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Regarding my cover story on San Diego's Ten Best Movie Theatres, Ken Harrison writes:

"OMG! How could writer Scott Marks miss Encinitas’s iconic La Paloma Theatre in his top ten picks of local theaters? His number one pick, Reading Cinemas Gaslamp #1, bestows the glamor of a re-created “stylish touch of ’20s art deco.” Opened in 1928, the La Paloma has its original art deco decor.

The projectionist is probably the last guy in town that can still switch a film reel at its cue from one projector to another without anyone in the audience missing a frame or line of dialogue. And with a large screen sitting atop a real wooden stage, no other movie house comes close to 'maintaining the magic of the movies.'"

I have visited the La Paloma Theatre but once in my life for a 35mm revival of Big Wednesday. While it is a lovely venue, I find it hard to recommend a movie theatre that barely shows movies. The only film they screen with any regularity is The Rocky Horror Picture Show (on DVD) at midnight on the weekends. I just checked their website and they are currently showing the documentary Marley, so maybe there is a chance that they are one again showing films on a regular basis. Their site has been bookmarked and I will report back if they are indeed operating as a second-run art house.

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Dave Kealoha writes:

I’m just wondering how you guys could’ve possible missed the Cinepolis at Del Mar Highlands as one of the ten best movie theaters in San Diego?

It’s an awesome experience! They serve you food and alcohol there. There’s only a few seats for each theater — you can totally lay back and watch the movie. It’s the most awesome movie experience I’ve been to in my whole life. That you guys didn’t mention it is crazy.

Cinepolis didn't make the cut for the exact reasons you heap praise on it. I visited Cinepolis once and never want to repeat the experience of noisy waitresses delivering over-priced bar food and busboys clearing tables in mid-movie.

As for booze, I have always been a firm believer that cinema and public intoxication don't mix. Given the theatre's living room environment, I'd much rather pop open a Blatz, toss a frozen DiGiorno in the oven, and watch a movie in my home theatre.

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Comments

dannybaldwin May 25, 2012 @ 3:12 p.m.

La Paloma also doesn't have scope, and the sound is mono and atrocious. The building may be historic -- the presentation sure ain't.

(They do, however, screen movies every night of the week. And "Rocky Horror" at least used to be off a print, albeit a scratched one.)

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Scott Marks May 26, 2012 @ 8:53 a.m.

A friend went and saw RH about 6 months or so ago and told me it was a DVD. And I forgot about the 'Scope issue when I saw "IG WEDNESD."

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monaghan May 25, 2012 @ 3:35 p.m.

Scott, La Paloma is definitely still in business, but it is depressing to go to a mostly-empty movie theater, which that is most nights, and your misinformation isn't going to help. Maybe you should get out more.

As for Cineopolis or however it's spelled, thanks for the thumbs-down. I feel sorry for all the folks living in North County who have no regular movie theaters anymore.

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Scott Marks May 26, 2012 @ 8:55 a.m.

Get out more? I'm generally at a movie 5 nights a week. And theatres that can't show 'Scope will NEVER get my endorsement.

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Leslie Venolia May 26, 2012 @ 3:58 p.m.

The La Paloma screens movies every night of the week unless there's live music or a poetry slam. Many surf movies are screened as well. It's often the only place in North County to see an "art house" film, and it's often very full on weekend nights. Long live the La Paloma!

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Ken Harrison May 31, 2012 @ 9:07 a.m.

Scott, just face it. You made a mistake. We've all done it. La Paloma runs movies 7 nights a week. Rarely does it have live events. And can one really review a movie house having only attended once a long time ago? The good thing is your article has people talking about films and how they are shown, something most of us don't think about when we see the latest blockbuster at our local multi-plex. Keep informing us.

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alargent May 31, 2012 @ 2:35 p.m.

Where do you people get your information? La Paloma is open nearly 365 days a year, i can count on two hands the number of times we've been dark in twenty years, we routinely fill the house with specialty, live shows and premiere screenings, we do project scope although the lenses are old and crappy and the 2:35 aspect ratio is cropped to 1:85 (flat) in order to fit the proscenium stage, that's the compromise we accept having a theatre with a stage. our sound is not mono and has improved immensely over the years it is Dolby SR running through a Sony SDDS processor with plans to upgrade to a Dolby CP650 as the budget permits, we just spent $50,000- on a digital cinema projector as the studios are rapidly moving away from film, sometimes i can't even get a 35mm print... we are faced with unprecedented challenges year in and year out, running La Paloma is like trying to restore an antique automobile while commuting to Los Angeles on a daily basis. i am fully aware of our shortcomings and i have no problem with not making "the list" i just get upset when i read miss information, perhaps that's why i typically don't put much credence in the critics opinions. Oh yea Rocky Horror is a 35mm print and is in very good condition compared to the prints you will find in most other cities presentations.

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dannybaldwin June 1, 2012 @ 8:15 p.m.

I apologize for saying it was mono, Mr. Largent -- I was just expressing how it sounded to me the last time through Projector 1, garbled and borderline unlistenable. It was a bad use of hyperbole on my part -- I didn't think there was a single theater in the country that actually ran mono, and I assumed (perhaps stupidly) that others knew that too.

The main reason I do not to the LaP every week is the cropping issue for 'Scope. With the new digital projector, are you showing 2.35 movies with "black bars" on the top and bottom to eliminate cropping? If so, why not book everything DCP? What type of digital projector did you buy?

Also: Any chance of repertory shows in the DCP format?

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M. E. May 31, 2012 @ 2:45 p.m.

Despite his inability to throw in a paragraph break, "alargent" is right.

"I find it hard to recommend a movie theatre that barely shows movies" is wrong.

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Scott Marks May 31, 2012 @ 3:29 p.m.

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I apologize for my misinformation, but something tells me if I don't know about a single-screen theatre in the area that operates on a daily basis, not many others outside of Encinitas do either. Expect a visit and an update this summer. I might even bring young Mr. Baldwin with me.

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dannybaldwin June 1, 2012 @ 8:16 p.m.

Only if it's Flat. (Unless the new digital projector is configured to play 'Scope shows with a "letterboxed"-type effect. Hopefully Mr. Largent responds above.)

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Jay Allen Sanford May 31, 2012 @ 5:19 p.m.

Much about the La Paloma to love, though I can see how the limitations forced by the aged building might keep it off a Top Ten list based on modern presentation. But it's certainly top FIVE among my personal faves, if only for the thirty-plus years of memories I have of attending. That was a flippin' four hour bus ride starting from OB in 1979, and yet I still managed to make the trek every few weeks for years. And then there's the historic concerts that've taken place there, including a terrific Spirit live album - Viva La Paloma!

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Jay Allen Sanford May 31, 2012 @ 5:21 p.m.

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Setup drawing from an Overheard in San Diego comic -

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Ken Harrison May 31, 2012 @ 5:47 p.m.

Everyone should make a trip to the La Paloma Theatre at some point. The fact that it has survived all these years is the reason lovers of film should support this single screen, independently owned theater.

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figbash June 4, 2012 @ 12:04 a.m.

La Paloma is a gem. And how arrogant to assume that since you don't have the knowledge no one outside the 760 does either. When I mention LP elsewhere I seldom have to explain it's specs; it is well-known. The Rocky print is one of the most intact, least damaged films still in regular use. Even more impressive is that it has been in constant weekly use for years, a true testament to the art and preservation of this dying medium. In recent years there have been many live shows including The Peter Pupping Band, George Winston, Switchfoot, and Sara and Sean Watkins of Nicklecreek. There are regular viewings of surf and skate films, beat poetry and up-and-coming bands exposing new generations to the history of this building while staying relevant to the times. If you want to see a CGI-laden movie you will shell out the big bucks for IMAX or 3D, but if you want a sincere movie-going experience La Paloma is one of a very few. When Flower Hill closed last June and Del Mar and La Costa were being remodeled there were NO other movie houses between La Jolla and Oceanside. For those of us in between it was awesome to have a reprieve from the hipster refresh button spreading through North County, including downtown Encinitas. Sure, the building has limitations and damages due to aging but it's also a nice change of pace from the tear-it-down and rebuild mentality that we've come to expect. If you were one of the fortunate masses (very full houses, especially during awards season) to have seen The Artist at La Paloma then there wouldn't be an explanation necessary. To see a silent film where hundreds had played before was an amazing experience. It was a chance to slow down and feel like you were back in time. Instead of looking for it's faults and lack of status you can take a minute and breathe in and enjoy the beauty that is the ceiling, original 1928 tile and art-deco accents. No, it isn't mainstream; they carry movies that fly under the radar and attract fans of the obscure. I'm proud to be a part of that club, aspect ratio be damned.

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