Studio Theatre

396 S. First Street,
San Jose, CA 95113

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Showing 23 comments

DavidZornig on May 14, 2020 at 10:09 am

1965 photo added courtesy Bob Emerson.

GaryParks on March 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks.

JohnMessick on March 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Gary..Really like your drawing of the interior of the Studio. I bet at one time it was a great looking movie theater.

GaryParks on March 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I have never seen a single photo of the interior. The one time I went to a movie there in the early 90s, I asked if I could take pictures and was not granted permission (with today’s tiny digital cameras, I wouldn’t have bothered asking, just snapped away). So, Plan B. I had my sketchbook, and did a drawing on the spot before and after the movie. I’ve posted it under the Photos section on this Studio page. It is as accurate a representation I could do in the time allowed. I have a lot of experience drawing buildings, so you can count on this as a faithful representation of the essential look of the auditorium. Check it out!

JohnMessick on March 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Any interior pictures of the Studio?

GaryParks on March 23, 2012 at 9:35 am

A couple of weeks ago I popped by again. Not to appear to contradict my friend Terry, but the lobby itself is still there, with its streamlined ceiling coves. What HAS been gutted out is the little “sunken” lounge behind where the concession counter was, which led to the restrooms.

jon62 on March 23, 2012 at 8:10 am

I remember going here to see TO SIR WITH LOVE… great movie, then once I went in there by mistake and fell in love Throurghly Modern Millie… fond memories… now it’s a ghost theater….

terrywade on September 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Just went into the Studio theatre a few days ago and they have torn out the old lobby walls. Will they wreck the nice front glass boxoffice also and front neon sign? What will the new name be ‘Studio Rocks Downtown’. In the old days people went outside to climb rocks for free, now you have to go indside and pay.

GaryParks on September 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

On site observation by me this morning: I was allowed to briefly step into the former auditorium. I can confirm firsthand that the auditorium has been completely gutted to the bare concrete and open beam steel ceiling joists. An extensive new steel armature for the rock climbing wall structure now twists and turns throughout the space, and is admittedly quite impressive. At present, the original wall surfaces and ceiling coves of the lobby and the passages leading to the former auditorium are intact. Original ornamental plaster leaves still are extant in the passages, but once in the auditorium, all trace of theatrical use is completely gone. The exterior at present remains completely unchanged from its days as WET, save for the removal of the club’s name from the former reader-board spaces on the marquee.

GaryParks on April 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Word reached me today via someone who owns a business nearby that Club WET is finis. Apparently an indoor rock climbing facility is taking the space. Supposedly the building has been rezoned so that it cannot be a nightclub again.

LBorg on February 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm

To see this theatre lately in local news due to WET would make my uncle roll !.

My uncle was Lawrence Borg. He built this theatre around 1950. The theatre was run by The Borg Family Trust until approximatly 1990, when the family decided to sell it, for fear of Earthquake damage/retrofit/lawsuit.
I almost was able to lease the theatre from the trust in 1988 when I was interested in opening a nightclub, but decided not to, but I wish I would have just reopened as an art theatre.

I am glad that this forum on Cinema Treasures has kept the spirit and soul of my uncle alive. He was a vibrant person, who loved His family, the movies, traveling, animals, and life…..

Thanks so much

GaryParks on October 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

Club WET must have cleaned up its act considerably. Their advertising budget certainly has expanded. In addition to lots of print advertising, they now have a photographic billboard ad atop a building in San Francisco (!), fully visible as you approach the Bay Bridge, going Eastbound. Meanwhile, another alteration has occurred to the historic Studio facade. The marquee has been painted completely black, and the magenta neon has been removed and replaced with blue neon.

TLSLOEWS on May 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Very nice vertical.

sweitzel on September 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

The Studio Theater became Club Wet around January 2009 – the latest in a string of nightclub businesses to inhabit the theater since the late 1990’s. Club Wet has had its business license revoked on September 23rd 2009 after a long series of incidents of violence and public drunkenness over the course of the summer. No word as to when or if the club will reopen.

kpdennis on April 25, 2009 at 2:54 pm

The Studio, looking for a buyer in 1997:
View link

GaryParks on April 26, 2006 at 10:44 am

Not sure about other names for the Studio in Sacramento, but I do know that its facade is preserved, along with the facade of the Esquire to its left, as the front of the big IMAX theatre which replaced the Esquire (which had previously spent some years with a remodeled interior as an office building.

FoxFan on January 2, 2005 at 10:15 am

I saw HOW THE WEST WAS WON at the Studio Theatre on my 10th Birthday! What a wonderful experience on the big screen with its beautiful curtains. A few years later – when downtown San Jose fell to hell – the studio became pornographic – Adult X Rated Movies competing with the GAY across the street. The FOX had already closed its doors and the UNITED ARTIST was 100% Mexican Movies.
Later on – in 1975 – Paul Catalana (previous owner of the MAYFAIR
took over the lease on THE STUDIO. He ran 3 Features and changed
weekly. Admission was only $1.00 or less and the place tried
to compete with the other very successful JOSE THEATRE around the corner on 2nd Street which was very very successful with a grind policy @ 50 Cents Before 6pm and $1 After 6pm. With poor management,
the STUDIO became a haven for drug dealers and gang activities. In fact, someone set seats on fire in the balcony on a Friday night
causing the house to shut down early that night.

rp2813 on December 21, 2004 at 9:51 am

I can’t resist the urge to comment on Mr. Parks' mention of Quetzalcoatl. He is correct about a small and noisy group similar to the one protesting the sale of the Studio also protesting the Fallon Statue. Of course, this group’s complaints were baseless but the San Jose City Council was comprised of too many patronizing wimps who not only didn’t put the Fallon Statue where it truly belonged, but took things a step further and dropped a nice big pile of you-know-what there instead to appease this group. Maybe the council thought it would be an exellent way of having the complaining come back to bite this group by replacing the supposedly repulsive Captain Fallon with something even more repulsive, as if to say, “OK, are you happy now?” Mr. Parks, if you have any leverage at all, can you drop the hint to the powers that be that this pile that has been dropped in downtown San Jose needs to be re-located to the Mexican Heritage Plaza where it would supposedly be more appreciated? It turns my stomach every time I drive up Market Street and see this pile so prominently displayed in the park. For a city that has a serious complex about its image, this is hardly the kind of public “art” to display in such a prominent location.

GaryParks on November 20, 2004 at 2:25 pm

A comment in response to rp2813. Actually in an earlier posting I did complain about the removal of the original tilework around the entrance, followed by a description of the acidic green tile (albeit high end) which has replaced it. This was around the time that this website was going through some remodeling, and my posting about the tile vanished into the ether. Indeed, some members of the Preservation Action Council of San Jose, to which I belong, wrote letters of protest about the impending removal of the original tile—to no avail.

Regarding the whole hailstorm of criticism from the Hispanic community in the early 90s when the Studio was to have been “taken away from them” for use as a performing arts facility…I remember it well. A lot of this was part of a keen sensitivity which had developed locally in that community following the creation of a statue of Thomas Fallon, first American Mayor of San Jose—a man not particularly regarded fondly in Hispanic circles—which was to have been erected Downtown. That statue languishes in storage, and later, instead perhaps, we got “graced” by the infamous coiled serpentine Quetzalcoatl statue, whose resemblance to a familiar substance is very evident upon viewing. It’s not only sad aesthetically, but a violation of separation of Church and State, as city funds went into it, and Quetzalcoatl is still considered a “viable” deity in some admittedly small circles. Government should be in the business of Representation, not Appeasement.

Anyway, in getting back to things theatrical, I agree with the above poster that successive nightclub uses do seem to gradually erode the features of converted theatres.

rp2813 on September 22, 2004 at 9:31 am

I respect Mr. Parks' inside knowledge around the various downtown theatres but must disagree with his statement that the exterior of the Studio remains in its original condition. This is not true. The chiffon yellow tile cladding at street level has been replaced with a less refined modern tile in a deep green color. Part of this refacing process also resulted in the elimination of the small shop space on the corner of the building, or at least street access to it. When Tom McEnery was mayor and the Studio was showing Spanish language films, he proposed that the city buy the building and use it as a performance venue for some of the local theatre companies. It would have been a bargain. A very small but vocal group from the Hispanic community complained loudly that they were being trampled on, even though this theatre was not receiving the support from their community that was required to stay viable and in business. Fearing the racial backlash that this group sincerely promised, McEnery backed off and the result is that the theatre subsequently went vacant due to lack of patronage. Now it’s been subjected to the same treatment as the old Gay/Pussycat theatre across the street, going through various dance club incarnations that will continue to eat away at its original features. The city needs to again pursue the purchase of this theatre to prevent further destruction and to provide yet another much needed venue for live and film presentations. I don’t think you’ll get anybody complaining about losing “their” theatre this time around.

GaryParks on March 26, 2004 at 12:59 pm

A little update: The Studio now houses a nightclub called “glo.” The signage on the former reader boards has changed, but otherwise the exterior remains in its original condition, with marquee and vertical sign neon still lighting up every night the club is running, just as you see in my 1990 photo above. During the recent interior renovation I peeked into the auditorium, and though the murals are long gone, the cast plaster ornament on the ceilings and on either side of the proscenuium is intact, though repainted.

scottfavareille on April 29, 2002 at 1:16 pm

This theater did show porn in 1973-1974, then was showing second-run product prior to being a Spanish language theater.