The mountain prepares to bid farewell to Blue Jay Cinema

May 26, 2023 | Front Page, Trending

Blue Jay Cinema (Photo by Mary-Justine Lanyon)

By Julianne Homokay – Special to The Alpine Mountaineer

The word is out: the corporation that purchased the building housing Blue Jay Cinema, 5th Street Development, LLC, has refused to renew the Cinema’s lease.

Christy Fajardo of Fox 11 News, among journalists from other outlets, reported on the possibility of the Cinema’s closing back at the end of April. Since then, the Cinema has confirmed that they will definitely be shuttering via a statement on their website ( “The rumors are true, we have lost our lease!… we close permanently at the end of Memorial Day weekend.”

5th Street Development also has refused to allow the Cinema any type of transition period, according to the website: “We were hoping to at least remain open through part of summer to serve up the big blockbusters to the community and vacationers and say a proper goodbye,” as well as recoup some of their operating expenses.  “We’re sorry to say, we weren’t given that option.”

The community has responded to this news in variety of ways. One commenter via Facebook said, “I support the property owners’ rights to use it as they see fit.” Another stated, “Movie theaters are a dying business just like malls. I used to go all the time but now I watch everything from home. Time to move on.”

But these two commenters seem to be outliers. The general manager of the Cinema, Wrex Mock, started a petition on with the help of a cinema patron to save the theater. The petition, “Save Blue Jay Cinema,” had almost 6,200 signatures by last Saturday, up from 5,396 as of the Fox 11 report.

Community members showed up at a recent meeting of the school board trustees to express their dismay (The Alpine Mountaineer, May 12, 2023). Dozens of commenters on Facebook expressed disappointment to outright grief over the closing of the Cinema.

As summed up by Katy Curtis via email [edited for length]: “I feel very disappointed about the closure of the Blue Jay Cinema. The cinema was a family friendly and all-age welcoming venue. Where does that leave the tourism our small towns thrive on? Why would families want to move here with limited family activities? Not to mention, the small town charm the cinema held. There were regulars and staff knew them. Staff were enthusiastic about their own favorite movies and would dress up and add little touches to show their support and make the movie-going experience even more fun. You don’t have that down the hill in the city.”

In terms of what will happen to the Cinema building, the petition states that the developers “plan to open a discount grocery store outlet” in the space, but this idea is speculation at this point. Mock said that this plan seems likely based on “leaked word-of-mouth from different sources I found credible.”

The Alpine Mountaineer was unable to confirm or deny the discount grocery plan.  Calls to Chris Peto, the agent listed on 5th Street Development’s incorporation documents, went unreturned. The Alpine Mountaineer visited the company’s office in Del Mar, and questions were met with “No comment. No comment. I have absolutely no comment” by a gentleman who refused to identify himself.

Is the Cinema planning to move to another location on the mountain? Mock replied, “I don’t think that’s an alternative at this point.” As reported in The Alpine Mountaineer dated October 7, 2021, the current structure was built specifically as a movie theater complex by Bruce Sanborn of SoCal Cinemas in 1988.

Would it be possible to adapt another building to suit a movie theater’s needs? “I do not believe so,” replied Mock. “It’s all about ceiling height, and I have yet to find a building” that would be suitable.  Mock emphasized that movie theaters are built with raked floors in addition to the extra ceiling height to maximize the view no matter where in the theater a patron is sitting. Another building without these characteristics “would be a serious downgrade” in the viewer’s experience, as screen size and acoustics would also be affected.

In response to the rumor that 5th Street Development plans to open a discount grocery in the Cinema’s space, many community members have already expressed their objection or even outrage over the possibility, via the school board meeting and various social media.

Mock seemed more concerned over the new owners’ lack of transparency: “I’m just really hopeful that there will be more communication and less secrecy about what’s going on there.”


  1. Patrice Mock

    Thank you for this supportive article.

  2. MtnPete

    This is a real loss to the Mountain Community.

  3. M Pritchett

    Very sad to see the theater go. It was one of the few places to find entertainment on our beautiful mountain.


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