812 Cannery Row,
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Architects: Alan Weber
Firms: Dream Enterprises, Ltd.
Styles: Art Nouveau
812 Cinema was founded by John Harris, Alan Weber and Dennis Roshay in October 1969. Legally opened in June of 1970. Closed in 1980 due to landlord dispute and a fire on Cannery Row.
The theater, located at 812 Cannery Row also coincided with owner John Harris' favorite film, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ which was his inspiration for filmmaking and in turn creating the 812 Cinema.
“812” became famous. It had pillow seating, dual interlock 35mm 3-D, four track magnetic stereo sound, carbon arc lamphouses and superior projection techniques. Surrounded by comfort and heavily padded flooring..the theater became most famous for it’s presentation of “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. That film had a combined run of 17 years between 812 Cinema and its sister theater, Dream Theater.
The Dream Theatre was literally built from this tiny theater.
Alan Weber designed both theaters with serious input from John and his love of movie theaters of the past. John toured with the Johnny Mathis Show as a singer, dancer, choreographer and vocal arranger. On that tour, the Mathis Show performed in many old movie palaces. It inspired John to create in his mind the “dream” theaters he would later produce.
The Dream Theater was built in 1974, opened in 1975 and closed and demolished in 2000. The 812 & Dream were built with the community in mind and spirit. These were special creations, hand built by artisans and creative genius.
Gone but not forgotten.
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Recent comments (view all 5 comments)
Oh wow! Thanks for posting this John. I had heard the legends of the 812 but never thought I’d see the interior. In this age of “living Room Cinema” (since couches are cheaper than installing theater seats) the 812 was truly ahead of its time. I spent a summer working at the Dream (I thought itd be longer but after “Jungle Book” closed I was let go, devastating to a 16 year old LOL)so I can only imagine the funky fabulousness of the 812 interior.
What an amazing place. I was stationed at the Presidio between ‘76 and '77. We always looked forward to driving down the hill to Cannery Row and watching a movie at the 812. Laying on the carpeted floor with lots of pillows…. who would imagine building a theater like that today? Too bad!! I loved the place! Doug
DougieD: I thought I was the only one who remembered lounging on the cushions at the 812. My assignment at the Presidio was in 1971, but I seem to recall that at that time the screen was a sheet attached to the wall. Funky can be a good thing.
I was stationed in CA.in the Army in 1971-72 and took a leave to Monterey. Discovered the 812 and saw a double feature – FREAKS and THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN an “all midget western” from 1933. I still have the handbill I picked up on the night of 2/19/72.
We were back at DLI in ‘72 for german, will always remember being high as a kite, munching on granola and enjoying “The Music Lovers” at the 812