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Mikeoaklandpark: Because Reading International is basically a real estate development company masquerading as a theatre operator. The shareholders have been pushing for redevelopment for years, to increase shareholder value. The late Mr. Cotter (the head honcho at Reading, who started City Cinemas) and his successors were resisting this, but according to news sources a certain high-profile shareholder was threatening legal action for neglect of fiduciary responsibility or some such nonsense.
The theatre was built and paid for by Rugoff but it was sitting on rented land, a situation that continued for decades.
In the last several years the owner of the land under the Cinemas passed, and his estate sold the land to City Cinemas. Now that they own the whole thing outright they are looking at redevelopment.
70mm refers to the size of the film in the projector, not the image on the screen. If the film was shot in 70 (actually 65mm) the image on the screen from a 70mm print is sharper, higher resolution than a standard 35mm image. It’s sort of like the difference between a regular DVD and Blu-Ray. A 70mm print also has a better soundtrack.
Just as I thought. General Cinema’s architect at the time was Wm. Riseman Associates of Boston and the exterior of that building seemed beyond their imagination. I think Riseman did do the interior build-out. The Levitt and LeDuc firms were probably the architects of the entire Avco development.
Yes, bidding for the films, that’s how they did it [wink, wink]. Cleveland was, in the 60s and 70s anyway, a different animal. In those days there was one guy (we’ll call him Mr. X) in town who ran a booking agency. He also ran an advertising agency and also had a local chain of theatres. He booked the films in all the theatres in town, General Cinema and Loews included, whose own booking departments booked all their other theatres in the US. His advertising agency handled all the co-op ad campaigns, except the rare instance of an exclusive at any one or two of GCC screens, then Parmatown’s manager handled the campaign. Also, as stated below, in the Cleveland market General Cinema got all the Warner, Disney and Universal pictures, Loews played all the Paramount, Columbia and MGM/UA films, but the theatres owned by Mr. X got some of all of them. He ran the whole show, as it were. Back then, if you wanted to play ball in Cleveland you played it his way or you didn’t play. Oh, I almost forgot, Mr. X was also the landlord to most of the distributors Cleveland branch offices.
In 1977 Star Wars played at Mentor, Parmatown and Randall Cinemas, along with the Fairview, Severance and Avon Lake. That was unusual that a first run Fox picture would play in Cleveland GCC’s – back then we were on the Warner/Disney/Universal track. Loews was Paramount/Columbia, I don’t remember where Fox usually played in Cleveland. Now and then we’d get a sub-run Fox, Paramount or Columbia picture if a regular booking was doing so bad it had to be pulled, and needed to throw in something on short notice.
Years later when I was working for Loews in New York I found out that Loews and Fox had a major disagreement dating back decades, I suspect the reason was long forgotten. Until they resolved their differences in the mid-2000s you would never see a Fox picture, first-run or otherwise, in any Loews theatre.
That’s what we thought, but we asked Eddie that evening how he pulled it off and he told us he had been engaged by Orion Classics to handle the theatre, arrange the Kleig light and supply enough carpet. He said he was told the road closure would be handled ‘by others’, but not who specifically. I suspected maybe Bloomingdales management got it done, but never found out for sure. At that time of the evening traffic was still heavy, and the event threw it into chaos blocks and blocks south. Now that I think about it, I remember Mayor Koch (at that time) was a BIG movie fan, he may have given the order after a conversation with the brass from Bloomingdales.
I think the last theatre in Manhattan with Todd-AO was the old Loews State, the original State, not the quad. When it closed the Todd-AO pedestals were taken to Loews 84th where they stayed behind the #3 screen until about 2006 when during a massive clean-out they were dispached to a 40 yd. dumpster sitting in the street in front of the place. I have no idea where the lamphouses, projector and sound heads ended up, but none of the Loews houses in New York had them in 90s forward. Also, for the record, Cinema I had Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 35-70s from at least the early 1980s until they went digital a few years ago, including during the 70mm run of Kurosawa’s RAN in 1985. RAN, btw, had the big splash premiere at Cinema I in conjunction with the Japan promotion that was happening simultaneously at Bloomingdales. The pre-film reception was held inside Bloomingdales and someone had enough juice with the City of New York to get Third Avenue btwn 59th & 60th closed down and have the red carpet laid from Bloomingdales main Third Ave. entrance across the street to the entrance of Cinema I. The 700 invitees sauntered casually across the street when it was getting close to show time, while a gang of cops were turning all the Third Ave. traffic off at 57th, 58th & 59th Streets. Nobody in the theatre business had that kind of influence. I never found out who did.
The original seat count of the Loew’s Astor, with the Griggs pushback seats, was 1528. After the remodeling around the end of the 20th century (I forget exactly when that happened) with the new Irwin rocking chair seats installed the count was 1440. The lease didn’t exactly prohibit dividing the auditorium, but required permission of the building owner for any alterations other than replacement of carpet, draperies, wall covering and counters/cabinetry of the concession stands. Three times times over the years Loew’s sought permission to divide the auditorium into 2, 3 and 4 cinemas, but the building owner shot them down each time. It’s one of the reasons it didn’t get its first (and only, by Loew’s) remodeling until it was about 25 years old, compared to 84th St. which had been remodeled twice by the time it was 12 years old.
A similar lease was held by RKO & Cineplex on the National across the street. When Cineplex remodeled in the late 80s they turned the two cinemas into three. When they were getting ready to re-open the landlord came around to look at the place. Apparently Cpx had not received permission to further divide the theatre, and the landlord ordered them to restore it back to two theatres, thereby delaying the re-opening by a few weeks.
Reading International’s 3rd quarter 2016 results, posted on their website 11/10/16 states, in part:
“…We also completed a refinancing on our Cinemas 1,2,3 property in Manhattan to refinance current indebtedness (including paying of a $3.0 million loan to Reading International) and to provide approximately $2.0 million in working capital to fund pre-development work. Our discussions with the owners of the neighboring 2,600 square foot property at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 60th Street are ongoing, focusing on the redevelopment of the combined property (121,000 square feet of FAR and 140,000 square feet of gross buildable area) as an entertainment and hotel property…”
So, the 54-year old Cinema I Cinema II (the original name) days are officially numbered.
Coate: Upon further research I stand corrected. The projectionist at the Mayland told me of some BIG film they played at the Brookgate interlocked on all 5 screens, I thought I recalled Jaws, but that wasn’t it. Whatever it was the volume of business was unexpected so they ran interlocked, probably unofficially, because if they were supposed to be on five screens they would have had 5 prints. Maybe Star Wars?
Loews didn’t do 70mm at the Cedar Center, they butchered the place soon after taking it over in the late 70s by dividing it in half and installing those hated game machines and tile floors in the once-beautiful lobby. As with Loews East and Loews West, both equipped with 70mm and mag stereo equipment, Herb Brown, the Loews DM at the time, wasn’t interested in 70mm and had the RCA technicians set up for only 35mm mono operation after the auditoriums were split. The original operator, National General Corp., did a lot of 70mm at what was then called the Fox Cedar Center.
Well, it’s only taken me about 11 years to correct this. I confused this shopping center with one called ‘The Westchester’ in White Plains. The Westchester Mall I was referring to was in the town of Cortlandt Manor but the address was E.Main St. Mohegan Lake NY 10547. In 1997 the closed and partially demolished mall was redeveloped and renamed ‘Cortlandt Town Center’, a big-box store paradise with Home Depot, Walmart, Pet Smart, and others. The GCC is long gone but an 11-screen UA theatre is there now. The Westchester Mall Cinema I-IV opened in 1975, and GCC’s usual initial lease was 15 years. I had never been there, but I’d seen photos of it in internal company propaganda promoting some program or another.
CT moderator: Could you please change the location to E.Main St. Mohegan Lake NY 10547? Thanks.
Someone long ago told me that this was the first commercially viable 2-screen theatre in the US. I believe it was Abe Geller, the architect, but I’m not sure.
According to Reading International 4th Quarter and Full Year 2015 results dated 5/2/16, they have received the consent of a partner to redevelop the Cinema 123 property. They are evaluating the potential to redevelop the property as a mixed use retail and residential and/or hotel property. They have also done a feasibility study and are in negotiations with the owner of the property on the corner of 3Ave/60St (at one time, possibly still occupied by Yellowfingers, Contrapunto, Arizona 206 and Chatfields restaurants), for the joint redevelopment of the two properties. They add that there are no assurances that they will be able to come to terms with the adjacent property owner.
The November 2005 Loews Theatre directory lists seat counts of the 12 auditoriums as follows:1=306; 2=94; 3=94; 4=94; 5=94; 6=307; 7=186; 8=186; 9=186; 10=406; 11=720; 12=406; Total=3079 seats.
WCPN-FM 90.3 is reporting the fire started in the concession area/main lobby and spread to one of the auditoriums. No word if it was arson or not.
According to WOIO Ch.19 news just now, the abandoned Magic Johnson Theatre is on fire, video shows smoke pouring out of the roof. No cause has been determined. The theatre has been closed for several years, and is now a free-standing building as the mall has been demolished. Some of the other abandoned anchor buildings (former Hornes, Macy*s, Sears, JCPenney) also remain, but there is no mall connecting them together.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the shopping center has been re-named The Shoppes at Parma – you may think I’m kidding but I’m not, that’s really the new name.
Well, not only is the Cinema gone, but the desperately needed sporting goods store that replaced it is gone too, along the indoor mall and the May/Kaufmann/Macy building. The local entities that have owned it since the earth cooled let it go into receivership and then it was sold. The new ownership is redeveloping it into what it was originally – a regular outdoor shopping plaza.
The city has done whatever it has to do to allow a CVS Drug Store to be built on the site of the Parma Theatre.
The Parma residents are ecstatic – after all, no CVS here would mean people would have to continue traveling a half mile north to Walgreens or RiteAid, or 1.5 mi. to the south to visit Walmart, Target or Marc’s – oh! the drudgery!
Thanks to HowardBHaas for letting us know about that article. I note that Evergreen Painting Studios of New York is involved with the Ohio lobby project. Evergreen was involved with the restoration portion of the 1990 plexing of what became the Village East Cinemas, and did a lot of work on the 1996 main lobby renovation of the Loews 84th Street, both in Manhattan.
Cinema 1 had two Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 35/70mm machines from the pre-automation days when they were using 6000' reels. When the automation was installed in 1984 both machines were left in place and operable. The Christie 3-stack platter was installed with additional rollers so it was possible to use either machine which was convenient in case of a bulb failure or some other problem. If the show would stop and the problem couldn’t be fixed right away the projectionist could thread up on the other machine. An unscheduled intermission but we wouldn’t lose the whole show. I suspect when the DLP machine was added one of the V8s was disconnected and pushed aside, but left there in the booth. It’s a big room, as booths go, so it wouldn’t be in the way. Plus I’m sure nobody wanted to be involved in trying to get that beast down all the stairs to the street.
In response to ‘theatrefan’ – Lincoln Square was originally to have a rather lackluster design by Gensler under the old regime at Loews, Alan Friedberg and the USA Cinemas gang. Sony put them out to pasture early in the construction phase and Jim and Barrie Loeks took over. They had Gensler add the indoor box office on the street level (it was originally to be in the window where the video display ended up), they added the 3 cinemas in the cellar, and had him ramp up the overall decor up a couple of notches. For whatever reason they didn’t use his services on future projects (maybe they didn’t like him, maybe he didn’t like them, maybe he decided he would rather design office buildings or supermarkets. Who knows?). When they decided to re-do 84th Street the Loeks' we’re looking for someone who would deliver an imaginative design, not necessarily a carbon copy of Lincoln Sq. They liked Rockwells work at Le Bar Bat on 57th Street, so they gave him a shot and were pleased with the result. And the rest is history.
So who actually has the lease and operates this since Loews left? I’m sure Nokia, Best Buy and now Play Station just pay to have their name on it and have nothing to do with the operation. It looks like they sign on for five year deals.