Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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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?

Greenpoint
Greenpoint on October 2, 2004 at 9:06 pm

Hi MikeRa,
Thank you for clearing that information up for me.I was not aware of The United Artists Rittenhouse Square 3…but I will be back in Philly and shall investigate.

Thank You again.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on September 27, 2004 at 4:47 am

Greenpoint, the official address of the RKO Stanley Warner Boyd Theatre/Regal entertainment Group’s United Artists Sameric 4 Theatre is 1908-18 Chestnut Street. The United Artists Rittenhouse Square 3 was on Walnut St., between 19th & 20th St. The back street between the rittenhouse Square 3 & sameric 4 was where the exits are located.

MarkA
MarkA on September 27, 2004 at 12:57 am

There is one treasure from the Boyd/SamEric theater that is quite well and alive. The theater’s W.W. Kimball (opus 7050) pipe organ made its final concert on Washington’s Birthday 1969 with Philadelphia organist, Larry Ferrari, at the console. It was the last time an operable theater pipe organ played in Philadelphia. (The next to the last was the Tower theater in Upper Darby.)

After the farewell concert, the organ was removed and became the property of the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society. The Society offers a regular concert schedule on the organ, which is over three times its original size. The link to DTOS is: [url]www.geocities.com/dtoskimball.[/url] There is plenty of information about the organ, some pictures of the Boyd theater and lots of pictures of the interior of the organ at DTOS.

Greenpoint
Greenpoint on September 11, 2004 at 9:36 pm

I must retract my false address…it was 20th and Chestnut as opposed to the 20th and Locust.

My deepest apologies.
Happy Patriots Day.

Greenpoint
Greenpoint on September 11, 2004 at 9:34 pm

I am glad to read that the Sam Eric 4 was never a gay-porn house…Not that anything is wrong with gay porn..or porn for that matter..but enough preaching.

I was just under the assumption that since the Sam Eric 4 at 20th and Locust was not located too far from the gay Walnut strip in Center City..where on a Saturday night at about 2am, Walnut between 13th and Juniper is jumping with tranvestite prostitutes and their pimps…I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express Midtown over the labor day 2004 weekend.

I would say that I was lead to my mis-conclusion by Johnathan Demme’s Philadelphia film with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington..(for my money two of the best actors that Hollywood has ever turned lose on the world.)

There was that comment that the Jason Robards character made during the trial about the theatres on Walnut (maybe a nod towards Locust) …so that gave me the fodder for my assumptions…false as they may have been.

Happy Patriots Day

DonnaBonanni
DonnaBonanni on May 26, 2004 at 4:08 am

View link here is a link to theater

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on April 27, 2004 at 11:07 pm

Mikeoaklandpark, The William Goldman’s Randolph Theatre actually closed in Janunary 1971, not in 1969.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on April 27, 2004 at 8:49 pm

In reference to Mikeoaklandpark question above. The Cinerama Screen was installed in the early 1950’s. The Boyd showed all the original Cinerama travelogue films – “Search For Paradise”, “7 Wonders of the World.” Then later with “Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm,” “How The West Was Won”, “Mad World,” “Circus World”, “Hallelujah Trail”. Then in the late 1960’s the Randolph Theatre was converted to the one projector Cinerama process. That theatre presented “Grand Prix”, “Ice Station Zebra” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The Cinerama screen remained in the Randolph till the theatres demolition. However, when Sameric took over the Boyd

Theatre in 1971, the curved Cinerama Screen which extended out past the side exits on either side of the stage, was removed. I would love to see pictures of the installation of the Cinerama screen and the additional two projection booths at the Boyd when that was done. The original Cinerama process required three projectors to fill the screen. My first visit to the Boyd was to see the Cinerama traveloques.

yvgtspike
yvgtspike on April 27, 2004 at 12:19 am

The first movie I saw at the Sam Eric was Close Encounter. Although the Sam Eric advertised movies in 70mm Dolby Stereo, the theatre did not have dolby sound system. It did not need it due to it’s natural sound. If you ever been in the balcony the back wall is padded. The theatre had a good bass so the sound was deep. You can actully feel it at times. My biggest complaint was it you were down stairs the projection booth block the back speakers. I never saw Earthquake there, but I heard it was great. After the Fox was closed, the Sam Eric was the show case theatre in center city getting all the big movies. I had Star Wars 5 & 6, the Indiana Jones series and the big movie at Christmas. It held the premiere for Philadlphia. One year it showed older movies, including 2001 in 70mm 6-track stereo sound. The down stair was closed off so you had to sit in the balcony. It was billed as see it and hear it the way it was meant to be. It was billed has having one of the biggest screen in PA. It a shame that UA did not want to run it. It wasn’t always a pleasure seeing a movie there!! The quality of the picture and sound presentation wasn’t always reliable.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 26, 2004 at 12:39 pm

I grew up in Phila and remeber the Sameric well. What I can’t remeber is them ever showing Cinerama movies. Can anyone give me anymore information about what films played there in Cinerama. It is a shame that all the center city theaters are gone. It started in 1969 when the Randolph closed. The last showing was Tora Tora Tora. Than the Stanley went next a year later. There last film was Viva Max. RKO had promised to build a twin theater,but that never happened. The theater sat empty for many years. I think the next theater to go was the Arcadia which became a Roy Rogers hambugers joint In the early 80’s the Fox, Milgram(formally the RKO Stanton) and Stage Door Cinema closed. After I loved to Florida in 1983, the
rest of the center city theaters disapeared.I think the last one to go was the Midtown which is now the Prince Art theater.