Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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veyoung52
veyoung52 on February 3, 2005 at 8:55 pm

DennisZ, have to amiably disagree with you on “Ben-Hur” at the Boyd. When the final Cinerama travelogue, “South Seas Adventure” ended in Sept/Oct 1959, the 3-panel equipment was removed, and 70/35mm projectors installed in the original booth. The Cinerama curtain (and this is what may have confused you) was retained, but placed on a flat track that stretched across the entire width of the auditorium. I don’t know the exact width, but the Boyd (which reopened with BH) was one of the few 70mm houses that used the anamorphic lens for MGM Camera 65 (or UltraPanavision 70) that included a 1.25x squeeze rendering an approximate 2.7:1 screen aspect ratio. The screen, of course, was in front of the proscenium. Now, if the present day width for 70mm projection in 2.2:1 ratio is 56' (verified on a recent Boyd tour), then the 2.7:1 image had to be in the area of 75 feet.(The original 3-panel Cinerama with its 2.7:1 ratio was 76 feet wide.) But it was flat. And stayed that way through “Exodus,” “King of Kings,” and a number of other 70mm roadshows until Summer of 1962, when Cinerama was reinstalled for the “Bros Grimm” and “How the West Was Won.”

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on February 3, 2005 at 8:15 pm

Dennis
When I saw Man Of La Mancha in the early 70’s they had a curved screen. When I went back in 75, to see the rerelease of GWTW, the screen was flat and remained that way. The last time I was there was in 1991 to see Hook.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on February 3, 2005 at 8:06 pm

I am almost sure from my first visit to see the original three projector Cinerama travelogues until Stanley Warner sold the Boyd to the Sameric Theatres, the curved Cinerama screen was always used. I remember seeing “Ben Hur,” “Doctor Zhivago”, and even “The Happiest Millionaire” and they were all on the curved screen. Only after my first visit to see the roadshow “Fiddler On The Roof” when it was renamed the Sameric Theatre, did I see a “flat” screen within the
prosceium of the “stage.” The 70mm rerelease of “Gone With The Wind” was shown at the Randolph Cinerama Theatre. The Randolph was converted to single projection Cinerama in 1967.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 29, 2005 at 11:46 pm

Interesting – Lion King is the first show in Boston’s Opera House after Clear Channel restored and reopened it last year. It has been playing for six months and departs next month.

yvgtspike
yvgtspike on January 29, 2005 at 11:17 pm

For those who never seen the Boyd, it is small theatre although it has 2400 seats with a great sight line. It should be good for a legit theatre. It’s history as a movie theatre was so so. I hope the future make everybody appreciate the theatre. Lion King suppose to be one of its first show. This Wedneday they are having a tour of the theatre. This should be the last time the public will be able to see the theatre untill it reopens in 07.

justin2rue
justin2rue on January 29, 2005 at 8:19 am

Yeah,I agree. Good to hear. Nice change of pace instead of finding out the place will be bull dozed like all of the Duece in New York… pick up the book Sleazoid Expess if you want to hear a real sad story. Best, Justin Zaharczuk— Production Designer(Bubba Ho-Tep, Phantasm)

deleted user
[Deleted] on January 29, 2005 at 2:52 am

Good news for a change makes me happy.

justin2rue
justin2rue on January 21, 2005 at 9:22 pm

-Stephan,I will gladly assist any way possible. As stated,my family still resides across from the old Fern Rock Theatre. All the best with your book.The excerpt you sent me is rich in detail. Best, Justin Zaharczuk

veyoung52
veyoung52 on January 21, 2005 at 8:38 pm

I am trying to locate the negative of a photograph I took in the Sameric/Boyd auditorium sometime in the 1980’s. I want to give it to Howard Haas at the upcoming Boyd tour next week. I took the shot specifically to show the teaser in the “up” position which was used when the house showed 1:85.1 70mm prints (as opposed to anamorphically derived 2.2:1). Through the 1970’s, they ran ALL 70mm prints incorrectly in the ratio of somewhere between 1.9 and 2.0. I remember one sequence of “CE3K” in the electrical substation where Dreyfus and another employee are speaking to each other, each one standing at the corner of the frame. As projected here, neither actor could be seen, as the ratio was so far off the mark. At any rate, does anybody remember which 70mm 1.85:1 films (like THE ROSE, THATS ENTERTAINMENT) ran at the SamEric. As I said, the photo was taken sometime in the 1980s, but I can’t remember what the feature might have been at that time. Thanks for your help.

SteveG
SteveG on January 19, 2005 at 9:28 pm

Re: Fern Rock and Olney. Steve G’s email is

SteveG
SteveG on January 12, 2005 at 2:58 am

Re: Fern Rock Theater. Mike or Justin, I grew up in Olney from ‘46 to '56 on Nedro Ave, and am writing a book that needs details. I saw Rebel Without a Cause at the theater on 5th Street across from Fisher’s Park when it came out, as well as the old serials like Flash Gordon and Tarzan. Where can I find some details about that neighborhood, like what kind of trees grow in Fisher’s Park, and was the theater named the Fern Rock back then. I can’t remember. I call it the Olney Cinema so far in my book because that’s all I can remember. I found this web site googling Fisher’s Park. Help. I’m too far from Philly to go take a look. Thanks, SteveG

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 9, 2005 at 7:56 pm

cypress;
Can you post that link of the photo of the Circle Theatre onto its page here on Cinema Treasures /theaters/9237/
Thanks

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on January 9, 2005 at 7:32 am

Cypress, the theatre that you see in the picture at the Margaret-Orthodox station of The Market Frankford Line was the former Stanley Warner’s Circle Theatre.

Scholes188
Scholes188 on January 8, 2005 at 5:35 pm

Does anyone know the name of the theater that is partially visible from this Philly El?

http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?16583

justin2rue
justin2rue on November 25, 2004 at 8:53 pm

If anyone finds more info on the FernRock Eric Theatre,contact me at I have pictures to trade as well. Gotta run,J.Z.

veyoung52
veyoung52 on November 25, 2004 at 3:37 pm

Contact Howard Haas at savethesameric.org. They have occasional events, like a tour of the theatre this upcoming December 1, to raise funds for its preservation.

RobertR
RobertR on November 25, 2004 at 2:29 pm

Has any progress been made to save this theatre?

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on November 25, 2004 at 1:09 pm

If memeory serves me right, they installed a new screen sometime between 1973 and 1976. I saw the roadshow engagement of Man of La Mancha there. When I returned the next time to see a re-release in 70mm of Gone With The Wind they has a new screen. Is at in the balcony for La mancha, but rememebr even though the film was flat,they had a large curved screen. When I went back the screen was a normal flat widesceen. It was a very large screen. They had masking that opened across and up and down. By the early 80’s the masking on the right side was torna nd never replaced.

veyoung52
veyoung52 on November 25, 2004 at 1:03 pm

When was this? Are you sure you are not speaking of the brief period in 1958 when 3 CineMiracle projectors were installed for “Windjammer.” Neither my (fading) memory nor the offical International Cinerama Society list of Cinerama installations has any mention of a 3-projector setup in Glenside. You may be referring to a partial installation at what became the GCC Cinema at the Cherry Hill Mall in N.J. Platforms for the A,B, and C booth were constructed in front of the conventional booth. Closer to Glenside, the then Stanley-Warner King of Prussia house was designed for D-150 projection. The booth was placed at the front edge of the balcony, but the curved screen was never installed. If you have any factual info about a 3-projector run at the Keswick (other than “Windjammer”’s), please inform us.

raymondgordonsears
raymondgordonsears on November 25, 2004 at 11:10 am

Did you know that in the mid 60’s cinerama was moved to the Keswick theatre in Glenside, Pa. The projection booth was gutted (all 35mm) and the 3 system cinerama equipment install. Do to the size of the screen the stage was closed. It did very well at this theatre. This theatre was not part of any chain so this was a big venture for the owner. rg

veyoung52
veyoung52 on November 25, 2004 at 5:16 am

More Cinerama information about the Boyd. To make a tortuous story
short, when the Dept. of Justice granted Stanley-Warner
Theatres the right to produce and distribute films, in particular
Cinerama films, part of the arrangement was that theatres
that SW acquired specifically for the presentation of
Cinerama had to received court assent to show non-Cinerama
productions; on the other hand, theatres which SW already
owned could present non-Cinerama features without any court
intervention. The Boyd fell into the latter category, and
this explains the non-Cinerama portion of the Boyd’s history
in the 1950’s. The 4th Cinerama travelogue, “Search For
Paradise,” proved to be less than successful at the box-office.
Non SW-owned theatres that suddenly had no Cinerama product
simply closed. Example: the Melba in Dallas. On the other hand,
SW-owned houses retooled for “normal” 35mm activity, and
booked non-Cinerama product. The Pittsburgh Warner, for example,
dropped Cinerama in favor of DeMille’s “10 Commandments"
in 1957. The following year, with crowds dwindling at the Boyd,
the house closed for about a month, installed 4-track mag penthouses
for its 2 35mm projectors, hung new vertically-rising
masking that could, in conjunction with the screen curtains,
mask out a "flat” or “scope” 35mm ratio. I would bet that
at that time the controls for the curtain motor(s) were
moved from behind the screen to the upstairs booth. At any
rate, in March of 1958, Cinerama temporarily ended; the
house reopened and showed, continuous-performance, popular-prices,
a series of (mainly) 20th Century Fox films in 35mm scope, and that
summer had a reasonably successful roadshow run of MGM’s “Gigi."
After that film’s end, some enhancements were made to the
3 Cinerama projectors to enable them to show the CineMiracle
production "Windjammer” in Cinerama. This film ran until the
late Winter of 1959, and was replaced by the final Cinerama
travelogue “South Seas Adventure.” After this engagement, all three downstairs booths were dismantled, dual 35/70mm projectors placed in the upstairs booth. The curved curtain track was removed, but
the giant red curtain was hung on a straight track that stretched from wall-to-wall across the entire width of the theatre forward of
the proscenium and in front of a flat one-piece screen, with “Ben-Hur” beginning a period of 35mm and 70mm attractions, most of them
roadshown, over the next 21 month period. Some of the films
shown there were “Exodus,” “King of Kings,” “Judgment at
Nuremburg,” and even Fellini’s esoteric “La Dolce Vita,"
these 3 being roadshown, along with some "mass” attractions
like “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” on a strictly “grind” policy.
The house then closed in mid-Summer of 1962 to re-install
Cinerama for the MGM productions. The Boyd, being somewhat
of a “widebody” auditorium was able to position all 3 projectors
in a single large “Baker” booth, and presented a Cinerama
image much larger than the original 76-foot installation.
December of 1963 saw the removal of 3-projector Cinerama and
the switch to 70mm Cinerama projection, the image at the center
being as tall as the 3x35 Cinerama but covering only about
128 degrees of the 146-degree screen. So confident that Cinerama
would last forever there, side masking was never installed.
There is some anecdotal evidence that special wide-angle
D-150 lenses were used for the presentation of “The Bible” in 1966 as I have been told that the screen image of that 70mm release was the same size as that of the 3-panel projection of 1962.
The Philadelphia “Inquirer” in 1953 published photographs of the
original Cinerama installation. I haven’t yet checked the archives
of the “Evening Bulletin.” I know that Channel 6 covered the 1953
premiere…whether cameras were inside the auditorium, or if any
of the footage is still around for viewing I cannot say.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on October 5, 2004 at 7:03 pm

Why doesn’t the Ritz just take over the Sameric 4. I am sure the large thetaer which is preserved as a landmark and can’t be split would need some work, but the other 3 theaters shouldn’t be that bad since they were opened in the early 80’s.

Jayfar
Jayfar on October 5, 2004 at 5:16 pm

To DennisZ:
The Eric Rittenhouse was among several buildings on Walnut St demolished not long after the fire. What are proposed for demolition now are three buildings behind these on Sansom St (which face the rear of the Boyd). The Philadelphia Parking Authority’s grand vision (NOT!) is of a combined 500 car garage and cinema. That’s not to say they’ve actually signed a lease with the Ritz for the proposed complex.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on October 3, 2004 at 7:03 am

The Eric Rittenhouse Square Twin was opened by Sameric Theatres in 1968. The twins were closed on June 12, 1985. When they reopened on June 28, 1985 there was a third theatre added which was previously a furniture store, which was located between the original two theatres. A fire damaged the buildings on Dec 14, 1994 and the theatres were never reopened. I was wondering whether this building is one of the buildings scheduled to be demolished for a parking garage and a multiplex theatre operated by Ritz Theatres?