Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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LorinWeigard on March 16, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Alps comment on the Boyd posted 3/15/15 is certainly a valid one: “Maybe the movie theater era is over.” I would concur that is true, at least in the showmanship department. The days of the Boyd and her kind ended with the multiplexes, which are no different than any of the big box retailers which replaced Wannamakers, Gimbels, and the other flagship prestige retailers. Case in point was Saturday going to my local multiplex here in the Harrisburg area to see the Met Opera; there are too many instances of this “big box” theatre operation screwing up these presentations to go into here, but this particular presentation was fine up until the last 5 minutes, when the previews for the next show was overlaid with the triumphant finale of Rossini’s opera; a very Warholesque ending but not really what we bargained for! The reason from the manager, the popcorn girl didn’t shut off the one projector! To Alps comment, it’s not the audiences that get to me; its the shoddy amateur “don’t give a damn” presentations that keep at home for the most part. Alas, when the Boyd is reduced to rubble, it only underscores the loss of what one once a glorious movie experience.

alps on March 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm

It was distressing news about the Boyd / Sam Eric being demolished. But I knew that this was going to happen anyway, when I saw the chain link fence on Samson Street, it became real. Center City Philadelphia is on the move, my mind is frozen on the Summer of 1981, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 70mm, was playing on the then single Sam Eric screen, after a quick rain shower, when the cool summer air has a sweet smell to it, stopping on Chestnut Street at Hillary’s ice cream parlor for a chocolate chip in a sugar cone. Philadelphia is a political town; why else do all the touring Broadway shows always are performed at the Academy of Music, which is not a theater for plays.

The Boyd was too far from the Avenue of the Arts, Center City, doesn’t want a concert hall on 19th and Chestnut, or a movie theater for that matter. Now there is only one downtown movie house left over from the movie palace era, the CVS drugstore. The Price Theater, the former Kalton/Midtown, was retail before being converted into a theater. To be honest it iPic’s dinner idea went into effect, I properly would not have patronized anyway, people in movie theaters today are annoying enough without ordering a meal when I’m trying to watch a film. Maybe the movie theater era is over; the experience is not worth the aggravation factor at times. Philadelphia still has Hoffman and Henon designed theater left on Broad Street, the Uptown is one, and the neighborhood the Met is in is now being gentrified, there is hope.

rasLXR on March 11, 2015 at 8:29 am

Demolition has begun.

Bill H
Bill H on January 24, 2015 at 1:47 pm

There is a wonderful article published when this was a brand new theater. Look up Motion Picture News (Jan – Mar 1929). Its dated on February 2, 1929 issue pages 302-305 with photographs!!

LuisV on January 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

Wait, What? The iPic plan is dead? So what now? How much demolition has occurred? What the heck happened?

LorinWeigard on January 20, 2015 at 7:38 am

So now that the Ipic plan to multiplex the Boyd has gone the way of the dodo bird, is restoration of the Boyd still a viable option, or has the demolition of the interior thus far rendered that impossible? Any information from followers is appreciated

Coate on January 19, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Seventy-five years ago today the Boyd opened “Gone With the Wind.“ The opening was preceded by a premiere the day before, and the engagement was concurrent with a booking at the Earle.

R68Dtrain2500 on December 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Due to the fact this old theater was lease to ipic theater in 2013 but they didn’t mention that the Boyd theater is gonna convert into a ipic theater or other movie theater chain. For example Loews American theater in the Bronx was convert into a 7 multiplex screen theater then bow tie cinemas brought the building in 6 years and they closed the theater down .What if AMC Entertainment buy this abandoned theater to play movie and installing two digital 4k projection on each booth at the sane time. I wish the Boyd theater to reopen so that they could play movie every year instead of destorying it .

LorinWeigard on September 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

When I read this weekend that the interior demolition of the historic Boyd for a multiplex renovation was well underway since March, it was like being kicked in the gut. In the days when our family made the trip to the Boyd to see Cinerama or “Around the World In 80 Days”, we were escorted to our RESERVED seats in that magnificent theatre like VIPs. I particulary remember the huge curved curtain and chandlier of that art deco movie palace. I remember as much of the Boyd as I do any of the movies I saw there. With the passing of Cinerama and reserved seat road shows, the grand Boyd was still THE place to see the big shows, like “Close Enounters” in 70m.m. With the money boys having come out on top in the Boyd’s story, it seems in exchange for the demolition of an art deco architectural masterpiece, we get a cookie-cutter multiplex no different than any other, with all the ambience of being herded into a Wal-Mart. On the plus side, there will be cup holders in the new seats. Long gone— Cinerama—70m.m. and grand movie palaces with curtains in which to see them Having followed the Boyd preservation story over the years, I must thank the Friends of the Boyd in their valiant effort to preserve this landmark theatre. This desecration is all our loss.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on June 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm

August 25 marks the 75th anniversary of the world premiere of “The Wizard Of Oz”,which played at the Boyd Theatre.

HowardBHaas on April 18, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Status hasn’t changed because the building remains for the moment. Without suggesting “blame” or “boycot” but simply listing those for the “destruction” as you characterize it, the following testified or wrote in support of the application of Live Nation & iPiC (for which developer Rodin Group will purchase & lease the property): Center City District. Rittenhouse Row. Boyd’s store. Sharon Pinkenson of the Film Office. City Councilperson Clarke, State Senator Farnese, State Rep. Sims. Leaders of William Penn House & 1920 Chestnut Street, both residential buildings nearby. Of course, nobody is more upset than I am. Friends of the Boyd will continue to document & publicize the long & wonderful history of the Boyd. Thanks to those above who expressed their support.

nobodym on April 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

This is the last time I comment on this disgrace. First of all, the status of the theatre should be changed to “destroyed” so people know what really happened. It’s not merely closed. It’s soon to be gone completely for a suburban crap box.

I came across this when searching for info on the Benn Theatre at 63rd & Woodland Ave in SW Philly. Scroll through it if you’re looking for people to blame, email, or stores to boycott who lobbied for the demolition.

nobodym on April 4, 2014 at 10:23 am

Don’t blame the city of Philadelphia for this. Philadelphia is a great city. Blame the entitled suburbanites who hold the most influence in the city and metro, the Historical Commission who is probably in the pockets of developers, the suburbanite-run media throughout the city and metro, and the cowardly developer who can’t be honest and real about what he’s doing.

This whole process has entirely been shaped by entitled suburbanites who either moved to the city or don’t even live there yet feel they have every right to determine what happens there. A lot of them are delusional enough to think that they or the suburban nowhere they come from is somehow as important or more important than Philadelphia. This situation is sadly not unique these days as the only people who ever actually get a voice anymore are those with the most money or the most entitlement. If you don’t believe me, feel free to check out our local media or even our local messageboards and other sites.

RobertR on March 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Beyond pathetic

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm

It really is dumb. Having a showplace civic auditorium is a big plus for city image. Here in Chicago we have several beautiful auditoriums, including the Chicago Theater which is pretty much a full-fledged symbol of the city. They are seen on TV, in movies, by tourists, theater-goers, private parties, etc. If they had a bunch left in Philly I wouldn’t have much to say. But this is their last shot and apparently they blew it. Even Detroit, where God knows errors have been made, got this one right. You know it is pretty bad when you finish behind the Motor City.

dennisczimmerman on March 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I cannot believe the city of Philadelphia. They will do anything for a sports team – new baseball and football stadiums – but the last remaining motion picture palace gets nothing. I cannot believe there is not emough “movers and shakers” in the city of brotherly love to save this gem. Even the city government will not budge – I guess money talks!!!! What a shame. I was so hoping that some day I would be able to walk into the Boyd and go up to the balcony to view a movie, stage show, or concert. Thank God I still have my memories. To this day 2pm on a Sunday reminds me of all the times we traveled to Philadelphia to attend the 2pm Sunday matinee of such films as"Ben Hur,“ "How The West Was Won,” “Brothers Grimm,” “Doctor Zhivago”, the list can go on and on. The Boyd could have been another destination in a tour or trip to the city. Now we will walk past and see an 8 screen complex and remember what used to be there and say “oh ‘heck’. When you think how many movie palaces have disappeared in Center City, it sure would have been nice to keep one of them. How can the much smaller city of York, Pa preserve two of their palaces – the Strand and Capitolcomplex – and Philly cannot manage to keep one operating? Right now I am embarrassed for Philly.

telliott on March 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

Like we’ve said before, once it’s gone, it’s gone. What a shame.

LuisV on March 18, 2014 at 8:56 am

WoW! A new low for Philadelphia. A city that prides itself on history architecture and art has let its last remaining movie palace slip away. For shame! Most major cities have at least two palaces remaining while others, like New York and Los Angeles have scores of them which are used in many different capacities, but they are still around. Now, Philadelphia will take its shameful place as the only? major city without a historic movie palace.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on March 18, 2014 at 5:02 am

That link doesn’t work. Here’s the correct one:

Demolition appears to have begun at the Boyd

EsseXploreR on March 18, 2014 at 3:55 am

Nobody brought the bad news here yet? Demolition has begun inside the auditorium:

nobodym on March 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Life’s Too Short, it’s really quite easy to demolish anything you don’t like when you spread misinformation, insult and belittle those who oppose you, and deal with a “Historical” Commission that has probably never even saved a single building in its entire history.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm

First off I don’t understand why they are spending the money to build a new cinema complex. Every year it seems that film exhibition becomes a tougher business, with more and more direct to video, etc.

Second off I think it’s a shame the City of Philadelphia didn’t save one classic palace as a civic showplace. The Boyd is the last one. Once it is gone there is no coming back.

Here in Chicago plenty of old theaters have been torn down, make no mistake about it. But some nice ones were retained in various parts of the city and they definitely add something.

nobodym on March 15, 2014 at 5:16 am

I’d just like to congratulate the “Historical” Commission on turning Philadelphia into King of Prussia. I look forward to boycotting the suburban joke of a theater that iPic is going to replace the Boyd with, and I’d also like to congratulate Neal Rodin on being an absolute disgrace to the great city of Philadelphia and its storied history, along with the “Historical” Commission.

Now those entitled, delusional suburbanite transplants will have that “blight” removed once and for all. What a joke they are.

nobodym on February 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I love how pretty much every single person speaking on the matter as an “expert” who argues that the Boyd should be demolished or that iPic’s is the best idea is from the suburbs yet they want to talk about “urban” this and “urban” that. I’m FROM an urban area. You don’t know about blight or about what causes problems in an urban neighborhood. I grew up around crumbling factories and other buildings that were worse for wear. Even they aren’t a blight, let alone a shuttered movie theatre. Unlike somebody who grew up on a cul-de-sac with strip malls, I also understand just how important a venue like the Boyd could be to the city and to its immediate surrounding area under my above off-the-top-of-my-head idea and what does and doesn’t work in this situation. iPic’s idea will be an actual blight on the community and anybody who has seen what happens when rowdy teenagers and other people from a background of less discipline and less self-control cram into a movie theatre knows what I’m talking about, not to mention how god awful ugly their building will be. It will also ensure that the city continues to be looked down on as less than its peers of Boston and other major cities because people continue to be allowed to destroy what makes the city unique without so much as a single protest.

These are the people who speak on urban issues and historic preservation in this area… a bunch of people from bland, soulless places with no character, history, or architectural or cultural importance whatsoever. I also find it funny that not once has anybody actually refuted or proved wrong the idea of making the Boyd the showpiece theatre in a multiplex and building a regular multiplex around and above it, while also renting the Boyd out for all kinds of live events when not using it as the biggest screen in a multiplex. Maybe it’s because they know it would probably work.

LuisV on January 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm

New York, arguably, has the world’s greatest remaining collection of Movie Palaces though few still show films. Most of the current Broadway/Times Square theaters at one time showed films and they are still there and thriving including the incredible New Amsterdam. Radio City, The Beacon and the St. George are still going strong as concert venues. The Hollywood, The Valencia, The Paradise, The Loews Gates, the Elmwood, and many others are churches. The Paramount in Brooklyn is a Gym, but still virtually intact. The Loews 175th Street has now returned to service as a classic film showcase. The Loews Kings is undergoing a $90MM restoration and expansion into a performing arts center. The Apollo in Harlem is entering its 80th year and still has their amateur talent show every Wednesday. The Ziegfeld and the Paris still show first run films. Other theaters waiting in the wings for restoration including the Loews Canal, the RKO Keith’s Richmond Hill, the Paramount in Staten Island, the Jackson Heights, the RKO Colosseum. I’m sure I’ve missed many others. There is great value in saving these structures and Philadelphia has no excuse in not being able to save this one; especially when it is located downtown.