Valley Centers Inc took an unoccupied field in an unincorporated section of Salt Lake County and built an enclosed, air-conditioned regional shopping mall costing over $20 million. Valley Fair Mall opened on 27 July 1970, with 112 stores covering 565,000 square feet. Anchor tenants were J. C. Penny and ZCMI.[1,2,3,6]
Robert H. Lippert opened the Valley Fair 4 Cinemas on 13 August 1970 with ceremonies attended by civic and theater officials from the Salt Lake City, Granger, and Hunter areas. He also hosted a dinner party for 400 theater and advertising personnel. The theater complex opened to the public the next day, with the first-run film “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” starring Sidney Poiteir, Walt Disney's “Sleeping Beauty”, and “Two Mules For Sister Sara.” Lippert operated a chain of about 120 film houses, based from San Francisco.[2,3] The original name intended for the theater was Showcase Cinema.
The Valley Fair 4 was the first four-screen theater complex in the Salt Lake area. A Deseret News article described the theaters as “a unique new motion picture operation of four theaters” and stressed that the “four theaters are in one building.” The Salt Lake Tribune explained, “A movie fan who walks into the lobby of the Valley Fair 4 Cinemas will have four choices as to what motion picture he wants to see.” Lippert said “his four-house idea allows him to show four entirely different motion pictures at one time. “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” showed on two screens, another new concept. The opening day advertisement pointed out that the film began each hour on the hour, alternating between Cinema I and Cinema II.
The four auditoriums were “intimate in format,” each with a “color design of its own” and a seating capacity of 250 to 300. They shared a “beautifully appointed main lobby” and a single projectionist.[2,3] The entrance to the theater complex was outdoors, along the walkway leading to the southeast entrance of the mall. The two west auditoriums have exits leading directly into the mall.
On 28 July 1978, the Valley Fair 4 held a “Grand Opening” as part of the Consolidated Theatres chain. The theater later became part of Starship Theaters, which abruptly stopped advertising in the newspapers on 13 March 1985, a possible sign of bankruptcy. The Valley Fair 4 began advertising again on 16 March 1985, but without identifying a theater chain. The first advertisement identifying the Valley Fair 4 as a Cinemark theater appeared on 12 September 1986.
Winmar Company Inc. began a $11 million renovation of Valley Fair Mall on 24 March 1986. Improvements included a new facade, tile, landscaping, skylights, clustered benches, and changes in the center court. Original plans for the theater called for the addition of six auditoriums, but only five made it into the final design. The Valley Fair 4 became the Valley Fair Movies 9 during the first half of August 1986. The expanded theater complex was later credited with bringing 75,000 to 80,000 customers to the mall every month. Cafe Fair, a 12-restaurant food court with 475 seats opened in November 1986.[4,5,6,7,8]
During the remodel, the original theater entrance became an exit. The concessions stand was moved from the center of the original lobby to the southwest corner. A hallway on the north connects to the addition, which includes five smaller auditoriums, a second set of restrooms, a new lobby and concessions stand, and the Jumpers Arcade. The new entrance to the theater is on the south side of the Cafe Fair food court.
With the expansion, the Valley Fair Movies 9 became the theater with the largest number of movie screens in the Salt Lake area. Most multiplexes at the time had one or two auditoriums equipped for stereo sound, while the remainder only featured single-channel sound. The Valley Fair 9 was the first to have stereo sound in all auditoriums, and that was as dollar theater while the others were first-run.
Theater 2 was equipped for digital projection and 3D in March 2011. The satellite concession stand in the original lobby was walled over by April 2011.
1. "Granger Mall Surmounts All, Will Open July 27", Deseret News, 30 May 1970
2. "New Theater, Nice New", Deseret News, 14 August 1970
3. "Valley Fair Cinema: Choice of Four Films", Salt Lake Tribune, 14 August 1970, page 16A
4. "Renovation starting at Valley Fair mall", Deseret News, 26 March 1986, page B7
5. "12-Restaurant Food Court Opens at Valley Fair Mall", Deseret News, 25 November 1986, page B5
6. "Valley Fair Mall Marks 27th Birthday in Big Way", Deseret News, 18 July 1987, page B11
7. "Valley Fair Mall Targets Values of Middle America", Deseret News, 20 August 1989, page M2
9. Back Lobby Photos