I lucked out, movie wise, moving to Berkeley CA in '64 at age 7, coming from a valley town with a population less than a thousand which had only a seasonal drive-in.
My parents, liking movies themselves as well as (perhaps) figuring it was cheaper dropping us off at a theater rather than opting for a babysitter gave me and my siblings endless opportunities to see flicks as well as the occasional film, and Berkeley and the surrounding area was a grand place to view them back when.
There were 6 or 7 theaters within strolling range, and often enough we would stroll out of one double feature across the avenue and enter another.
The United Artists, California, and UC theaters were monster sized (to me), as well as the Oaks, which I recall as having the best loge seating, though not meant for the likes of me. Other than the UC, which always seemed pretty utilitarian, most of the other theaters were memorable for the look of the theater almost as much as for the movies.
I like the convienience of viewing movies at home now, but miss the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of other people experiencing a new release and taking part in the communal reaction toward something hilarious or shocking.
Oakland had its own monster palaces, and I personally would have preferred that they'd restored the FOX rather than the Paramount. Going to the Grand Lake and heading to the far reaches of the upper balcony seemed like it took forever, it seemed to go on so far. The last time I went to the Grand Lake (after it was chopped up) I went to see The Wizard Of Oz, and shopuld have inquired first, as the screen I saw it on seemed about as large as my living room wall, but at least I got the 2 for 1 bonus of listening to the movie next door leeching though the wall.
I purchased my very first cup of coffee at a Berkeley theater that exclusively aired films rather than flicks, offering coffee and tea instead of soda, and nothing as distracting or self indulgent as popcorn (as I recall). The also had cheap folding seats. No laughter or any other emotion that I can recall from the 'live' audience for a movie I can't. I started out feeling almost grown and sophisticated for choosing this spot, before descending into wretched boredom with the subtitled dreg, lamenting that I hadn't opted for something more lively, and toughing out my sentence because I'd spent my money and was determined to receive what I'd payed for. I may as well have been hanging out with zombies. It didn't become my favorite haunt.
Looking a bit longwinded here, the all night movie houses and drive in theaters next?