FREMONT — It was never the fanciest theater, but when it came to the latest Hollywood flicks, the Cinedome 8 was all Fremont had.
Now, after more than 30 years, it is about to exit the stage, employees said.
The Cinedome 8 is scheduled to shut its doors for good Sunday, leaving the city with more than 210,000 residents but no first-run movie theater, said employees at the theater and its sister theater, the Cinedome 7 in Newark.
Cinemark, a Plano, Texas-based company that operates both theaters, along with nearby ones in Union City and Milpitas, did not return calls this week.
Without the Cinedome, Fremont residents will have to leave town for the latest Hollywood offerings. However, Fremont still has the Essanay in Niles for silent films and the NAZ8 Cinema for Bollywood movies.
"I don't understand why we can't support any theater in Fremont," said resident Joan Hansen-Aganon, after theater workers told her that the Cinedome 8 would be closing.
"I hate to take my business to some other town," she added. "I don't want to go to Union City. There's nothing wrong with Union City, but I want to stay in my own town."
The estimated 30 employees at Cinedome 8 will be offered transfers to other theaters operated by Cinemark, employees said.
Business had not declined in 2008, said one employee, who added that workers were told of the impending closure a month ago.
Fremont officials were not shocked to learn of the closure.
A few years ago, the owner of theater had discussed redeveloping the site at 39153 Farwell Drive, potentially without a new theater, said Daren Fields, the city's economic development director.
"I think Fremont can support its own cinema, but the cinema itself would need to be modern facility with first-run movies that would attract people," he said. "I'm not sure that was the case with the Cinedome 8."
Fremont tried unsuccessfully a few years ago to attract a new theater to Pacific Commons, Mayor Bob Wasserman said. About the same time, plans fell through to build a new multiplex at NewPark Mall, Newark Mayor David Smith said.
The Fremont and Newark cinedomes each are older and smaller than the theaters in Union City and Milpitas. The lease for the Cinedome 7 in Newark expires in November, an employee said.
The Cinedome 8 has been Fremont's largest movie theater since opening in the late 1970s, local movie buffs said.
Its arrival reshaped Fremont's movie theater landscape.
Shortly after it opened, the much smaller Showcase 1&2 closed its doors at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Civic Center Drive. The facility later became a nightclub.
Meanwhile, the single-screen Fox Theater at the Fremont Hub stopped showing first-run films, according to the Web site Cinema Treasures.
It ultimately closed in the mid '80s and was replaced by the GCC Fremont Hub 8 Cinemas, which went out of business in 1999.
That theater and the Center Theater in Fremont's Centerville district had been used by the NAZ, until it moved to a previous existing movie house on Paseo Padre Parkway near Walnut.
There is a proposal to reopen the Center Theater, which initially opened in 1946, to show films and provide space for fledgling nonprofit groups, but the plan is not fully funded, said Julie Gilson of the Center Theater Preservation Group.