AKA: United Artists Cineplex Theater, Downtown, San Jose, CA; Camera 12 Cinema, Downtown, San Jose, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Diller + Scofidio, Architects (firm); Elizabeth Diller (architect); Paul Lewis (video installation artist); Ricardo Scofidio (architect)

Dates: constructed 1995-1996

3 stories, total floor area: 70,000 sq. ft.

201 South 2nd Street
Downtown, San Jose, CA 95113

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The United Artists' (UA) Pavilion Theatre, a 3,700-seat, eight-screen venue opened in 1996, in what was a shopping mall, the Pavilion, that went defunct after six-and-a-half years. (This Downtown San Jose mall, in turn, was built, in part, on the site of the Theatre De Luxe, later known as the California Theatre and, subsequently, the Fox Mission Theatre.) United Artists' closed the Pavilion Theatre in 2000, and the four-year-old complex remained empty for four years, before it reopened as the Camera 12 Cinemas on 06/18/2004 with 12 screens and a smaller number of seats, 2,100. It has remained financially weak but alive since 2004.

Building History

Re-using most of the failed Pavilion Mall building, the United Artists Pavilion Theatre opened on 02/01/1996. Possessing eight-screens, the United Artists Pavilion theatre also included, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, another attraction sure to draw kids to the venue: "Capping the transformation, United Artists is opening a virtual-reality arcade with high-tech games and rides this summer. Called Starport, it will fill the 30,000 square feet that used to contain stationery, gift and record shops, and a food court." Within a year, however, United Artists came to the opinion that the eight-screen theatre was commercially untenable; it abandoned the location completely by 2000. In 2003, the City of San Jose Redevelopment Authority (RDA) sought to plug a very visible hole in its downtown by working with building's owner, the Cleveland-based real estate company, Forest City, to find a tenant. In 10/14/2003, the San Jose RDA lent a local exhibitor chain, Camera Cinemas, $2.5 million to open in the vacant facility on a 15-year lease. (Private investors added another $2 million. The RDA's loan of $2.5 million was increased to $3.25 million in a new agreement signed on 05/06/2005.) Camera Cinemas, which operated the nearby Camera 3 Cinema in San Jose, Camera 7 Cinema in Campbell, and Los Gatos Cinema in Los Gatos, spent the money to expand to 12 screens but ran into financial problems with Camera 12 rapidly. Between 05/2005 and 02/2007, Camera Cinemas could not repay any money lent by the RDA; to keep Camera 12 going, the agency agreed to forego any further loan payments (worth $817,344) until 03/2015. Further financial problems occurred during the recession of 2008, when Camera Cinemas failed to pay rent to Forest City between 04/2008 and 11/2008. In 2011, the RDA brokered an agreement in which Camera Cinemas would pay Forest City $50,000 immediately, and an additional $110,000 until the lease's end in 2018. Camera Cinemas also agreed to a new monthly rent of $13,500.(See Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, "San Jose Redevelopment Agency proposes rent freeze for Camera 12 Cinemas," 03/02/2011, accessed 07/11/2016.)

During its dire fiscal crisis of 2011, the State of California passed legislation dissolving city redevelopment agencies and the state's Low and Moderate Income Housing Fund. San Jose created a Successor Housing Agency (SHA) to the RDA to protect some of its housing assets in that year. In 2015, the Successor Agency once again renegotiated its loan to Camera Cinemas amounting to$2,050,018. The SHA agreed to extend the payment period from ten to twenty years, increase the monthly rent from $2,500 to $4,000 beginning in 10/2015, "and increases by $2,000 after 24 months and thereafter increases every 24 months by $1,000 up to a maximum of $9,000." (See City of San Jose, "Memorandum of 09/21/2015, Subject: Amended and Restated Promissory Noted and Amendment to Loan Agreeement with Camera 12," accessed 07/11/2016.) In 07/2016, the Camera 12 Cinema remained in business.

Building Notes

New York architects, Diller + Scofidio with Paul Lewis, produced a video installation work, "Jump Cuts," at the theatre in 1996. The firm's web site described the piece: "Drawing inspiration from the tradition of the grand social ante-spaces like the Paris Opera, in which circulation area exceeds theater area by 5:1, Jump Cuts reframes the question, on which site of the theater wall is the spectacle? An electronic marquee at the facade of the glass lobby consists of twelve liquid crsytal panels over the street and corresponding projectors stationed before each of the panels at the interior. The projectors are fed by a string of live cameras positioned along the multiple levels of escalators in the grand lobby, either looking down in plan or across in elevation. The mechanical movement of the escalators past the stationary cameras suppplies a successions of movie patrons on parade. As moviegoers zigzag through the stacked lobbies, they are reconfigured and displayed dynamically across the facade. The continuous stream of patrons is interrupted periodically by movie trailers." (See Diller Scofidio + Renfro, "Jump Cuts," accessed 07/11/2016.) The title "Jump Cuts" makes reference to the cinematic editing technique of making jump cuts, first used extensively by Dziga Vertov (1896-1954) in his 1929 "Man with a Movie Camera." While film typically seeks to provide the viewer with a seamless sensation of time's forward flow and the continuity of cause and effect by depicting a subject from a single camera, a director making jump cuts photographs the same subject from multiple viewpoints, disrupting the apparently smooth flow of time forward. Jump cuts introduce doubt about the sequence in which time moves.

Capping the transformation, United Artists is opening a virtual-reality arcade with high-tech games and rides this summer. Called Starport, it will fill the 30,000 square feet that used to contain stationery, gift and record shops, and a food court.

PCAD id: 3747