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No, the theater will never be demolished. San Antonio has a strict preservation mentality (for the most part). It’s only a matter of time until it’s sold, and put to use. As mentioned in my previous posts, I agree that the past few attempts at programming have been idiotic. It is currently owned by Drury Inns – a most unfortunate situation.
Didn’t realize that they’d already converted the balcony to twin theaters that soon! Of course, it’s back to a single (empty) theater now – the restoration, however, removed a large percentage of the orchestra seats…
OK, a portion of the original theater is now the Area Stage Company – Google for the web site. What confuses me, is what part of the original theater do they actually occupy? On the Google Street Map, it is clear that there are now windows on the top section of the old auditorium. Perhaps they lowered the ceiling, and created offices at the top? The Area Stage web site shows a large auditorium, but it seats only 275, but with a large “stage.” I’m guessing that it might be the old balcony, but extended. When I attended films there in the mid-80s, as a UM student – they had separated the balcony into two (?) other theaters. Does anybody know?
I walked by The Aztec last week, and they still had the musical country show poster in the window, but there was no sign of life. Everyone in the tourist industry knew that the special effects/IMAX-ish set-up wouldn’t work after restoration, and neither would the country show that followed. A Mexican musical show, minus gimmicks, MIGHT work for a while. Or, a venue for comedians…….The Majestic Theater books a lot of big-name comedians, but it seats more people, as The Aztec lost half (?) of its seating during the restoration. I was surprised to read that it originally had 3,000 seats – seems a lot smaller than The Majestic, even back then.
Actually, “gimmicks” sometimes work with the type of tourist who comes to SA – just not what anybody has tried. Ripley’s has enough of that stuff downtown, anyway. It would take Disney or Universal to pull it off successfully….
East TN was a “petrie dish” for urban renewal in the 70s. Just about EVERY small town was destroyed by the “experiment” – massive loss of significant architecture. Very sad.
I guess catching people is fun.
WOW, Ed, we’ve had some of the same experiences. Saw “Bedknobs” there, as well. 49 here.
“Chitty” was in 1968 – it didn’t open the theater. Ads say “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum.”
This site lists the Aztec as “showing movies”. It must not be a regular occurrence, as their web site makes no reference to films, of any type. The silent “Phantom” film showing, indicated in the photo above, must have been a one-shot deal. I think that the only way that the Aztec can actually make money, is to exhibit special films on a regular basis, and NOT “silent” pictures. San Antonio allowed Ripley’s to take over Alamo Plaza with a variety of questionable “venues”, and the last thing that the adjacent River Walk needs, is another gimmicky showcase. The nearby restored Majestic and Empire Theaters, are controlled by a single entity, and supported by the non-profit Las Casas Foundation. They host travelling shows, and various entertainment groups. The restored Aztec has never found “the proper footing,” and was initially promoted by the nearby flagship Drury Hotel property on the River Walk – for a while, anyway.
Actually, it was not completely restored to its former glory – in the theater section, quite a few liberties were taken, to shoe-horn in that ridiculous special-effects theater concept, and then the pseudo-Opryland thing that followed.
OK, that was odd. Anyway, as I started to finish with, the Powers That Be in the city government recently hired some expensive company to tell them to RAISE the already high parking fees for city garages. SA isn’t LA or NYC – locals are NOT going to sponsor downtown venues and restaurants, if they are forced to pay ridiculous fees. These fees hurt venues like The Aztec (in addition to the ill-advised shows themselves).
I’m “thrilled” to have to type this again. Other sites do have the capability of maintaining a typed post, even if the poster has been unknowingly signed off. Fix that. ANYWAY, this new show is not selling well, on a consistent basis. Its months are numbered, and I’ll be curious to see what the inevitable third utilization of this restored theater will be. In SA, it is always a mistake to base the concept of a venue on the tourist trade – they come here for the Alamo and River Walk, period. The locals do not care about this show. Like the Majestic, Empire, and soon Alameda, reveal, restored theaters work best when catering to the local community. Un UnUn UUUnUnUnfortunaUnfortunately, some
In Austin, the Americana (1965) was pretty awesome – now a library. But the interior is gone. Nicely converted, though.
I’m assuming that the great details of the lobby are long gone – the tile work, etc. It was the most beautiful theater of the 60s, that I can remember. We’re lucky, in San Antonio, to have the older restored theaters (MAJESTIC, EMPIRE, AZTEC), but none of the 60s theaters survived. But we had NOTHING like this one (that I know, since I grew up in Miami, as a kid).
Better view than the mapping that I mentioned in March of 2009 – Google, at the time, only had a street view, I think.
I spoke with my friend who attended “The Empire Strikes Back” premiere back in May of 1980, at the Paramount, and he agrees that it was a single screen at that time. Also, there WAS some 60s uniqueness to its design, and it had a great sign.
Unfortunately, the city powers-that-be STILL love to tear things down. They actually envision making half of downtown a PARK of some sort, demolishing further structures. Amazing. The Capri and Majestic should have been saved. The Capri was covered with one of those horrible plastic/aluminum false fronts, so popular in the 60s, for its final two decades.
Yep, we had Sensurround. I did check with some still-locals, and it was indeed built as a twin, with the larger auditorium constructed on the side, around 76/77.
The address is 114 East Court Street. The building still exists as the DeLoach Shoe Store. When my family lived in Dyersburg from 74 – 83, it had already been closed for a few years. The Martin Twin went up in the early 70s, and resulted in the Frances being closed.
I’m assuming it was at the corner of Main AVENUE and Market Streets, on the downtown square. The 122 address no longer exists, but it is obvious that a building on the downtown square is “missing” (replaced in the 60s, I assume, with a one-story structure). The more current structure on the corner has the address of 120, and has a much smaller “footprint” than the old theater would have.
Did the “Patio” have a separate entrance? I finally saw that “Lovers and Other Strangers” on TCM – hated it. Would probably be a PG13 today.
This will bomb, as well. Parking is an issue with the locals, and they should never base a concept on what is presumed to be the taste of the average tourist. While SA gets a lot of blue-collar families, it also attracts upper-end business conventioneers who are not going to be caught dead in the place. Plus, kids will be bored by the shows. SA isn’t Branson, or Nashville. I’m thrilled that the theater has been restored, but finding the proper usage of the space will be difficult.
My last movie here was “Fright Night” (1985) – the place was in horrible shape by then.
Well, I started going there soon after it opened, and never cared for it. A sister lived in town, so I only went a few times a year. By the early 90s, I refused to see films there at all. I do remember that the building seemed “bad” from the outset. The Carolina had been horribly butchered by twinning. My regional favorite was the lost Ultra-Vision Mall Theatre behind the Asheville Mall – oval theaters, great design. (Most of its life, was called The Mall Twin Theater, I believe.)
Fondest theater memory from childhood was in 60s/70s Florida – the Sunny Isle Twin in Miami. It also had oval theaters – with spectacular tile work in the lobby, and two different color themes for the auditoriums….Aquamarine,(blue) and Driftwood (orange……rocking plush chairs….wow.
Actually, they might have added the largest auditorium (seen to the right in the above photos)AFTER the building housing the twins was first constructed in 72. The first film that I remember seeing in the large auditorium was “Star Wars” in 1977, and “Close Encounters” (1977). “Earthquake” (1974) was definitely in one of the twins in the main building, as was “The Towering Inferno” (1974).