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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.
“Windjammer” did in fact play at the Park Theatre in Cinemiracle. It premiered on December 25, 1959 and ran through February 7, 1960 for a total of 6 weeks and 2 days. It played as a roadshow attraction with two showings daily and reserved seating. Similar to Cinerama, the showings required 3 projectors, a stereophonic sound system, and a large wall-to-wall curved screen.
Cinemiracle did not compete with Cinerama at the nearby Palace Theatre. The Palace opened with Cinerama in April 1962. By this time the Park had closed as a commercial movie theatre and soon became the property of the University of Tampa.
Just posted some ads for the “Windjammer” opening under the photos tab.
RRF: Thanks for this info. This is very interesting. I had no idea the Park had ever been renovated to compete with the Palace. I didn’t think the Park was large enough for the 3-projector process but maybe it was. “Windjammer” was in presented in Cinemiracle, a process very similar to Cinerama. I’d like to find the ad for “Windjammer” when it played here which should mention if the film was presented in Cinemiracle.
Remains of lot and screen tower in 1993.
That’s right Dan. Also the Citizens Building was right next door to the Florida Theatre which may have been called the Franklin Theatre at the time. It opened as the Florida and later became the Franklin and was then changed back to the Florida years later.
I checked the city directories for 1920-1929 and found a listing for “The Palace” under Sodas-Retail at 706 Franklin Street which places the fountain in the former Citizens Bank Building. The address for the Citizens Building is listed as 702-708 Franklin St. Strangely enough the fountain doesn’t appear under the listing for Soda Fountains in any directory.
Great photo! The Victory Theatre became the Palace on Christmas Day 1947. If memory serves me correctly I recall reading something about a Palace cafe/restaurant in Tampa. On my next visit to the library I’ll check the 1925 city directory since it lists addresses for all businesses. Will be interesting to see where this was located at.
Celeste, Thanks for the update. I had wondered what had become of this theatre. By placing your cursor over the image and sliding it towards the left you’ll see down N. Ft. Harrison. The theatre building is the second building from the corner on the right side painted either light brown or dark beige. I also followed the Google arrows down the side street to the rear of the building and the theatre exit doors are still visible at each end.
As I recall by the 1960s this theatre was under the same ownership as the Ritz in Tampa (Floyd Theatres as Chuck stated above) and both theatres were playing similar programs: double and triple features during the weekends. And both eventually became triple-X adult theatres.
As this theatre was not the Majestic the heading should be changed to Ritz Theatre.
Just posted the opening day ad. The Dolphin opened on December 25, 1969 with “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” and closed either on or just before December 13, 1981 with “Dr. Zhivago” as the closing attraction. Operated under ABC Florida State Theatres and later bought out by Plitt Theatres. The Dolphin was a first-run house for several years before reverting to and later closing as a second-run $1.00 theatre. Would love to see photos of the Dolphin which are evidently either very elusive or non-existent.
Archived editions of the St. Petersburg Times are available online and luckily include several of Tampa’s theatres in the daily time clock listings. This makes it easy researching playdates from home rather than making a trip to the library.
I just checked the Palace listings for “Mary Poppins” and found that the film opened on January 14, 1965 and ran through April 6, 1965 when it was moved over to the Florida Theatre to continue the long engagement. The move was due to “The Sound of Music” set to open at the Palace on April 7, 1965. So the “Mary Poppins”
engagement was after both “Mad Mad World” and “Circus World.”
Ad from the Tampa Tribune dated December 18, 1970.
Eyerock4ever: thanks for commenting! It very rare to see comments from former managers of Tampa area theatres. Oh yes, I remember the deviled crabs at the Seabreeze which for many years were probably the best in Tampa. I’ve always thought both the Auto Park and Tower Drive-Ins could still be open today since the land they were located on remain deserted and undeveloped, whereas the properties of all other former Tampa drive-ins have been redeveloped for other uses. No doubt it would be a risky venture, but someone with enough cash and true desire could rebuild both drive-ins on the same property where they once stood!
Correction to my post above: Additional research shows that during the run of “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” the Palace did not have single lens Cinerama installed as yet. The installation of 70mm projectors was made directly following this engagement.
Hey Mike, When the Hillsboro in Tampa was twinned in 1978 they installed Dolby Stereo in one twin. “SUPERMAN” was the opening attraction and the sound was fantastic…crisp sharp highs and deep low bass. The best I had ever heard in a theatre at the time (except for Cinerama 7 track stereo.) Though many will disagree I still believe the original Dolby Stereo sounded just as good as today’s high-tech state-of-the-art systems.
Several have said “2001” was a life changing experience for them but for me it’s been a lifelong love affair. I first saw “2001” at a Thursday matinee showing the day following the opening at the Palace in Tampa. From the start I was mesmerized by both the film and the music and I knew the audience and I were in for something truly extraordinary. I saw it again the following Saturday evening at a sold-out showing and many times since as well as purchasing the soundtrack album. Seeing the film in 70mm on a curved Cinerama screen is the only way to provide the viewer with the ultimate “2001” experience.
Just finished some additional research. I’m trying to determine exactly when the 3-projector Cinerama booth was stripped and replaced with 70mm Cinerama single lens projectors. I began a week-by-week search following the engagement of “How The West Was Won” and it appears the equipment was more than likely switched out the week beginning August 15, 1964.
Here’s the timeline:
“How The West Was Won” was the last 3-strip film to play. The run ends on November 21, 1963.
“Under The Yum Yum Tree” opens on November 22, 1963 (first 35mm attraction to play on the Cinerama screen) and runs through December 8, 1963.
Theatre closes on December 9, 1963 and remains closed through April 14, 1964 for a total of nearly 19 weeks without any published explanation given for the closure that I could find.
Theatre reopens on April 15, 1964 with “Cleopatra”
which runs through May 26, 1964.
Following the 19 week closure when the Palace reopened with “Cleopatra” I remember looking back towards the Cinerama booth and noticing no changes had been made to the portholes. “Cleopatra” was projected from the balcony booth.
“It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” opens on May 27, 1964 and runs through August 14, 1964. The film was also projected from the balcony booth.
Theatre closes once again on August 15, 1964 for a total of 6 days. I believe this is the week the equipment was switched out in preparation for the next attraction.
“Circus World” opens on August 21, 1964 in 70mm Cinerama. “Photographed in Super-Technirama 70” is included in the newspaper ads in addition to “presented in Cinerama.”
So “Circus World” was the first 70mm film to play at the Palace. “The Sound of Music” which would open about 8 months later would be the second 70mm attraction. After playing for several weeks it would be exchanged for a 35mm print.
Correction and update:
In my initial post of the Palace I incorrectly stated the closing year as 1976. Between 1976 and 1978 the Palace closed and reopened at least 3 times. I verified the final day of operation was September 29, 1978 with the double feature “It’s Alive” and “Five Fingers of Death” as the final program. On September 30, 1978 the Palace closed for good. The building was demolished in December 1979.
I have a friend who was a former “relief” operator who worked the booths for all of Tampa’s theatres and drive-ins. The local projectionists union would contact him whenever a projectionist had vacation or sick time off. Although he never worked any of the 3- strip Cinerama films at the Palace, he was contacted one afternoon to run a matinee showing of “2001” in 70mm. According to him the management at the Palace preferred the booth be manned by two projectionists for all 70mm showings at the time. He and another projectionist ran “2001” that afternoon. Unfortunately he couldn’t recall if the 70mm projectors were capable of conversion to 35mm or not.
According to him the projectors in the balcony booth were definitely 35mm as he worked that booth many times. All attractions he ran were optical sound but he didn’t remember if those projectors had magnetic stereo heads. Under the photos tab above (on the second page) the opening day ad for “The Robe” mentions CinemaScope Stereophonic Sound so the film was in fact presented in stereo. I would guess more than likely the heads were either removed after the engagement had ended or possibly they were still attached but no longer functioning. Having seen “IAMMMMW” at least 3 times at the Palace I also do not recall the film having stereo sound—I think this proves no doubt it was 35mm optical. Also your friend having seen IAMMMMW in 70mm and noticing several scenes were missing from the print projected at the Palace is proof in itself that the Palace was running a 35mm print. I would sincerely doubt any cuts would have been made if the Palace was running a 70mm roadshow print.
Just yesterday I was browsing through the theatre ads in the St. Petersburg Times (available online) and I came across an article published around the opening date of “This Is Cinerama” at the Palace. The article highlights the rennovations made and states that the Palace was in fact a Super Cinerama Theatre—the only one in the state of Florida. I had read somewhere that “Super Cinerama” were theatres with enormous wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screens—larger than standard Cinerama theatres—and projection booths constructed on the main level center section. It’s nice to know the Palace was one of these.
Thanks again, I enjoyed your second post. What a coincidence—I also saw “The Fox” at the Palace! Yes it’s a shame the 3-strip process only lasted a few years. I saw all the 3-strip films as well as the 70mm attractions. As I recall “Grand Prix” was the first single-lens Cinerama film to play at the Palace. The film was advertised with the tagline “the new Cinerama” although I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was unaware at the time that single-lens had replaced 3-strip. Before the film began I looked back towards the booth and saw the three glass projection panels had been replaced by two larger ones. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and was anxious for the film to begin and see what this “new Cinerama” was all about. When the film began and the curtain cleared the screen I noticed the masking had been repositioned inward on each side shortening the image by several feet. That “in-the-picture” feeling was practically lost. TIC in 70mm was so disappointing. The image was slightly grainy and the vibrant & brilliant color of the 3-strip process was gone. I remember an elderly lady (obviously familiar with the 3-strip films) was sitting behind me at the showing. During intermission she turned to her companion and gesturing with her hand she said, “the picture use to come clear around from that end of the screen to this end of the screen over here-—I don’t believe those guys up there know what their doing!” It took awhile for me to become accustomed to the single-lens process and by the time “2001” opened I had accepted it. Regardless of the shortcomings it was still the largest screen of any theatre in town.
I was always fascinated with the Cinerama strip screen. Many times when the movie ended and the curtain closed I’d go behind the curtain on the left side and slowly edge my way up to the strips near the masking. Since I was walking on a slight incline behind the curtain where the floor meets the screen I had to be careful not to loose my balance and fall out under the curtain onto the floor. When I reached the side masking I touched the strips putting my hand between and through them being careful not to damage them. In addition to being anchored at the floor and ceiling I don’t recall if they were also anchored at the mid-section. On the right side of the screen behind the curtain and just beyond the exit door there were three or four steps leading up to an open doorway and onto the original large backstage area. Several feet behind the Cinerama screen stood the huge CinemaScope screen still sitting in place. It looked massive. Also hanging high up in the fly loft was another smaller screen which I think was probably the screen installed when the theatre was renovated and renamed the Palace in 1947.
Thanks for mentioning something I hadn’t been able to figure out for years. When the engagement of “HTWWW” ended the Palace opened “Under the Yum Yum Tree” which ran for maybe 2 or 3 weeks. Afterwards the theatre closed for a period of time reopening with “Cleopatra” as I recall. I’ve always wondered what the reason was for the closure. As you mentioned it was for the installation of the 70mm single-lens system. So I would venture to guess the very first 70mm attraction the Palace played was “The Sound of Music” in 1965.
I remember the programs for sale during the Cinerama attractions. The ushers carried them around while directing patrons to their reserved seats. Interestingly the Palace management never had guys as ushers during the reserved seat attractions. They always had young ladies.
I recall Regal booking art films on at least one if not more screens towards the beginning. But whether or not it was their intention to split art film product with another theatre I can’t say although you can be certain it wasn’t the Tampa Theatre. When Channelside first opened in 2000 an article was published in the Tribune on the opening of the new Channelside Cinemas. Regal’s management said they would be in contact with the Tampa Theatre’s director/film booker to work together in booking art and foreign films. Regal stated it wasn’t their intention or desire to compete nor steal away neither the Tampa’s art films or its audience.
Several days later a letter from the Tampa Theatre’s director appeared in the Tribune’s “letter to the editor” column stating that Regal had never contacted him nor did he expect them to. He stated that Regal’s only concern is monetary and that the new theatre’s close proximity to Tampa Theatre could very well be a serious threat to the Tampa’s existence. He cited a similiar situation had occured in another city when that city’s only historic theatre was forced to close due to competition from a new multiplex that had opened nearby. Warning that the threat was very real, the tone of his letter displayed a bit of animosity towards Regal. And today we know who the survivor is.
Goodness! Frank Theatres barely lasted 10 months? There was some hope the reopening would eventually expand with several enhancements beginning with an upgrade to digital projection and later stadium seating which would hopefully have been the catalyst for a rebirth of the mall. Wonder if they even made the first priority upgrade to digital? Assuming the rumors are true concerning demolition—University Mall will soon be 39 years old come this November—an amazing feat as far as malls go these days. I’m sorry to see the theatres are history now. I have some good memories of the former University Square Cinemas I II III & IV.
Thomas, Since opening in 1949 this theatre has always been called the Dale Mabry Drive-In. Tampa has never had a theatre called Apollo although there is a city called Apollo Beach several miles from Tampa. Maybe you’re thinking of a theatre in that area? Although the Dale Mabry probably did run all the Planet of the Apes films on one evening so it may have been this drive-in you saw them at.