theater was functional in addition to being decorative—theater employees rappelled from it when the dome's outer track-lighting needed to be maintained. The first film presented at the Century 21 was It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in 70mm format.
The company started using the name "Century Theatres" in the early 1990s.
Century Theatres has a long history of litigation against its much larger competitor, AMC Theatres, for alleged anti-competitive behavior. However, since the late 1990s, both sides have generally refrained from suing each other.
On August 8, 2006, Texas-based chain Cinemark Theatres announced that it had completed a purchase agreement under which Century Theatres would be acquired with a combination of cash and stock from Cinemark's parent company and Front Row Joe. The transition to Cinemark was completed on Thursday, October 5, 2006, with the exception of the Century 21, 22, and 23 theatres in San Jose, which were transferred back to their original company, Syufy Enterprises, and operate under the name "Winchester Theatres". The company's drive-in theatres and swap meets were also not part of the merger and reverted back to Syufy Enterprises ownership, as well. They now operate under the brand-name "West Wind Drive-Ins and Public Markets".
Most Century theaters now serve Starbucks iced coffee as well as Nathan's Famous Hotdogs. The concessions area of each Century will typically sell a large selection of candy, pretzel bites, nachos, pizza, popcorn, kettle corn, ICEEs, sodas, ice cream treats and water. Since the summerI of 2010, they are mostly equipped with Coca-Cola Freestyle. The cafe section of concessions sells cakes, Starbucks coffees, teas, cookies and other treats.
In 2009 Cinemark introduced "XD" or Extreme Digital Cinema, the company's response to IMAX. Extreme Digital allows Cinemark to play any movie they want on it, unlike IMAX which needs special formatting. Because of this, Cinemark can play a different movie on their XD auditoriums whenever they want, where IMAX usually plays the same movie for weeks. There are currently 25 Century and Cinemark Theaters equipped with XD. The technology employs a larger screen, up to 38' x 70', with additional improvements in audio and digital projection. The projector can project either 2D or 3D from digital cinema sources.
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