The Water Cooler – The Best Movie Theater

July 11, 2014 12:00 pm · 93 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it! The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

In your opinion, what is the best movie theater in Claycord, and why do you think it’s the best?

Talk about it….

Scoob July 11, 2014 at 12:14 PM

I like Brenden best, PHill second. Parking is awful in WC and pretty bad in PHill. I like to catch a movie then grab some dinner in Todos Santos. I could do without the scumbag homeless cranksters breaking into cars at the Brenden parking garage, but that seems to have gotten better lately. Even though I’m a WC resident I prefer my old stomping grounds for shopping, eating and entertainment. Going to see Planet of the Apes this afternoon!

Concord Man July 11, 2014 at 12:19 PM

my family room

Concordejet July 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

None they are all the same old expensive theater.

RealityCheck July 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

The Contra Costa Cinema in Martinez.
Smaller, more cozy feel than the Century and Brenden; loads of parking; less crowded. Just a little more old-fashioned, I guess. And the employees are not like those screeching idiots at Concord Brendan, where they yell at you the second you step inside to ask if you want buy some food and drink. (Granted, that is probably the management’s fault, not the employee, but still…)

The Mamba July 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

I haven’t been to the movies in so long, I’ll go with Pleasant Hill Century Cinema for proximity, beyond that they all seem the same.

Mr. John July 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Danville IMAX for special effect blockbusters – closest true IMAX not in SF.

Other than that – Brenden. They do so much to support the community, I feel just fine handing them back my $ for a movie. If I get free tickets to Brenden, I always buy at least $20 in snacks, even if I have to give them away. Good people there.

tennis king July 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Walnut Creek is my favorite. Plenty of parking in surrounding lots. A lot of food choices before and after movie. Theatres are in good shape expecially the upgraded seating that you pay for. Always clean. Hate Brendan these days. Very ghetto, dirty, unsafe area. Theatre always smells like old feet.

dilligafman July 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

My t.v. room, Big screen-d.v.d. player-650 watt surround sound system. IT ROCKS!

anon July 11, 2014 at 12:46 PM


Martinez Family July 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

#1 Brenden Theatres – always get great service there. Employees have helped my family several times above and beyond. Best prices by far Adults are $8.75 I think. I do see Security in the garage often when we go. It’s older and worn in places but it is our first choice.
#2 Martinez Theatres – like the smaller feel. Good service too.

leo July 11, 2014 at 12:50 PM

The Showcase Theater, Todo Santos

That's All Folks! July 11, 2014 at 12:57 PM

None of ’em, they all stink.

Antler July 11, 2014 at 1:09 PM

“It depends” is such a woos answer, but that’s the best I can do on this one. Brenden, PH, or WC …….but only during matinee hours, so my friends and I do choose according to the show time of the film and according to whether we want to eat nearby for breakfast …or for lunch.

Do we want to shop afterward without re-parking? Well, then the answer HAS to be Walnut Creek first, PH second, and Concord NOT. (That vacant space on Todos Santos Plaza at the corner of Salvio and Mt. Diablo streets will go to a co-op handcraft/art/or other sort of really nice gift store, I keep hoping.). If Brenden offered guarded valet parking, that might be just the ticket to an increase in their ticket sales.

Also, to avoid having our free Concord garages used for “park and ride” lots, how about banning parking before 9:30a with heavy fines for thick-skulled violators. For antagonistic nerds, too, come to think about it! 😉

I feel most safe in the PH parking garage.

Cuzzzzzzz............ July 11, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Contra Costa in Martinez as far as the Claycord area goes……….

Also love the old Rheem and Orinda theatres for a nastalgic feel

But for a fun funky feel either the Rialto in El Cerrito or the New Parkway in Oakland. Neither are the typical multiplex – thank God

h July 11, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that at Brenden Concord you have to butter your own popcorn?! For that reason alone we go to Pleasant Hill Century. The way I see it, if im paying an arm and leg to watch a movie my “golden” bucket of popcorn should come buttered, but instead I waste 5 minutes of my life and half of my popcorn on the floor trying to do it myself. wtf

SAR July 11, 2014 at 1:29 PM

The Contra Costa Cinema in Martinez!!!

It’s like I have it to myself… ya’ll keep cramming your selves into those other theaters.

anon July 11, 2014 at 1:29 PM

None. They are all the same no matter where you go.
I want the Pleansant Hill Dome back! That was a great place to see a movie.

Pyrrhus July 11, 2014 at 1:47 PM

I really like Martinez because it’s less crowded and just feels like a nice old time theater. Next to that is Brenden due to the prices. Now, if I want to watch IMAX it’s off to Dublin for the only real IMAX experience outside of SF. Don’t be fooled by other places that claim they are IMAX, they are smaller screens.

The Pleasant Hill Dome July 11, 2014 at 1:48 PM

I still go there and sit on the floor next to the Jockstraps and watch movies on my IPad.

Larry PH Guy July 11, 2014 at 1:48 PM

We like the Brenden best. Been going there for years and always felt safe. And they do so much for the community as I have seen them donate to many local groups. I have been to all the others and Brenden has the best service by far. I wish they would play more art movies…

Winston July 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I like the Brenden Concord. The location is nice, it’s less of a hassle than WC and the price is right.

KateC July 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Brenden – prices are less expensive and if you log onto you can get a coupon for a free medium popcorn. Can’t beat that! But I don’t take the grandkids there after dark because of the unfortunately individuals you run into out on the sidewalk.

Marissa July 11, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Century theaters in Pleasant Hill.

Silva July 11, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Park Theater, Lafayette, Rheem and Orinda Theaters, Grand Lake, Oakland.

Concordres July 11, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Brenden Theatres has THE best customer service out of all theatres. At Century, those kids don’t pay you any attention or conversation, and they have such high prices compared to Brenden. Brenden employees and management have always been especially friendly and concerned and always are smiling. I often see security in the garage and in the building also. Great theatre with great service.

94598 July 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Definitely WC- location is perfect, a nice stroll afterwards to round off the entertainment.

NoMoreFreeRide July 11, 2014 at 3:06 PM

The Dome!

Kevin July 11, 2014 at 3:06 PM

It would be nice if you could add a POLL to this page so we can get a census on top of everyone’s comments.

Momo July 11, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Which ever one has the time and the movie that I want to see

Greg July 11, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Most “Cinemas” these days just look like home depots with pretty lights.

Real butter vs fake? July 11, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Pleasant Hill = real
Brenden = fake?

I go for the good stuff in Pleasant Hill.

KateC July 11, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Re: Brenden. I LIKE having the option to putting on butter or not myself – maybe you want just a little bit instead of what someone else decides is enough or not enough. And the Brenden has those trays where you can divide up the bucket so everyone has their own amount. Sharing is good – and less waste that way!

Mimi (original) July 11, 2014 at 3:58 PM

NONE OF THE ABOVE!!! I like to be able to pause my movies to use the restroom, get something to eat or drink, or just plain stretch my legs. You can’t do that in a movie theatre!!

Concordejet July 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM

My tummy looks bigger because I sneak my bag of popcorn into the theater.

ConcordMike July 11, 2014 at 4:34 PM

#1 – Pleasant Hill (no traffic and plenty of parking)
#2 – Brentwood for IMAX
#3 – Solano Drive-In

Atticus Thraxx July 11, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I don’t like going to the movies anymore because there’s other people there, generally with the same manners they display everywhere else. I don’t need the stress. And the sound is too frickin loud.
Yes I’m old.

SeeK July 11, 2014 at 5:17 PM

#1. Pleasant Hill
#2. Martinez
#3. Brentwood
#4. Concord

Traffic and parking is always bad in Walnut Creek

Trigger Warning July 11, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Brenden has way too many noisy teenagers.

John Davis July 11, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Any theater showing Channing Tatum on the wide screen, yummmm!

Martinez all the way!!!!!!!!!!! July 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM

parking is the Best, kids are very nice….not crowded and definitely feel safe. Concord is the worst if you are handicapped….too far to walk, not safe at any time for vehicle or person. Smells funny and bathrooms are too far away if you have to use them in the middle of a movie. PHill is ok…if you get handicap parking right away. I refuse to go to WC for anything. Drive In is great for grandkids,

Concord resident July 11, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Our grandson always wants to go to Pleasant Hill. He likes the bulk candy he gets to choose. PH has much better concession food choices. Kettle corn (my favorite) ice cream, hot dogs, pizza. Yum!

Concord Gal July 11, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Brenden Theatres is our favorite. It is the lone bright spot in a dismal downtown Concord. I wish they build up more around it like PH. The employees always greet us when we enter and are very friendly. Like I read before I like adding my own butter to my popcorn.

Michelle July 11, 2014 at 6:14 PM

I will take the Solano drive-in any day, cannot beat the privacy.

. July 11, 2014 at 6:16 PM

AH Yes, rude people that comment all thru the movie, people texting or talking on their phone, screaming kids and a floor your feet can stick to.

Nope I’ll stay home.

Dont box me in. July 11, 2014 at 6:19 PM

Having grown up in the city, in the 60s I was lucky enough to experience the big theaters from the past. Newer box cookie cutter theatres lack the same majesty and artistic style. I would prefer to go to the drive in. Its cheaper and your not boxed in enduring people talking, cell phones, unruly kids, sticky floors OPTs ( figure it out ). For 3 D – IMax Metreon is the best.

Jim July 11, 2014 at 6:42 PM

People still go to theaters?…news to me

AldrigeFamily July 11, 2014 at 7:34 PM

Brenden, the staff is so personal, the family that owns it is very very much part of the community and it’s a great movie house.

I don't get it July 11, 2014 at 7:35 PM

this thing for Channing T. He is not attractive at all. He has beady little eyes and they are way too close together!

I don't get it July 11, 2014 at 7:36 PM

oh, wait———–a paperbag, now I get it.

AldrigeFamily July 11, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Concord Gal,

PH is a glorified strip mall with no character at all….no thanks

Professor Gas July 11, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Brenden in Concord has a mini-fridge they let me keep my leftover take-out food in during the movie, so they get my vote.

SpankyFortuna July 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

The Enean. Centrally located, the only theater in town.

mika July 11, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Brenden. Even though its not in my hometown, I appreciate their reasonable lower prices, including the $6.75 price for seniors!
And I like to butter my own popcorn. Get it my way!

The pope. July 11, 2014 at 8:24 PM

The XD screen in Walnut Creek is the best (theater 14), they have 4K projection on the largest non-IMAX screen in the East Bay.
For IMAX the Regal in San Ramon is the only true IMAX in the East Bay. The Metreon IMAX screen in SF is larger if you want to see it as big as it gets in the Bay Area.

Kelly Anne July 11, 2014 at 9:10 PM

I miss the Dome. And the bar.

@ Silva July 11, 2014 at 9:16 PM

The Park in Lafayette has been closed for years. Used to go all the time when I was kid. My best friend and I lived close by. We would stop at the Pioneer Market to get out candy and sneak it in….

apollo idol prudence July 11, 2014 at 9:17 PM

all hail towlie

Pleasant Hill Resident I July 11, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Walnut Creek’s parking is insane if you would like dinner and a movie.

Pleasant Hill is nearly as bad during that time frame.

My issue with Concord tends to be more related to negative experiences with other patrons (people playing on phones during movies and chatting – who does that?!), not so much the theater itself (I’ve experienced this in WC too, not so much in P-Hill surprisingly).

Martinez used to be our go-to place, but the remodel they did a long time ago made half of the screens super tiny and they were still charging the full ticket amount, so it didn’t seem worth it to use to continue giving them our business.

That being said, we usually just go to Pleasant Hill. It’s nearby and the parking isn’t quite as terrible as WC if we want to catch a later show.

ClayDen July 11, 2014 at 9:53 PM

We rarely go to movies, maybe once or twice a year. We usually go to WC or PH when we do go. If Brenden is the only place showing a movie we want to see, we’ll go there. I prefer to watch my Plasma TV, and we don’t watch many movies anyway. I’d rather watch some of the excellent programs on National Geographic, Nova and similar. Plus, I watch a lot of road racing (friends don’t let friends watch NASCAR) and political shows, and some stuff on HGTV. It’s more comfortable at home, the company is much better, and my feet don’t stick to the floor.

Subterfuge July 11, 2014 at 10:25 PM

I go to the Century in WC. It’s cleaner, the patrons are better behaved, fewer 3rd worlders around, and the Parking is easy enough. Plus, there are plenty of good eats and drinks in the neighborhood before or after the show.

John Davis July 11, 2014 at 10:33 PM

@ I don’t get it
to each their own
… but CT can nail my beady eye anytime!!!!

Walnut Creek Resident July 11, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Century in WC. Parking is no fun. I live by John Muir Hospital and I walk to town now. I am fed up with parking in WC. Too expensive too. Just walk and take the free shuttle. I go in the afternoons. You have to be so careful walking too. Crazy people driving.

The pope. July 11, 2014 at 11:14 PM

WC is Full of free parking, just know when you go. These perpetual whiners about parking in WC are totally unfounded. You can drink coffee and listen to ‘not so great’ homespun artists every day on locust street for nothing until 10:00 am. And watch this freak who thinks tanning his body beyond belief is a virtue. And collecting ‘Tractors’. Please

By then you will Want to leave.
At which point you can go to one of many Starbucks and find free parking for the next couple hours of your non contributing whining lives.

Abbie R. July 11, 2014 at 11:18 PM

The El Rey in Walnut Creek in 1978 to 1980….They showed “The Rocky Horror Show” every Friday Night at Midnight during those years, I only went to see it 35 times…Even when the Police showed up to quiet down the drunks in the audience that were threatening people, the Officers never seemed to smell all the Marijuana smoke or notice the audience members looking at their noses with mirrors….very funny to stand in line for an hour and watch the car wrecks as the Loco teenagers “Cruised the Creek”.

Anon, too July 12, 2014 at 6:35 AM

Brenden– there is plenty of free parking, you get to put as much or as little butter on your popcorn as you like, it’s cheaper than the other theaters in the area and they do a lot to support the community.

Antler July 12, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Do I dare go into a theater while I open-carry a small thermos full of really hot melted Kerrygold butter for my popcorn?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh…….yeah……. I dare!

(Well, it IS in that Ameripurse thing…… so not really open-carry. Just don’t mess with the little ol’ gray-headed lady, sonny! She’s packin’ REAL BUTTER!)

Dear Brenden July 12, 2014 at 10:23 AM

What are the ingredients in your butter-FLAVORED topping?

Marianne July 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

lol Antler, you’re going to have guys clambering for you with that kind of talk. 🙂

anon July 12, 2014 at 11:10 AM

@68 She can drive a person up the wall, for sure.

Sofa King July 12, 2014 at 1:32 PM

We liked the Dome. Yes it was old but it played some good Indy films that pass through quickly in the big theaters( or at all)

Anon July 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Dommies, get over it already.

Just Sayin' July 12, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Doesn’t matter. Most movies are for 12 year olds.

Just Sayin' July 12, 2014 at 4:54 PM

@Subterfuge #60: “Fewer 3rd worlders around” ? Are you a racist?

Just Sayin' July 12, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Why is movie theater sound so loud. Are teenagers hard of hearing?

Just Sayin' July 12, 2014 at 4:58 PM

The last time I saw a movie in a theater I realized how much better my picture and sound is at home.

Antler July 12, 2014 at 7:33 PM

#74 …… Yes, MANY teenagers are testing to be hard-of-hearing! It is a proven result of their listening to music turned up too loud via ear plugs, or to playing amplified instruments far too loudly, or to going to concerts and sitting too close to speaker systems. After a concert, they may make jokes with one another about how numb their eardrums are, or “DUDE! That totally fried my eardrums!” or “That f……HURT!!,” but studies show that their hearing acuity is not only being temporarily damaged…. but that the damage is permanent.

The tuner who readied grand pianos for our California Music Teacher’s Association competitions was the first one who talked with me about it. At conferences, piano tuners were reporting numbness and trouble understanding the spoken words of clients following their having tuned the piano. Some had gone to take hearing tests, and indeed there was hearing loss…..this even in some of the very young tuners. So he suggested that I caution students about the need to keep volume lower when using headsets while practicing at electronic keyboard instruments (such as Clavinovas, Electone organs, etc.).

And then there are the many elderly movie-goers who have a more naturally-occurring sort of hearing loss. Why don’t they want to wear their hearing aides? …….. dunno. Maybe someone will read this and explain to us.

Silva July 12, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Antler #76, I learned the hard way about that. Tinnitus is very annoying and it does not go away. I don’t go anywhere without a set of earplugs. It’s surprising how useful they are.

CCC in Martinez! July 12, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Totally the Contra Costa Cinemas. They have a smaller selection of movies, but always the most recent blockbuster hits. The theaters are always the perfect temperature and fairly clean compared to say Brenden 14. Also they are never really packed and have a pretty good selection at the snack bar. It’s also a lot cheaper than Brenden. Overall, if i’m going to see a movie, it’s going to be there.

If for some reason they were closed, my next choice is the Drive-Ins.

nytemuvr July 12, 2014 at 10:54 PM

@Antler #76
” Why don’t they want to wear their hearing aides? …….. dunno. Maybe someone will read this and explain to us.”
…it’s because background noise also gets amplified as does people’s voices. When you have tinnitus or just hearing loss then it sounds just like louder garble. The FDA made hearing aid companies stop marketing their hearing aides as “filtering” out background noise about 3 or 4 years ago (because they don’t).

Antler July 13, 2014 at 2:25 AM

Silva at #77….. I am so very sorry that you must hear the tinnitus torture. I am almost positive that I was at Harvest House when one of their employees was giving guidance to another customer about some sort of drops for that….might be worth a try?

Nytemuvr at #79 ….. My husband has some permanent damage to his auditory nerves….combination of shooting without earplugs from when he was young……plus being around jet engines without “earmuffs”. He has some very fine hearing aids which have 4 “situation settings” and another feature which instantaneously cuts off amplification when a certain decibel level is exceeded. Also, because I have a very soft voice, one of the settings is custom-set especially to help him hear my particular tonal frequencies. (I had to go with him for the auditory technician to place us on electronic analysis equipment so as to set those perameters… also gives emphasis to consonants.)

So various products DO exist, but they are extraordinarily expensive.

nytemuvr July 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

@Antler #80
“….extraordinarily expensive.”….is that ever the truth. Same with me at the shooting range when I was young and standing behind the giant speakers at concerts too. It was a fun time when you’re young, but makes life hard now, I just nod my head “yes” most of the time. People just assume you’re stoned and out of it often during face to face conversations, very frustrating. Thankfully email makes my life easier communicating and I have a record of what was said in the conversation. Learned over the years to deal with the tinnitus thing.

CW July 13, 2014 at 2:44 PM

We usually wind up going to a matinee at the Brendan but I love that there is still a drive-in.

Silva July 13, 2014 at 4:50 PM

#56, Oh. So sad to hear it. We went as kids too, and the $1.00 matinees through the ’70s, (’80s?). I guess the last time I was there my mom, son, & I saw “March of The Penguins”, so it has been a while. I really don’t get out enough.

Silva July 13, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Thanks people, it sounds like that Martinez theater is worth a try.

Antler July 13, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Nytemuvr at #81. ….. Yes, I respect how difficult it must be. My husband finally learned to TELL people he is hard of hearing and to ask them please not to speak more loudly, but to slow down and try to hit the consonants harder. Plus one must remember to put spare batteries safely into a shirt pocket with a button-down flap. If we are at a function and I see him easing into that fake-attentiveness expression (the one you spoke about), I try to catch his eye and touch my ear so he knows to check the setting back to auto….or to check for battery strength. The device does have a signal (which only he can hear) for low battery; but if we are in a noisy location, sometimes he can’t hear the signal.

Well, let’s all just muddle along the best we can!

Miranda July 13, 2014 at 6:49 PM

I like the Solano drive in, you could always pick up a few good movies there.

nytemuvr July 13, 2014 at 9:54 PM

@Antler #85
Nice to hear someone who truly understands. It’s like the old Rod Steward song…”wish that I knew, what I know now, when I was younger”.
Back to the theater thread…I like the comfort of home and don’t go to the movies anymore, it’ll be on some channel or DVD not long after it comes out now days and you can avoid the crowds, sticky floors and rude people. The Enean and the old Orinda Theater used to be my favorite theaters. The Pleasant Hill drive-in I liked the best for drive-ins.

RanchgirlCA July 14, 2014 at 5:35 AM

Brendan for the pricing. It’s been a while since I’ve been, but I don’t recall them having the multi-tiered confusing pricing found at Century.

ChampagneKitty July 14, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Sigh…there used to be a time when I went to the movies every week, but I had to stop that during the recession when I had to cut expenses like everyone else. My favorite was the now-demolished Monkey Dome theater in Pleasant Hill. The arthouse films they showed there were often better than the mainstream ones, plus they made the BEST popcorn.

Now, I don’t go not only because of cost–I think I could now manage a matinee every now and then–but because of mobility issues. When I go, I like the full experience, meaning visiting the concession stand. I like to have popcorn and soda with my movie. Now that I use a walker, I cannot carry those items to my seat. I can ask an employee to do it for me. I would need to sit in one of the disabled seats. I cannot hold my bladder the way I could when I was younger, so what if I need to go to the bathroom? That would be a big annoyance to have to get up and shuffle my way to the bathroom and back with my walker. I cannot zip in and out real fast, so I would miss a good part of the movie. So maybe I should consider going to the movies and not getting anything from the concession stand, which is expensive anyway.

Another thing is these days, I have trouble sitting for long periods of time. It makes my lower back hurt. This is why I haven’t been going to city council meetings or helping to run the library book sales (certainly not for a lack of caring!). At home, I can watch movies while lying on my couch. I have plenty of choices with OnDemand. It isn’t the same experience as seeing them on the big screen, but it works out better for me.

If I could, I would like to patronize the Brenden theater in downtown Concord, because Mr. Brenden donates money to the city of Concord to pay for police bike patrols for the downtown area.

Silva July 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM

ChampagneKitty, you maybe could use a souped up walker that you can put stuff in. I’ve seen a few that even double as a chair in case you want to bring a picnic to the park and watch squirrels and birds. My mom made do with the Kaiser standard issue model when she HAD to go out, and was too offended to accept any of the devices I brought home trying to make her life easier, so I didn’t get her one, but I’d seen some really useful looking ones. She did let me sew up a couple of pocket/bag thingies with Velcro attachments that were a little useful. I think my sofa/bed is the way to go now too really. And there is such a variety of movies I really don’t mind watching with Netflix.

tired of taxes July 14, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Concord Man’s family room.

Silva July 14, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Antler, #80, That’s interesting, and probably couldn’t hurt to check into. Thanks.

Adam July 23, 2014 at 11:11 AM

At this moment I am going to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming yet again to read additional news.

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