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The Blue Mouse was built by John Hamrick for his growing chain of theaters in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland Oregon. It was located in Downtown Seattle on “theater row” with the Music Box (another Hamrick house) located across the street, the Coliseum a half block to the north and the Fifth Avenue a block south.
At some point (the date unknown to me), the Blue Mouse became a Sterling (aka SRO) Theater. During the 50s and 60s, the Blue Mouse was one of Seattle’s premiere road-show theaters. My only memory was seeing the marquis across the street from the Music Box. My family was attending Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady was playing at the Mouse. As far as I know, I’ve never been in this theater.
It was torn down to make way for “progress,” a very boring bank tower.
The Colonial was actually open into the late 1960’s or early 70’s. I don’t have an exact date of closure, but I would have been about 11 or 12 at the time and I remember seeing the theater listed in the Sterling Theaters ad.
The Embassy has not been demolished. Instead, the theater has been restored as The Triple Door, a nightclub mostly featuring jazz acts. The interior has been restored, leaving the original details on the walls and ceiling. All of the seating has been replaced with tiered seating featuring tables.
Above the theatre is the Wild Ginger restaurant, located in space formerly occupied by a drug store. This space was never a theater. Both the Triple Door and Wild Ginger are owned by the same person and are wildly popular.
The Northgate is scheduled to be demolished sometime in October.
The Music Box was one of Seattle’s premier theaters. Equipped for 70mm, it had a massive screen that wonderfully overwhelmed the theater. I saw “Days of Thunder” in 70mm here in 1978 and it was stunning!
When Cineplex Odeon took over operations in 1987, they had no idea how to book this theater. The previous owners had cultivated an eclectic mix of American independent and foreign film bookings, but CO threw out that policy and booked anything they could. Needless to say, audiences stayed away.
The Lake City was a very basic neighborhood theater devoid of any charm. It was built by Sterling in the late 40’s and ran it until it closed in the early 80’s. The theater had about 800 seats.
One can only imagine how beautiful this theater was before a “remodel” was done in 1949, which destroyed nearly all of the interior decorations noted above.
Saps brings up an interesting question, wondering how The Coliseum could deteriorate into a grindhouse, even with its enviable location in the middle of downtown Seattle’s retail core. When Tom Moyer’s Luxury Theaters of Portland Oregon took over operation in the late ‘70’s, the already deteriorating theater went into a steeper decline with minimal maintenance performed on it. Finding a seat that wasn’t broken became more difficult. The Coliseum even made the front pages of the daily newspapers when on the opening night of Seattle’s only presentation of “Dune” in 70mm, riots nearly broke out when the poorly maintained projection equipment broke down several times.
Although it is true that the current Banana Republic could be gutted and The Coliseum could rise once again, this is very doubtful. At least the exterior is preserved and looks as if it had just been built.
The Broadway was a long and narrow theater that specialized in foreign films in its final few years before closing. It was operated by Randy Finley’s Seven Gables Theaters and was closed when the Broadway Market Cinemas opened just two blocks north.
This theater’s name was originally The Princess, which lasted until 1965 when the owners of the Ridgemont in Seattle bought it and changed the name to The Edgemont. They specialized in showing foreign films for several years before new owners purchased it and renamed it The Edmonds.
The Princess/Edgemont/Edmonds was my home-town theater and it’s great to see how wildly popular it is today after 82 years of operation. It’s location is far enough away from the nearest multiplex so that it is its own zone and is able to book popular first-run films at the lower admission prices noted above.
The Edmonds is a must-see for anyone who pines for the days of single-screen small-town theaters.
The original Lynn Theater was 800 seats, but was never twinned. Instead, an identical theater was built shortly after it opened and was known as the Lynn Twin. In 1978, each of the theaters was split down the middle, creating four long and narrow theaters. Sterling actually closed the theater before Cineplex bought them out after three additional screens were added to their Grand Alderwood Cinemas.
The Gold Coast was originally operated by UA before being taken over by Century. It has been closed for several years now, but no great loss as the theaters were unremarkable.
If you look at the list closely, I think you’ll find that EW tried to list a cinema that fulfills its niche well (Muvico for the ultimate megaplex, Film Forum for repertory programming etc). That being said…
It is a crime that the Seattle Cinerama is not on the list. The Dome in Hollywood is all well and good, but Seattle’s Cinerama wins hands down. While the Dome features a more standard 120 degree curved screen, the Seattle Cinerama features a true 148 degree curved screen, as originally developed by Cinerama Inc. Seattle’s Cinerama has also showcased more Cinerama film revivals, not only just “How the West Was Won” and “This is Cinerama”, but much rarer screenings of “Cinerama Search for Paradise,” “Cinerama’s Seven Wonders of the World,” and rarest of all, a one-time screening of Cinemiracle’s “Windjammer,” a print shipped from Australia of all places (BTW, the print was horribly faded, but who cares?).
The Villa Plaza was built and operated by General Cinema Corp.
I’m not so sure why Starplex took over the Gateway. When Century opens their new 16 plex down the street soon, the Gateway is sure to be history. I suspect that’s why Galaxy got out.
The best (and only) aspect of this cineplex are the spacious lobbies. Any kudos should end there. Built before the stadium seating craze, the theaters have very little slope to them. When it opened, customers complained in droves regarding the fact that the high back seats blocked out the bottom part of the screen. So Cineplex-Odeon (the operator at the time) hurriedly replaced all 3000 seats with a more standard design. The replaced seats ended up at the Woodinville 12 in suburban Seattle.
As it is, the theaters are poorly designed little boxes. Even the two ‘large’ houses are nothing special. I avoid this theater like the plague and haven’t been there in years.
The listing should be corrected to read “demolished.” Washington Mutual Bank had the theater completely torn down, so that they could put up their bland ‘brick and mortar’ building.
The Magnolia was built and operated by SRO theaters, who ran it throughout its history. It was a classic neighborhood theater, showing second-run double bills, though, curiously, SRO booked the exclusive road-show booking of Oliver there in 1968, though I have no reason why.
Actually, Ken, you are referring to a different theater. In 1975, two entrepreneurs took over the lease of the Moore Theater (located at 2nd Ave and Virginia Street) and did a cosmetic remodel to turn it into an art house. They named it the Moore-Egyption. In 1979, they were forced to vacate (either by losing their lease, or finding that it was difficult to fill 1500 seats with foreign films) and took over the old Masonic Hall in Seattle’s Captital Hill district, now known as the Egyption. I’m hazy on the date, but a few years later, Landmark took it over and kept the same booking policy, who still run it today.
This magnificent marquee belongs to the Coliseum Theater, located at the corner of 5th Ave and Pike Street in downtown Seattle.
Alas, the theater is no longer operating and the marquee is gone. The building now houses a Bananna Republic.
The reason you can’t see the name of the theater is that it rotated on top of the marquee in large neon letters spelling out C-O-L-I-S-E-U-M. The motor broke down years before the theater was closed, and was never repaired.
As an aside, the Coliseum was opened in 1916 and was the first movie palace designed specifically for motion pictures
I’ve just exited from “The Aviator” in the main house, and what a theatre it is! Everything stated above is true; this theatre is spotless!
Somve corrections are in order. Actually, this is a six-plex, though the other five theatres are in an adjoining building. The orginal theatre has not been compromised. When it was renovated, new seating was brought in and now seats 740 utilizing love seats (actual small sofas) and private boxes as well as regular seating.
There are two balconies and the design is somewhat distantly similar to La Scala, the opera house in Italy, with the balconies curving around to three sides of the theatre.
Pathe is the cicuit that operates this theatre and they are to be commended for such a wonderful renovation. I urge anybody visiting Amsterdam to visit the theatre and buy a ticket, even if you don’t want to see the film. Be aware that this theatre does not offer wheelchair access.
After General Cinema put the Aurora Cinema I II III out of its misery in 2000, the Cinema Grill operation did a cosmetic remodel and operated it for a short time as a cinema/restaurant. The theater still remains vacant and is for sale.
Actually, the Bay had seating of about 300 in a very narrow space.
The King originally was opened and operated by Walter Reade Theatres, but closed in early 1975 when that circuit went bankrupt. It sat vacant for a couple of years until General Cinema took over the lease.
The King gained much unfavorable publicity when General Cinema refused to install 70mm projection equipment for its exclusive booking of “Close Encounters.” It wasn’t until several months later when local theater operator Randy Finley took over the Crest in North Seattle, installed the proper equipment, and reopened with “Close Encounters” in 70mm. The house was sold out for several weeks thereafter.
General Cinema always took great care of the King, even in its waning days. When it became apparent that the economics of running a large 900 seat single screen proved too difficult, a decision was made to shutter the theater in 1989 with a one week showing of “Patton” in 70mm of course!
Three years later, a pair of film enthusiasts reopened the King, along with the shuttered UA70/150 across the street and operated all three theaters under the Seattle Cinedome name. Unfortunately, the major studios preferred to do business with the chains and after three years of operation, the King again closed.
There were originally two theaters in downtown Wenatchee, the Liberty and the much smaller Vitaphone, both located on the same block. The Liberty was triplexed in the mid ‘70s with the main floor left intact and the balcony walled off and split into two small 200 seat theaters.
Sometime during the ‘80s, the Vitaphone was twinned with the small balcony walled off, creating another screen. The two theaters came under joint ownership and became the Liberty, with its current five screens. As noted above, there are two entrances. The 'bank lobby’ entrance is to the original Liberty and was actually relocated from an orginal entrance on the corner. The ‘Eagles Hall’ entrance was originally the Vitaphone.