Comments from Matias Antonio Bombal

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Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about Orinda Theatre on Feb 27, 2024 at 7:58 am

I will be teaming up with the Orinda to show Hollywood Studio Classic matinees, the last Tuesday of each month, starting TODAY, February 27th at 1p.m. $10.00 all seats: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

March 26 1 p.m. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)

April 30 1 p.m. SAN FRANCISCO (1936)

May 28 1 p.m. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)

June 25 1 p.m. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942)

July 30 1 p.m. THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) The Matias Bombal’s Hollywood Orinda Classic Movie Matinees

Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about UA Arden Fair 6 on Oct 27, 2019 at 6:43 pm

CLOSING TONIGHT, October 27, 2019. Farewell to #Sacramento’s United Artists Arden Fair 6, operated by Regal Cinemas. Regal will remove its assets and likely the space will be converted for retail. With big screen media moving to home streaming services, more and more multiplex theatres will be closing in the coming years. Regal will be migrating the staff and employees that care to stay on to other regional theatres, including the Natomas and Delta Shores locations. The building’s signage was the last vestige remaining of the once powerful and pioneering movie industry company United Artists, which made movies and ran theatres, founded by Douglas Fairbanks, Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford and David Wark Griffith. United Artists also owned and operated the beloved Sacramento movie place, thr Alhambra, from 1947-1972.

Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about Alhambra Theatre on Sep 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm

We ask for your memories, photos and ephemera, a tease of things to come in our documentary now in production, Alhambra: Sacramento’s Palace of Fantasy. PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO! Thanks. Contact us at:

AlhambraTheatre #documentary #MoviePalace #TheatreOrgan #SavetheAlhambra

Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about Encore Theatre on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

The photo is from 1996. The leasee was going to have me manage a renovation project but he ran out of money. We were going to rename the theatre Pantages, and were funding the project by running a restaurant “Cafe Hollywood” in the lobby.

Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about Esquire Theatre on Dec 14, 2011 at 2:07 am

I can not remember the date, but I know first hand that the marquee letters spelling out the theatres age on the reader board were “borrowed” from the Sacramento Tower Theatre. I know, because I put them on the Esquire marquee.

Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about Tower Theatre by Angelika on Apr 12, 2004 at 9:18 pm

The Sacramento Tower Theatre Opened on Noveber 11, 1938, not 1940. The program was “Freshman Year” and “Algiers”, a sub run and a “B” picture. The Manager at the opening and for 1 year was Charlie Holtz.
-Matias Bombal

Matias Antonio Bombal
Matias Antonio Bombal commented about Sacramento's Tower Theatre at Risk? on Apr 5, 2004 at 8:24 am


This was sent to the Editor of the Sacramento News and Review.

Matias Bombal

Tom Walsh, Editor
Sacramento News and Review

I was very upset by the cover of the News and Review depicting, through some excellent Photoshop work, the center marquee panel of the Sacramento Tower Theatre with letters reading “Closing Credits”. Because the SN&R is widely visible throughout the community it clearly proved the “perception is reality” concept for those who might not have a chance to read the lengthy article inside the paper. I have heard from several people, who did not read the article, that they saw on the cover of the SN&R that the Tower Theatre was closing. The article itself, demonstrating a concern for the impact on the business of the Tower Theatre by potential development of new multiplex theatres in 2 locations on K St. served to make readers aware that there may be, in future, a serious impact on the historic Tower theatre. The intention of the article was well placed, but the cover has apparently created just the opposite effect, placing a visual in the mind of many that the Tower Theatre is in the process of closing at this very moment. Yes, one then should read the article, but those who have seen the cover, and parroted the cover picture, without so much as even reading the subtitle at the bottom of the cover, have done irreparable damage in furthering a misconception in our city.

Having been an exhibitor of movies for a majority of my adult life, working at both the Tower and Crest Theatres, and more recently in Lincoln City, Oregon, operating a single screen theatre for 7 years, The Bijou, which ran both first run blockbusters and art/independent films, I have a very clear idea of the impact that a multiplex with similar films can have on an independent exhibitor. It was only a matter of 3 years after starting with the small theatre that Regal, a large chain, built a brand new multiplex within a mile of my single screen. The impact affected the theatre in very specific ways that might not readily be apparent to the average moviegoer or preservation minded individual. I might add that The Bijou is still operating successfully in Lincoln City, in spite of the huge Regal Cinemas chain at its doorway. If anyone would like me to illustrate these points in detail, I encourage them to reach me via email:

Within the article I was further maddened by the revival of the misconception that Safeway Stores tore down the Alhambra Theatre. Yes, there is a Safeway where the Alhambra once stood, but no one ever mentions the more reprehensible aspect of its loss: That the blow was not delivered by Safeway, but by the people of Sacramento. Safeway Stores, upon hearing the tremendous public outcry of its potential destruction, offered the building and property back to the City of Sacramento for exactly what they paid for it. A special bond measure election was held to raise money to buy the property, and Sacramentans, likely not interested in additional taxes at that time, voted against it. With no acceptance by the City or any private party to buy the Alhambra, Safeway proceeded with their development.

In 1946 there were 26 theatres in downtown Sacramento within the central city core. In those days a theatre meant one screen, and arguably in a more esthetic setting than todayâ€\s multiplexes. Todayâ€\s movie distributors care only about the bottom line and often will give booking preference only with exhibitors that have the most number of “screens”. If you are an independent with three screens, as is the Crest, and your competition is part of a chain of 2,500 screens nationwide, of which 6-14 are in a building across the street from you, vying for the same title, you, the independent, will not get the title you want. End of story. There is no competition, and certainly not from what one could perceive as the individual building, or multiplex situated across the street from you, or in the same demographic movie market. The Tower has the slight advantage over the Crest in that they are part of a large chain, Reading Entertainment, with much greater buying/bidding power for film attractions.

Currently, in looking at the SN& Râ€\s film times page one can see 11 screens on K Street alone, in just three theatres, and that the SN&R film times page considers the Tower Theatre to be “downtown” although it is a Land Park landmark. It would have been considered in 1946 a “nabe” (a neighborhood theatre), and not part of the first run houses along K, J and L streets then. The Tower opened on November 11, 1938 with Algiers with Charles Boyer and Freshman Year with starlet Dixie Dunbar- sub-run films that had already been downtown or were considered “B” films when new.

The Tower Theatreâ€\s eventual development as an art house in the early 1980â€\s following the closing of Landmarkâ€\s beloved Showcase Theatre, demolished, on L St, across from Macyâ€\s, and the J St. Cinema, was in the days before cable/video/DVD. The Tower certainly became a treasured part of our city, nurtured by the Landmark Theatres at the peak of its art house days, and with sensational management that was indeed a part of the fabric of the community. Reading Entertainment took over in 1998, following Landmarkâ€\s departure, saving the Tower from becoming just a memory, or equally depressing, a dark theatre.

That having been said, I get the feeling, having been a past theatre manager, (I do not know this to be a fact) that the company running the Tower may be non-supportive to the local management who likely is helpless to make any improvement without corporate OK which, controlled from so far away, may not have a real sense of the intrinsic value that the Tower has in our Sacramento history and current entertainment. Additionally, this possible lack of Readingâ€\s support for the theatreâ€\s local manager is likely what is behind the current poor screen presentation and insufficient maintenance of the building. In spite of this handicap, it seems the current manager has done everything possible with the limitations of his office, and little touches here and there show a respect for the historical integrity of the building and also an appreciation for its esthetic value. The manager of the Tower, like many chain theatre mangers, is probably not able to actively involve the community, control advertising, or make any improvement or maintenance that would cause any expenditure over bare bones operation. These elements alone are more of a danger to the Towerâ€\s continued success than the added effect of alleged local competition and worse, the corporate buying power that a bigger chain will have nationwide. It is my opinion that Reading Entertainment initially acquired the Tower solely to boost the number of screens the have across the U.S. to increasing their bidding power for film titles.

I believe that there is a great public misconception that at every theatre one goes to, the manager of that particular theatre or multiplex is responsible directly for the selection of the films shown and the overall operation of the policies of the theatre under his or her control. This is just not true. Only the Crest Theatre in Sacramento is under the personal direction of its manager/business owner. An office somewhere else controls every other screen in town.

No matter what exhibition chain makes the move, assisted by the City of Sacramento or not, with the eventual arrival of additional screens downtown, and it is not a matter of if, but when, the independent Crest and the operators of the Tower must become even more aggressive in their community involvement. There must be a return to showmanship. They must find energetic and creative bookings in films, their promotion and look for alternative means to keep the doors open. The Crest has done this effectively for several years. Had they not, even while I still had the pleasure of being involved there myself, moved to becoming a rental hall for live events, and filling with movies when live events were not present, it would not still be open today. That theatre cannot, nor could it ever survive on film income alone. In the case of the Crest, films have not been the “bread and butter” of its operation as suggested by the author of the SN&R article.

These theatres must, in addition to promoting the individual films as an attraction, must highlight that the experience of going to the Tower or Crest, cannot be had anywhere else. They must work on every aspect pleasing the patron while attending the theatre, with the often touted, yet seldom realized concept of customer service. The great movie palace showman of the 1920â€\s, Marcus Loew, summed up the concept ideally: “We sell tickets to theatres, not movies"

Although these days Iâ€\m found behind a microphone at a local radio station and not in a theatre lobby of recent, my passion has been the historic preservation of movie theatres, and I have spent a great deal of energy, love, blood and sweat to make the dream of the classic theatre of the golden age be an experience people of our time could still reach out and participate in. I, as well as many others, long for the preservation of our historic theatres. In my experience, the only way to insure the permanence of those places that we love is to give them your constant support. You must go as often as possible. Since an ever growing chunk of your ticket price goes right back to the filmâ€\s distributors, be sure to spend as much as you can at the refreshment stand, for this is the funding source that pays for the theatreâ€\s entire operation budget.

While I felt that SN&R article was well intentioned, I found it sensational and manipulative of public opinion. The cover was irresponsible, and potentially damaging to the business of the Tower Theatre in that it looked real enough to appear as if the letters spelling out “Closing Credits” were actually on the marquee.

Big movie chain art house business is coming. Your best way to keep those places, that you believe in and wish to support, alive, making them part of the present and not a memory of the past, is to personally take action by showing your support in the form of going to the movies. While you are at it, take a friend…and get the BIG popcorn.


Matías A. Bombal