CUPERTINO'S Art Cohen says that the newly renovated Oaks Theater—now called the BlueLight Cinemas 5—has its name for two reasons. One is the connotation of the "blue light special"—the red-hot bargain advertised with a revolving police light. The second is that he hopes to put people in mind of high-tech visuals: Blu-Ray, let's say. From the sound system to the screens to the carpets, this Cupertino multiplex has been redone. And it's still in the same prime spot right off Stevens Creek Boulevard, almost across the street from one of the best film schools in the state, De Anza College. The BlueLight is seeking to lure everyone from students to seniors to families to come back to movie theaters. Every ticket is $3.75. The films may be second-run, but they're often first-rate; currently, one of my finalists for Top 10 of 2009, The Informant!, is showing as well as the cult hit Paranormal Activity and the much praised (if not by me) Where the Wild Things Are.
"We saw an opportunity," says Cohen. Cohen was formerly in the consumer electronics business; after selling his company he made a move into exhibition, together with a silent partner who formerly ran film theaters in Santa Cruz. "The Oaks has been closed about seven years, and it needed a little renovation," Cohen explains. "We think it's up to par to a first-run theater. The only thing that's discount about it is the price to get in. A family of four goes to a first-run theater: tickets are $10.75, times that by four, and then add up concessions: it's like $60–$70 bucks for one night out. If you come to the BlueLight Cinemas, you'll actually have some money for food that's as good as any other places, nachos, popcorn, Icees, and so forth."
To get the word out, the BlueLight Cinemas 5 is trying promotions and social networking. One gambit is a 10am–noon "Noon Year's Eve" screening of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for families with very young children, complete with afternoon new year celebration for those won't be staying up late enough to say good riddance to a bad decade. Later in the evening is a separate program, a 9pm New Year's Eve toast with sparkling cider to celebrate the Times Square ringing-in. Cohen notes that the Internet is essential to getting the word out about the BlueLight. "We'll be checking Twitter and Facebook every day. I'll shoot out a special—say, on Twitter the code word is 'ice cream,' and if you say it, you get two-for-one ice cream." The BlueLight's management hope that if this venue works out they'll be expanding it to other Bay Area locations. It would be welcome; there's nothing worse that sitting and doing mental mathematics during the slow part of the show, trying to add up how much the whole thing cost.
BLUELIGHT CINEMAS 5 CUPERTINO OAKS, 21275 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. Call 408.255.2552, go to bluelightcinemas.com for schedules or Twitter.com/BlueLightCinema.