Mystery Eric theatres
posted by Michael Zoldessy on June 12, 2013 at 7:45 am
Go to Flickr and help identify some 1960s or 1970s photos of 5 “mystery” theaters of Philadelphia based Sameric Corp. Please add a comment to this post if you know the identify of any of these theaters!
UPDATE 6/17: Thanks to everyone for all your help identifying these theatres. They are as follows:
Theatre 1 is the Eric Concordville when it was a single screen.
theater 3 looks like the Eric Frazer when it was single screen.
I believe that theatre 3 is the Eric Reading which was located on the 5th Street Hiway (Rt.222)just a few miles north of the city. It was at the end of a row of stores on the left end with parking going around the left side just like in this picture. It stood next to an A&P market which was to it’s right on a slight angle. It was one of those red brick colonial A&Ps. You can see some of the side brick wall of the A&P in the photo.
Theater 4 might be the secondary building of the Eric Pennsauken, with the “Eric II” sign and what looks like elevated roads in the background.
Theatre 2 has been identified as the Eric Pilgrim Gardens which I then added as a page at this website. I’ve been thinking Theatre 1 could be the Eric Concordville so appreciate the comment. Thanks, Richard as to Eric Reading. Might you or anybody have a street address so we can properly add it to this website? Would appreciate more thoughts including Theatre 4. As to Theatre 5, and the exteriors, these & other Eric theaters appear to have been designed by the same architects & are hard to distinguish one from another!
I added Mystery Theatre 1 photos as Eric Concordville though it disturbs me that the Eric sign isn’t in exact same place as the later Cinematour photos. But, unless someone has a better match…..
Number 5 is the Eric II theatre in Pennsauken, NJ. It was an addition to the Eric I theatre. I recognize Route 73 in the background.
Can you add picture 4 to the REG United Artists Pennsauken listing?
Thanks, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/3432added Mystery Theater 4 to that Pennsauken page.
Howard: You are correct about Pilgram Gardens… who could forget the exit doors BELOW the screen. Saw Damnation Alley in Sound 360 here (a failed attempt at recreating sensurround). The theater also had 70MM capability (Starman, Raiders, among others) and, for its time, was a well run house.
For the Concordville: if memory serves, the Eric sign was lowered when they added to the complex to go to 4-screens. They also added a flat sign to the front of the complex, as you can see in the Cinema Tour pages.
The only thing I noticed about the “Concordville” pix is that they must have raised the parking lot: in the 4-plex shot the stairs have vanished. Maybe due to changes mandated for handicap access?
theater 5 is definitely NOT the Mark I; that theater was narrower and had a distinct slope to the screen. Theater 5 could be any single screen (pre-twin) Eric: Tri-State Mall, Concordville, etc.
I know Theatre 5 isn’t the Eric Mark One because I was there. It is not the Concordville or others I’ve added here because there’s “series” numbers on the back & it doesn’t jive with any of the photos we have. Please add your Pilgrim Gardens recollection to that theater’s page.
Theatre 5 has to be the Eric II in Pennsauken. That theatre was built in 1971, to complement the bigger theatre which was next door in a separate building. Though it was called Eric Twin Pennsauken, the theatres weren’t exact twins, they were separate buildings. Eric I was the bigger one, with 1500 seats, and Eric II was the smaller one, with 900 seats. When the bigger theatre was cut into two, Eric II was renamed Eric I, and the old Eric I was renamed Eric II & III, with one narrow auditorium created from the twinning, and the bigger auditorium having 1100 seats. Around 1983, two more auditoriums were built, and a new central lobby connected the two existing buildings.
Plaza King of Prussia? Chestnut Hill? Maybe the Frazer (I was never there when it was a single theater)…
Tim, thanks for the info, which I will incorporate into that theater’s Intro. Theatre 5 isn’t likely Pennsauken, though. Eric II Pennsauken is 38785. Theatre 5 is 39130. If Theatre 5 was the Pennsauken, then like all the other photo series, the 1st 3 numbers for Theatre 5 would be 387. These auditoriums all seem to have looked so alike…..
The old Plaza Theatre in King of Prussia wasn’t acquired by Sameric until 1980.
I believe that Theatre 5 is Eric in Harrisburg PA. The different seats at the rear of the auditorium were the deluxe ‘rocking chair’ section. Opened in April 1963 with Lawrence of Arabia the Harrisburg Eric was built for 70MM reserved seat operations.
Later twinned in 1978 (called Eric I and II) and re-opened with Superman with Christopher Reeve. Whereupon the landlord padlocked the theatre claiming he was entitled to twice the rent since it had been twinned. Sameric went to court and needless to say the Landlord lost that lawsuit.
Richard Wolfe is correct that Theatre 3 is Eric in Reading PA. Opened in July 1970 with “Beneath The Planet of the Apes” Bob Salto was the manager.
FYI – the Eric in Allentown had 70MM capability as well.
Not bad! All but one photo positively identified! 22 photos of 13 different Eric theaters were acquired by from someone who had received them in 1980 from Sameric Corporation (originally there would have been many more at Sameric) 5 exterior photos of the Sam Eric (Boyd), Eric Mark One (a rendering), Eric Rittenhouse, Eric Wynnewood, and Eric King have no numbers on the backs. 3 photographs (30592, 3, and 4) have been identified as Eric Concordville (Delaware County, PA). 4 photos (31622, 3, 4, 5) have been identified as Eric Pilgrim Gardens (also Delco) 2 exterior photos (32893, 4) appear to be Eric Lawrenceville, NJ 3 photos (32629, 31, 35) have been identified as Eric Allentown 2 exterior photos (36378, 83) have been identified as Eric Reading (which will soon be added to this website) One exterior photo (38785) has been identified as Eric II Pennsauken, NJ One auditorium photo (39130) there are suggestions, but no corroboration yet One exterior photo (40323) appears to be Eric Feasterville (Bucks County, PA A few more photos are on their way, so stay tuned!
I’m certain that the interior lobby photo is the Eric Twin Chestnut Hill. This was in Market Square on Stenton Avenue. I rubbed noses with the two white dog statues many times as a child. Fond memories of family dinners in the back room (with all of its old movie posters and statuettes of Laurel and Hardy) of a great restaurant called Pic-a-Deli, followed by a movie at the Eric twin which was in the center of the shopping mall that was layed out like a park. Saw almost every movie they played there. The line for “Return of the Jedi” was the longest I’ve ever seen (played on both screens). Mel Brooks’s “Dracula” was the last film I saw there on a trip home from college. Please add this theater to the registry, as it was the theater of choice for kids who grew up in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods in the 70’s and 80’s.
—A community which to this day remains in desperate need of an art house cinema!
Great historical research on theaters in the Germantown, Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill area: http://www.friendsofimmaculate.com/Germantown’s%20Theatres.htm
I looked again at these pictures and I’m fairly certain theater 2 is the Eric Twin that was on Ridge Ave in Roxborough. Looks like its a dollar store today: 7036 Ridge Ave Philadelphia Pennsylvania 19128 United States
Behind the dunkin donuts.
Picture number three is the lobby of the original Eric Pennsauken. This picture appears to have been taken in 1977 after the theatre was split into two theatres & still owned by Sameric. I was manager here from 1966 through 1977.