Scott Burnham, who owns the 48-year-old theater, explained that he has
been reluctant to rent the space out for events since the Port's closure.
But the O'Neill movie was one he felt was right for the theater and the
"It's good, clean fun," Burnham said. "It's not going to offend anybody.
It's the type of film that our community, being a beach community, can
Burnham was hesitant to speculate on whether the screening might lead to
more events like it at the Port.
"I wouldn't say that it's going to be the beginning," Burnham said. "This
just happened to be a circumstance where all the circumstances were
The theater closed last August after the Landmark Theatre Corp. decided
not to renew its lease on the space.
At some point in the future, Burnham said, he hopes to use the space in a
way that will "integrate a theater into the overall scheme," but his
specific plans are undecided.
"Since its closure, it's been in constant discussion with a number of
different situations," Burnham said.
"The Experience," the first movie O'Neill has produced in five years,
features some of O'Neill's most famous surfers, including Shane Beschen,
Cory Lopez, Rochelle Ballard and Laguna Beach surf/skate crossover guru
The large-scale premiere is unusual in the surf movie business, where
many films are released directly to video.
Joey Santley, spokesman for O'Neill, explained that the company hoped the
big-screen experience of the theatrical premiere would give the film the
punch usually lacking from the straight-to-video experience.
"We want people to get a big impact," he said.
The Port, in particular, seemed to be a good choice for the debut because
it was the site of many screenings in the old days of surf movies.
"I saw [the classic '70s surf film] 'Five Summer Stories' there," Santley
said. "To me, the cultural and historical aspect of that theater are
Santley said he hoped the premiere would recreate some of the manic
enthusiasm that once attended surf movie screenings.
"I can't wait to see 13-year-old kids breaking in the back doors and
stuff," Santley said. "Twenty years ago, I was that kid."