The Century 21 Theater opened to the public on 1 October 1967 with the movie "Point Blank," a psychological thriller staring Lee Marvin.
The movie theater cost about $750,000 and was built by Century 21 Corporation, a syndicate of local and California investors. Bettilyon Construction Company was the general contractor and Vincent G. Raney was the architect.
The Century 21 Corporation was apparently affiliated with Syufy Enterprises of San Francisco, which had built six similar theaters in the western United States.
Business and theater leaders attended a preview showing of the movie "Water Hole No. 3" at the Century 21 on 30 September 1967. Present at the screening were Raymond Syufy, president of Syufy Enterprise; Jack Haig, his assistant; Vincent G. Raney, architect for the firm; and Michael Piliaris, manager of the Century 21 Theater.
Century 21 was located on the east end of the Prudential Federal Savings Plaza at 3300 South and 200 East. The parking area on the north and west of the theater accommodated- nearly 1,000 cars.
Century 21 was unique because of its circular design and dome-shaped roof. The dome rose 60 feet and was made of 148-foot-long arches. Subcontractor for the roof was Taylor Roof Structures of San Francisco.
The lobby occupied a quarter of the diameter of the building and was located beneath the theater's stadium seating and projection booth. The snack bar and rest rooms were recessed in the shorter, inner side of the lobby. The outer wall of the lobby was made of windows and glass doors. A covered walkway outside lead to the ticket windows on the east end.
While the theater was being built, David K. Edwards, spokesman for the Century 21 Corporation of Utah, said that "drinks will not be allowed in the main auditorium."
The layout of the auditorium had approximately half the circle used for seating, while the screen occupied a quarter, and remaining quarter was split between exits on either side of the screen.
Century 21 used a seating arrangement, called continental in style, which allowed for "free access to all seats without seated patrons being disturbed." Each of the theater's 985 de luxe, rocking seats had an unobstructed view of the large screen. There were no center aisles and the curved rows were spaced 48 inches apart.
A newspaper article written while the roof was being put up said that Century 21 would have a "80-foot long and 40-foot high curved screen for Cinerama productions." Another article said, "all processes will be shown on the screen, which will be 80 feet by 45 feet." Although the theater may have been equipped for the single-projector Cinerama process, it is unlikely that the Century 21 ever showed any Cinerama films.
The theater had a "multiple sound system" that "wraps the sound around the audience."
The auditorium was decorated with gold-colored drapes to enhance the acoustics. Some rows of seats were silver-gray, while others were purple.
In 1969, a duplicate building, Century 22, was built across the street from the original.
On 1 March1972, the auditorium of Century 22 was in half to form the Century 23.
The Century 21 building was later divided to form three screens and the auditoriums were named Century 21 through Century 25. The concession stand in the Century 21 building was moved against the outer wall of the lobby so an entrance and stairway could be created into the stadium seating area of the center theater. The center theater was the largest of the three, with over 500 seats. It had a curved screen with curtains that moved onto the side walls while the movie played. Although the theater was equipped for 70mm Dolby Stereo presentations, most 70mm films played in the Century 24 auditorium across the street. The two smaller theaters had about 300 seats each and were equipped only with mono sound systems. The screens were curved, but did not have curtains.
In 1990, between April and October, four small square theaters were added onto the Century 22 building.
In 1998, Century Theatres demolished the old Prudential Federal Savings and Loan building and began construction on a new 16-screen multiplex. During the Century 21 Theater's last months of operation, the right-hand theater was closed and unused because of a leaky roof. In August 1998, both of the original domed theaters were demolished so the area could be used as parking for the new Century 16. The only thing to remain from the Century 21 is a row of tall trees along the 200 East sidewalk.
1. "New S.L. Theater Going Up", Deseret News , 01 August 1967
2. "New S.L. Theater Opens", Deseret News , 01 October 1967
3. "Roof Going On 'Round Theater Job", Salt Lake Tribune , 02 August 1967 , Page B10