Century theaters

Century Theatres

Century Theatres was a movie theater chain which operated many multiplexes in the western United States; primarily in California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. In recent years, they have expanded into the inter-mountain states, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and parts of the Midwest. Founded in 1941, the chain was headquartered in San Rafael, California until it was acquired by Cinemark Theaters from Plano, Texas in 2006.


Originally, the Century Theater chain was named Syufy Enterprises, after its founder Raymond Syufy (senior). Syufy built his first theater in Vallejo, CA in 1941, however the first Century theater was the Century 21 in San Jose, California, which opened in 1963 adjacent to the Winchester Mystery House. According to popular belief, the naming was a tactic used to convey a "futuristic image". This image was bolstered further by the lobby's distinct "bubbled lights" and metallic gold accents. The large orange metal ornament on the top of the domed-theater was functional in addition to being decorative--theater employees rappelled from it when the dome's outer track-lighting needed to be maintained. The first film presented at the Century 21 was It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The company was originally known as Syufy Enterprises, but the company started using the name "Century Theatres" in the early 1990s.

Century Theatres has a long history of litigation against its much larger competitor, AMC Theatres, for alleged anti-competitive behavior. However, since the late-1990s, both sides have generally refrained from suing each other.

On August 8, 2006, Texas-based chain Cinemark Theatres announced that it had completed a purchase agreement under which Century Theatres will be acquired with a combination of cash and stock from Cinemark's parent company. The transition to Cinemark was completed on Thursday, October 5, 2006, with the exception of the Century 21, 22, and 23 theatres in San Jose, which were transferred back to their original company, Syufy Enterprises, and operate under the name "Winchester Theatres". The company's drive-in theatres and swap-meets were also not part of the merger and reverted back to Syufy Enterprises ownership, as well. They now operate under the brand-name "West Wind Drive-Ins and Public Markets".


Most theaters now serve Starbucks iced coffee as well as Nathan's Famous Hotdogs. The concessions area of each century will typically sell a large selection of candy, pretzel bites, nachos, pizza, popcorn, Kettle Corn, ICEEs, sodas, ice cream treats and water. The cafe section of concessions sells cakes, Starbucks coffees, teas, cookies and other treats.

Recently, Century Theaters has been criticized for their conflict of interest policy regarding management dating the lower ranking staff members. No formal complaints have been filed. However, there is a legality issue on whether or not a 25 year old manager can date a 16 year old employee.

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