Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carmike Stadium Cinema 6 on May 19, 2010 at 5:31 am

Here’s what I’ve been able to puzzle out about theaters that have operated at this location. A twin called the Camelot 1 and 2 opened at Stadium Road and Warren Street in 1970. It had 475 seats in each auditorium. In 1973 the house was taken over by Carisch Theatres, and the name was changed to Cine 1 and 2. A few years later it was being called simply Cine 2.

In 1988, Carisch Theatres was taken over by Essaness Theatres, which about that time renamed itself Excellence Theatres. The Cine 2 might have been renamed the University Square Cinemas, either before or after Essaness took it over. Essaness/Excellence had plans to add four more screens to the house, according to a 1988 Boxoffice article. I haven’t been able to discover when the additional screens opened, or if any splitting of one or both original auditoriums was involved.

Excellence Theatres didn’t last very long. The circuit was absorbed by Carmike Theatres in 1992.

A review of the current theater on the web site Insider Pages says that it underwent a complete remodeling in 2004, being converted to stadium seating. That’s the only source I’ve found saying that this was a remodeling job, but then I can’t find any sources at all saying that the original theater was demolished to make way for a new building, so I suspect that the current theater does incorporate the original 1970 building and its four-screen addition from around 1988. If it does, then the aka’s Camelot 1 and 2, Cine 1 and 2, and perhaps University Square Cinemas can be added. I’m not sure if the place was actually called University Square Cinemas, or if the writer of the single 1988 Boxoffice item that mentioned it mistook the location of the house for its name. Eventually somebody familiar with Mankato will probably visit this page and let us know.

Also, note that Carmike’s official web site calls this house the Stadium Cinema 6, not the Cine 6. Web sites that haven’t been updated in years indicate that it was called Cine 6 before the 2004 remodeling, so that should be another aka.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Willowbrook Cinema on May 19, 2010 at 4:09 am

The Little Cinema page should also be listed in Wayne. Its map link doesn’t work either.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Maverick 4 on May 19, 2010 at 4:04 am

Yes, it’s very confusing. I spent a couple of hours searching the Boxoffice database, hoping to find evidence that the Mall 4 was renamed the Cine 4, and that the Cine 2 was renamed the University Square Cinemas, but never found them. The Carisch circuit had multiplexes in other cities with the name Cine followed by a number. It’s quite possible that they had, for a time, both a Cine 2 and a Cine 4 operating in Mankato.

One thing I forgot to include in my comment above is that Boxoffice made a reference to the Mall 4 in Mankato in its issue of February, 1985, so if that house was renamed Cine 4 it happened between then and the time of the single reference to a Cinema 4 at Mankuto, in the february, 1991, Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Time Theatre on May 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Boxoffice of July 10, 1937, said that Publix was then operating the State, Grand, and Time theaters in Mankato, so we’ll have to push the opening date of the Time back at least two years.

A December 7, 1929, item in Movie Age said that Publix then had control of all four theaters in Mankato. The names given were the Grand, the State, the Lyric, and the Orpheum. I’m wonderng if the Time Theatre could have been either the Lyric or the Orpheum renamed?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Maverick 4 on May 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm

This house was never a twin. Carisch Theatres operated a twin called the Cine 2 in Mankato from 1973 until at least 1985, but various Boxoffice items show that the Mall 4 and the Cine 2 were different theaters. The Mall 4 might have been renamed the Cine 4 at some point (I’ve only ever found that name used once in Boxoffice, in the February, 1991 issue), but it was opened as a quad by Carisch Theatres in 1978. The smallest of its auditoriums had 112 seats and the largest seated 278, according to an item in Boxoffice of May 22, 1978.

The 1978 item about the opening of the Mall 4 said that Carisch had closed the State and Town theaters on Wednesday, May 3, and that films apt to attract large audiences would be booked into the circuit’s Cine 2, which had 475 seats for each screen.

The Cine 2 had opened as the Camelot 1 and 2 in 1970, and had been acquired by Carisch in 1973. The twin was located at Stadium Road and Warren Street, which is now the location of the Carmike Cine 6. So far I’ve been unable to determine if the Cine 6 is entirely of recent construction or if it incorporates the old Cine 2 building.

The Cine 2 might have been renamed the University Square Cinemas by 1988, when Carisch Theatres was sold to the Essaness circuit of Chicago. Essaness (soon to rename itself Excellence Theatres) planned to add four screens to the University Square, according to the July issue of Boxoffice that year. It isn’t clear from the item whether or not the University Square was indeed formerly the Cine 2, but given the Cine 2’s location near the campus it does seem likely that it was.

That’s as much as I’ve been able to puzzle out from Boxoffice. Someone personally familiar with Mankato will have to fill us in on the details about which of these theaters had which names, and when.

The Maverick 4 seems to have been open for at least part of 2010. It was being operated as a discount house by an outfit called Spectrum Cinema. The “current movies” page of their web site hasn’t been updated since February 3. However, a page about the movie “Dawning” dates from April 5, so the house might be holding special showings intermittently. I can’t find any events scheduled for specific dates, though. Maybe Cinema Treasures should add the category “In Limbo” to the existing categories of “Open” and “Closed.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Willowbrook Cinema on May 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Before Hollywood revamped its rating system to eliminate the X rating, which had been co-opted by the porn industry, a number of mainstream movies (“Midnight Cowboy” for example) did get an X rating, and the Willowbrook did run some of those films. One Boxoffice item from 1970 reported on the local controversy that erupted in Wayne when the Willowbrook Cinema ran the X-rated Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow)” It’s likely that the Little Cinema also ran early X-rated films too, though I don’t know if they ever ran out-and-out porn.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Willowbrook Cinema on May 18, 2010 at 2:13 am

Here’s something from Boxoffice of September 22, 1969: “Spyros Lenas is scheduled to open his newest indoor, a 1,500-seater in the Willowbrook Shopping Center complex Wednesday (24).” Other Boxoffice items give a seating capacity as low as 1,200 for this house, though.

As far as I’ve been able to discover, Lenas' house was the first movie theater in the Willowbrook Shopping Center. The house appears to have been quite successful in its early years. Boxoffice of August 24, 1970, reported that the Willowbrook Cinema had just completed a six month area exclusive run of “Hello Dolly,” with five months as a hard ticket road show event and one month as a continuous performance presentation.

The single-screener was twinned in 1977, and was then advertised in conjunction with the adjacent Little Cinema 1 and 2 as the Willowbrook 4 or the Willowbrook Quad. It’s mentioned frequently as a Lenas operation from 1969 to 1978, but I’ve been unable to find anything about it as a Loew’s house. I haven’t found it mentioned in Boxoffice under any name after 1978.

I’ve posted about the Willowbrook Cinema on the Cinema Treasures page for the Little Cinema, which gives the same address as this page does.

The Willowbrook Shopping Center was designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm Welton Becket and Associates, architects of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Little Cinema on May 18, 2010 at 2:12 am

The June 15, 1970, issue of Boxoffice reported that Spyros Lenas would soon open a 250-seat automated theater on the site of a former restaurant behind his Willowbrook Cinema. This became the house that was called the Little Cinema. Later Boxoffice reports gave the seating capacity of the first Little Cinema as 300.

Boxoffice of June 12, 1972, has an item saying: “DeVisser Theatres announced the grand opening of Little Cinema II, its third theatre in Willowbrook Shopping Center in Wayne, N.J.. All three theatres, including the Willowbrook Cinema and Little Cinema I are owned and operated by Spyros Lenas.”

Boxoffice of December 13, 1976, says this: “Lenas' Willowbrook Cinema in Wayne, which is adjoined by Little Cinema 1 and 2 is advertising that a fourth unit soon will be constructed alongside the existing three. The multiples are all located on the main mall inside the Willowbrook Shopping Center.”

But instead of building a fourth auditorium, the original Willowbrook Cinema was split. Boxoffice of December 19, 1977, said that Lenas' Willowbrook Cinema had reopened as a twin, with approximately 560 seats on each side. They were designated as Cinemas 3 and 4, with the two Little Cinema auditoriums designated as Cinemas 1 and 2. This item said that the originaal Willowbrook had seated about 1200 as a single-screen house, though Boxoffice items at the time of its construction had said that it seated 1,500.

I think the theater listed on Cinema Treasures as Loews Willowbrook must actually be Spyros Lenas' original Willowbrook Cinema (that page gives it the same address as the Little Cinema.) As all four theaters were adjacent, either the Willowbrook Cinema should be listed as being in in Willowbrook, or the Little Cinema should be listed in Wayne. Or, since the whole complex was last advertised as the Willowbrook Cinema 4, maybe they should share a single Cinema Treasures page.

Here is an article about Spyros Lenas (right-hand page) in Boxoffice of August 31, 1972. Lenas was also the operator of the Anthony Wayne Drive-In, adjacent to the Willowbrook center. The Loews six-plex built in 1982 might have been erected on the site of the drive-in, but I’ve been unable to confirm this.

The Willowbrook Shopping Center was designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm Welton Becket and Associates, architects of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm

This weblog post from the Augusta Chronicle says that architect G. Lloyd Preacher designed the Rialto Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mercury Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 2:46 am

An article about the Mercury Theatre appeared in Boxoffice of August 5, 1950. There are four photos. The decoration of the house was by the Hanns Teichert Studios of Chicago, and the architects were the Cleveland firm of Matzinger & Grosel (Paul Matzinger and Rudolph Grosel.)

The opening date of the Mercury Theatre was May 18, 1950. The style should be listed as Art Moderne rather than Art Deco. Boxoffice of May 20, 1950, gave the original seating capacity as a generous 1,600.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mayland Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 2:43 am

Here is an article by Hanns Teichert, whose firm decorated the Mayland Theatre. The January 7, 1950, Boxoffice article includes photos of both the Mayland and a theater called the Lake, which was located in an eastern suburb of Cleveland not named in the magazine. Like the Mayland, the Lake was designed by the architectural firm of Matzinger & Grosel. I’ve been unable to determine of the Lake is listed at Cinema Treasures yet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Madison Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 2:38 am

The Madison Theatre in which the organ was installed in 1921 (noted in Lost Memory’s first comment above) must have been a different theater, perhaps a predecessor to this house. This Madison Theatre opened September 1, 1949. Boxoffice of September 10 that year said that the new house for the Modern Theatres circuit (formerly Scoville, Essick & Reif) had been designed by Cleveland architects Matzinger & Grosel.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vine Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 2:25 am

Like its sister theater in Berea, the Vine was designed by the Cleveland architectural firm of Matzinger & Grosel. Boxoffice of November 17, 1945, announced that construction had begun on the project.

Three small photos accompanied this article about the Vine Theatre in Boxoffice of December 7, 1946.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avalon Theater on May 17, 2010 at 2:14 am

Boxoffice of June 4, 1938, announced that the Avalon Theatre had opened the previous Friday. The new house had been designed by architect Paul Matzinger.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Stillwell Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 2:05 am

The Stillwell Theatre was built for Lena Stillwell, operator of the Bedford Theatre. Boxoffice of January 18, 1941, announced that the plans for the new house, construction of which was expected to begin that spring, had been prepared by Cleveland architect Paul Matzinger.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brook Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 12:59 am

A photo of the lobby of the Brook Theatre was on the cover of Boxoffice of August 5, 1950.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ezella Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 12:41 am

Boxoffice of April 21, 1941, said that Scoville, Essick & Reif would rebuild their Ezella Theatre. Construction was scheduled to begin that spring. An earlier Boxoffice item about the project had given the seating capacity of the original Ezella as 600.

The introduction above and some comments on this page say that the Estella resembled the later Vine Theatre in Willoughby and the Mayland Theatre in Mayfield Heights. Both of those houses were originally built for the same circuit that operated the Ezella, and both were designed by Cleveland architects Paul Matzinger and Rudolph Grosel.

Though not all of the Scoville, Essick & Reif/Modern Theatres circuit houses mentioned in Boxoffice over the years are specifically attributed by the magazine to the firm of Matzinger & Grosel, a 1947 item did say that most of the circuit’s theaters had been designed by them. Given the similarities noted above, the rebuilt Ezella was most likely one of those Matzinger & Grosel designs.

Photos of the Ezella illustrated this article by decorator Hanns Teichert in Boxoffice of August 5, 1950.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on May 17, 2010 at 12:12 am

The Melrose was being operated by Interstate Theatres in 1945, when the December 21 issue of Boxoffice reported that the house had been updated with a new, streamlined boxoffice, a green tile front, and some redecoration of the interior.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Panamericano Theatre on May 16, 2010 at 5:40 pm

The opening of the Teatro Panamericano was noted in a brief article in Boxoffice of October 16, 1943. The house had hosted an invitational preview the previous Monday, and had opened to the public the following night with the Mexican film “¡Ay Jalisco, no te rajes!” and live performances by popular Mexican entertainers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garza Theatre on May 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm

The town’s web site says that the Garza was previously called the Palace Theatre. It also says that it was renamed the Garza when renovated as a live venue in 1986, but Boxoffice mentions the Garza Theatre in Post at least as early as 1943.

The earliest mention of the Palace I’ve found in the trades is in Motion Picture Times of August 25, 1928, though the house apparently opened in 1916.

Boxoffice of March 26, 1936, said that the Palace at Post had been taken over by the Griffith circuit. By 1943 the Garza Theatre at Post is mentioned as being operated by Westex Theatres, a Griffith subsidiary.

I can’t find the name Palace mentioned after 1936, nor anything about any other theaters operating at Post before the Garza is mentioned in 1943, so the renaming must have taken place between those years.

The town’s web site says that the theater closed as a movie house in 1955, and was then boarded up for almost three decades after being damaged by a fire in 1957.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theatre on May 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Boxoffice of September 25, 1948, said that construction had begun on a new theater at Post, Texas. The project was expected to take eight months to complete. However, I haven’t found the Tower mentioned by name in Boxoffice before 1959, and a building in the midcentury modern style of the Tower might have been built at any time during that decade. Still, the town’s web site says that the other movie theater in Post, the Garza, was closed in 1955, so the Tower was most likely open by then.

Post is mentioned infrequently in Boxoffice, so it’s unlikely I’ll be able to dig up any more about the town’s theaters from that source.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on May 13, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Boxoffice of February 12, 1938, reported that the Liberty at El Campo was one of several houses operated by the Long chain in which Griffith Theatres had acquired a half interest. Griffith intended to remodel the Liberty.

The Liberty was taken over from Long Theatres by Harry Grief in 1953, according to Boxoffice of March 28 that year. Grief intended to adopt a policy of showing Mexican movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Trot Theatre on May 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Boxoffice of October 30, 1937, said that Jack Pickens' new Trot Theatre had recently opened at Cuero. An October 16 item had given the origin of the theater’s unusual name. It was named for an annual event in Cuero called the Turkey Trot, in which thousands of turkeys were paraded down the city’s main street.

Not long after opening the Trot Theatre, as well as additional theaters in other towns then controlled by the Hall circuit, Jack Perkins agreed to open no more competing houses in the Hall brothers' territory in exchange for complete control of the theaters in Cuero and two other towns. Pickens thus took over operation of Cuero’s Rialto and Rex theaters, former Hall operations.

Boxoffice of December 29, 1951, said that the Trot Theatre, operated by Video Theatres, had closed on September 29, and there were no plans to reopen it. The Trot had specialized in westerns and Spanish language movies, the item said.

There’s indication that at least one Spanish language house operated in Cuero after the Trot closed. A February 23, 1952, item says that Celia Saenz de Montes of Cuero had visited film row in San Antonio, though it doesn’t say specifically that she operated a theater there. Then there is a March 10, 1956, Boxoffice item mentioning an A. Lopez as operator of the Teatro Lopez in Cuero. It’s possible that the Trot was reopened as a Spanish language theater and renamed, but I’ve not found any confirmation of this.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Normana Theater on May 13, 2010 at 10:02 pm

The Normana Theatre at El Campo was in operation at least as early as 1933. It was mentioned as having been open then in a 1940 Boxoffice article about an antitrust suit.

Brad Richards says in the first comment above that the first Normana Theatre was the one in Cuero, Texas. That theater was sold by Rubin Frels in 1930 and was renamed the Rialto by its new owners, the Hall circuit.

No mention was made of another Normana Theatre in any of the 1928-1930 trade publication items about the first Normana, so it seems likely that the El Campo house was opened between the time the Cuero Normana was sold in 1930 and the 1933 events cited in the 1940 Boxoffice item.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theater on May 13, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I’ve found and April 3, 1948, Boxoffice item indicating that the remodeling of the Rialto did take place. It included new restrooms, a remodeled balcony, a new front, and a renovation of the projection booth. The project was nearing completion, the item said.