Iconic San Diego Theater Set to Close

Ken Cinema in Kensington will show its last film on Apr. 27

A longtime movie theater in San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood is set to close – and the cozy, iconic cinema will be missed by many.

For decades, Ken Cinema on Adams Avenue has been the city’s only single-screen theatre, showing mostly foreign and independent films.

According to Landmark Theatres, which owns the Ken, the theater will shutter its doors at the end of this month when it shows its final film on Apr. 27.

The theater’s closure will impact employees, residents and patrons who call the Ken one of the cultural epicenters of San Diego.

For the man who owns the business, Guy Hanford, the movies shown at the Ken helped him plot his life.

Hanford’s passion for films started at the historic Kensington movie house back in 1964, when, as an 8th grader, Hanford got a job cleaning up the theater.

“It was a dollar and a nickel a night – and it was fun,” Hanford recalled.

Hanford rubbed his nickels together and later started the Kensington Video Store, opening up shop right next door to the Ken – his muse for getting into the movie rental business.

“It was very instrumental in me starting to love films and see films outside of the American cinema,” he said.

But now, the historic theater that shaped Hanford’s life – and the lives of other film buffs – is shutting its doors, leaving behind sadness among both employees and patrons after more than half a century of showing unique films.

“I’m terribly heartbroken the Ken is closing down,” said fan Kyle Baudour. “It’s such an institution of Kensington and such a vital part of the community.”

Chris Principio with Landmark Threatres released this statement to NBC 7 Monday night:

“Landmark Theatres was not able to negotiate an acceptable new lease on the Ken with the landlord, even as Landmark is interested to continue to operate the theatre and make improvements by installing digital projection, which is the current industry standard...”

The theater will be missed by many San Diegans who enjoyed its cinematic offerings.

“I’ll miss it because it plays the best movies in town,” said one patron.

The Ken isn't just the last single-screen theater in the city of San Diego. Hanford calls it a supporting actor to Kensington-area businesses.

“So, when they see a movie is playing at the Ken Theater they come and discover this little jewel [Kensington] hidden right in the center of San Diego,” said Hanford.

Currently, seven employees work at the Ken. They were notified of the theater’s impending closure over the weekend.

A spokesman for Landmark said the employees will be offered a job at one of Landmark’s other theaters in San Diego.

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