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The Britton was probably the finest single screen theatre in Tampa when first opened in 1956 before being destroyed by GCC in 1973. Capacity of the single screen Britton was 2200 seats and included a balcony. It was huge and very modern for its day. Some films I remember seeing on the Britton’s 60-foot wide screen were WEST SIDE STORY, SPENCER’S MOUNTAIN, CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED, WHAT A WAY TO GO, PLAY MISTY FOR ME, and LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH. The final film shown on the original big screen was THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK in 1972.
When the BOGGY CREEK run ended GCC closed it for several weeks reopening it as a triplex in 1973. All the character of the original Britton was destroyed—it was pretty bad. Evidently proud of the job they had done GCC then quickly twinned the Loew’s Theatre on Westshore effectively destroying another beautiful theatre. In 1992 Movieco took over ownership of the Britton and cut it into an 8-plex—it was horrendous. I only went once out of curiosity and never again.
Just added photos of marquee and front of theatre building and ad for “The Bible” opening.
During the early 1980’s Dolby Stereo was installed in one of the larger auditoriums. When “A Hard Day’s Night” was reissued in 1982 it played exclusively at the Varsity in Dolby Stereo and sounded great. The film was was held over for a 2nd week but moved to a smaller auditorium with mono sound and the volume at a much lower level. I complained no less than 3 times to the assistant manager as well as two ushers asking them to please increase the volume. Although each one said they’d take care of it nothing was ever done. I was not a happy camper and could never understand their refusal to raise the audio level.
This is a duplicate page of the Ritz Theatre in Ybor City, Tampa FL. Ybor City is misspelled as Yorba City in the heading. Yorba City does not exist in Florida.
I remember seeing “Fatal Attraction” here back in 1987. It was showing in the larger theatre in the front on the left. The auditorium was packed except for the first 4 or 5 rows. When the film ended and the audience headed for the exits I noticed a huge pool of water covering the floor and extending from the front to about the 4th row. Surprisingly the final showing that evening was not cancelled. Had the proper authorities known about it I suspect management would have been forced to shut the auditorium down.
The theatre reopened earlier this year as Villagio Cinemas of Carrollwood featuring stadium seating, six auditoriums, an Italian restaurant, in-theatre dinning, and an upscale bar and lounge.
Thanks Don. I remember Lakeland also had the Filmland Drive-In. I visited the Filmland’s lot around 1992 and the only structures still standing were the box office with a caved-in roof and the bare remnants of a marquee. At about the same time the Hillsboro was being dismantled the Fun-Lan was adding a second screen. I thought for certain the Hillsboro had sold their screen to the Fun-Lan but instead they had installed a new but much smaller screen. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago.
The original concrete block screen was just slightly wide but not real scope. A new curved screen installed in 1969 was wider and much closer to scope. Under the photos tab there’s an article about the closing of the Hillsboro along with a photo showing the wider screen. Standard flat films were shown with several feet of blank screen on each side. For scope films the image filled the screen with hardly any overthrow off the sides. Directly behind the screen stood the white indoor theatre building. If a large portion of the image had projected off the sides it certainly would’ve been very noticeable on the building. Occasionally on scope films a very small amount of light would sometimes be visible on the building off each side of the screen but very minimal. Of all the drive-ins in Tampa the 20th Century had the only true CinemaScope screen.
Just about every time we arrived at the drive-in I’d head for the children’s playground. My mother would usually be standing nearby or sitting on the benches. But once the movie began we always headed back to the car. I wonder if anyone remembers the rabbit cages behind the trees at the base of the screen. Kids would sometimes feed the rabbits through the wire grating. This was probably around the mid-to-late 1950s.
Darrenparlett: I love this page too!
Thanks Don. This is very interesing. An article on the closing of the Hillsboro mentions the drive-in originally had a plywood screen which I found hard to believe. But I guess it’s true. An old photo of the lot shows individual speakers in the ground and an opening day article mentions sound emerging from several underground speakers scattered throughout the lot. I wonder if the speaker you have was also utilized for the film’s soundtrack or maybe used as a backup. Your speaker has to be a collector’s item! Any idea if the screen in the photo showing the in-ground speakers is the original plywood screen? If so then the block screen was built over this one.
Sad to hear the in-car speakers were sold for scrap although this probably happened with just about every closing drive-in. I wish I had an original Hillsboro window speaker today. Amusing story about removing the poles and cement bases! I doubt they’re still buried at the rear of the property. They were probably dug up once the land was excavated and cleared for construction of the apartment complex. Any idea what happened to the screen? I’m guessing it too was demolished although it may have been dismantled for use at another drive-in.
Not sure since I didn’t see the film at this theatre and the ads make no reference to a stereo soundtrack. I had hoped to find a local critic’s review (who may have noted a stereo soundtrack) but did not see a review in the St. Pete Times.
Terry, Yes, it does appear the film was presented in Todd-AO 70mm. Although the opening day ad does not mention Todd-AO or 70mm, I just now checked the ad for the day prior to the opening and it does have the Todd-AO 70mm blurb.
Correction: I inadvertently typed June 25, 1970 above as the date opening date. The run actually opened on December 17, 1969 and ended on June 25, 1970.
Thanks Tim. “The Tingler” was digital and “Homicidal” was 35mm. I just checked the website and was amazed at this months line up of horror/sci-fi classics. Even “Village of the Damned”(1960) is scheduled. Time to vacation in NY for the next two weeks.
Thanks Bill. Love Castle’s films—he took showmanship to the upmost level. What I would have given to have been there. Any idea if showings were film or digital?
Just posted a review and ad for “Panorama Blue” an x-rated adult film supposedly shot in 70mm that played in 1974.
Just did some checking and found the closing date was May 28, 1956. The ad states, “closed till further notice” although checking the time clock listings monthly through 1957 showed no futher ads. The last features shown were “Carousel” and “New York Confidential”
“Gone With The Wind” ad from 1968 showing posted under photos tab.
Just posted a couple ads for showing of “The Sound of Music” under photos.
Just posted a couple ads under photos.
Thanks Terry. Great hearing from you again! Sure wish Loew’s was still with us.
Trish, My last visit was about 7 years ago. Since the 80s they’ve added two more screens and there isn’t a fence or barrier on the lot separating one screen from the other. Depending where you park you can easily see at least one other screen which was distracting. Once you enter the lot you head towards your screen number and park. Parking is erratic—no ryme or reason—I’ve even seen cars parked sideways! If the lot had to be cleared quickly due to an emergency it would be a nightmare trying to exit. As for being safe—it seemed to be o.k. 7 years ago although that area isn’t known for having the best reputation for many years. So whether it’s safe now I can’t really say. But regardless of all this I’m glad the Fun-Lan is still with us.
In June of 1960 the Park had the exclusive Florida west coast showing of “Can-Can” in Todd-AO requiring the installation of 70mm projectors and a giant 60' by 30' screen. The film played for 10 weeks. Ad posted under the photos tab.
Great shot. Those were the days when real operators ran the booth.
Mike, Thanks for posting. I hadn’t seen this shot of National Hills before. Is the building still standing?
This theatre opened as the Trans-Lux INFLIGHT Cine Theatre and later went through several name changes.