AMC Orleans 8

2247 Bleigh Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19152

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Showing 76 - 100 of 145 comments

TheaterBuff1 on March 2, 2006 at 10:22 pm

So what is the latest on the AMC Orleans? Is it now an is or was?

HowardBHaas on January 28, 2006 at 6:59 am

It is my impression that customers don’t have a hard time finding WalMart and Target stores, which serve themselves as showrooms. Those companies neither need to, nor will, ensure a future for the Orleans.

TheaterBuff1 on January 27, 2006 at 11:53 pm

In response to the gentleman who currently heads up the organization to restore the Boyd — and whom I have nothing but the highest regards for for his having helped save it from demolition — now that the Boyd Theatre’s fate is in good hands as he’s been assuring us, I hope his group is doing everything it can to see that it gets the historic designation it rightfully deserves.

Meantime, the Orleans Theatre is a different type theater entirely, in that it holds sentimental rather than historic value. Add to this that it’s a sentimental value that exists at this moment almost entirely in memories of long long ago.

As long long ago demonstrated, it has the power to instill sentimental values, but only when run properly. And that has clearly not been the case with regard to the Orleans ever since it split itself up into smaller theaters.

But I think it would be very naive to try to suggest that if the Orleans original theater portion were to be spared the wrecking ball, restored to a single-screen theater once more, and run very well — that is, easily affordable ticket and concession stand prices, no commercials exhibited in addition to movies, a polite staff, and so on — that consumers would avoid that theater like it’s the plague. But to understand this, you have to be able to think like the consumer does. For there’s such a thing as taking supply-side economic theory too far. Do that, and the AMC Orleans 8 Theatre story as we’re seeing it now is the end result.

Unless they’re run as charities, unlike how it is with many other businesses, movie theaters cannot be run in and of themselves. And likewise they can be of little to no benefit to others when this is the case, whether it be to the City, Hollywood, or whoever. When left to totally fend for themselves, they become far more a detriment than a benefit.

And that’s exactly what we did see with the AMC Orleans 8 in most recent times.

But to go ahead and tear it down completely is not the right answer. Rather, we should look back to when it was a major asset, and then provide rational explanations why, if it were made that way again, it could not become such a major asset anew. For I argue that if it was made that way again that theater would do very very well. But it can’t become the theater it once was again if those who stand to benefit from its being operated in that way refuse to provide their fair support of it. To quote the man who currently heads up the organization restoring the Boyd, that is unrealistic. Whoever’s to benefit must pay their fair share. Otherwise, it’s clearly a no go.

Now whether it’s to be a Wal*Mart or a Target store that’s to be taking over that site, whoever it’s to be could foot the entire bill of restoring and covering its day-to-day operations in such a way so that on their behalf it could serve as a major showroom for their products, ranging from carpeting to tile to curtains to toilets to DVDs they sell of movies being exhibited there and so on and so forth. And it could all be done very tastefully. In fact, the more tastefully, the better for whichever retailer is taking over that site. And is what I’m suggesting realistic? Of course it’s realistic, but its success depends upon the intelligence level of whoever the retailer is going to be. For if that much is totally lacking then I would say yes, it’s unrealistic to suggest the Orleans can be saved. It’s fate will match up with the other Orleans of note…

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on January 27, 2006 at 9:26 pm

Eddie, we missed you at Neshaminy 24 today, being it was the first day taking passes from Loews Cineplex.

Eddiej1984 on January 27, 2006 at 8:52 pm

Indeed mike
Here is a comparison picture of the orleans then and now.
View link

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on January 27, 2006 at 8:20 pm

Eddie, It’s a cool looking picture of the AMc Orleans 8 when it was conceived as Goldman’s Orleans Theatre. also today, AMC now has the former Loews Cherry Hill 24 Theatre.

Eddiej1984 on January 27, 2006 at 7:04 pm

View link
just copy and paste taht and it comes up. nice looking
also tonight the AMC Orelans sign on the marquee was off.

kencmcintyre on January 27, 2006 at 4:50 pm

Your link did not work. Can you try it again?

kencmcintyre on January 27, 2006 at 4:49 pm

Your link did not work. Can you try it again?

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on January 27, 2006 at 2:29 pm

Artist’s rendering of Orleans Theatre before opening.

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HowardBHaas on January 26, 2006 at 7:03 pm

Thank you for your kind comments about the Boyd Theatre. The City did not feel “compelled to maintain its grandeur.” Three owners in a row fought historic designation. With designation denied, and the theater closed, and the owner obtaining a demolition permit, the Art Deco showplace appeared doomed. I organized the Committee to Save the Sameric, and later, the Friends of the Boyd, and countless hours later, the Boyd, under new ownership, will reopen, and the Friends of the Boyd continue to assist for a comprehensive restoration, and a program to include films, public tours, and exhibits of the theater’s history.

As to the Orleans, I think you are correct. I went to see it as after it had been divided. From what I know, the Cine Capri was nicer.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on January 26, 2006 at 6:53 pm

This letter was written to TheatreBuff1, whose real name was deleted out of privacy concerns for him. I felt a need to share this letter with other film / theatre buffs within this site. We all share a similar passion for theatres and the history surrounding them.

Dear ****,

A source informed me that the new tenant for that land will be Target, not Wal-Mart.

AMC lost their lease so they no longer have a dog in that fight.
In my mind, the Orleans has an a special place in my heart due to my own relationship with the building going back to 1967. Having said that, I never did think of the Orleans as having the same unique theatre lineage as the grand cathedrals of old.
It is my opinion that the Orleans represented a new era of theatre architecture that eliminated the “useless” facades, interior murals, sweeping prosceniums and bold touches of any number of ancient architecture in exchange for a more utilitarian, functional appeal. The Orleans was one large box with seats and a large screen. It was movie exhibition reduced to its essence.

Here in Phoenix, a similar theatre as the Orleans in every way was torn down over a lot of community objections. Ironically, the last movie to play the was Titanic. I saw only one movie, Storm Troopers, at this theatre, The Cine Capri, and, ****, you would have seen the many similarities to the Orleans. This theatre was, like “The Big O”, was built in the early sixties, had one screen, about as many seats as the original Orleans, had a gold curtain like the Orleans, even the exterior had the same flavor. The outside walls had the same kind of mosaic tile as the Orleans.

My God, there were editorials in the paper, letters to the editor trashing the theatre owner’s decision to raze the theatre but all for naught. The theatre had to go, it stood in the middle of the most desirable and expensive commercial real estate within Arizona. The area is known as the Biltmore Area and you can probably Google it, along with the old Cine Capri theatre.

I think the Boyd Theatre is a worthy cause. Any sizable city lucky enough to have a theatre, such as the Boyd still standing, should feel compelled to maintain its grandeur. I have a few books on theatre history, , including Irvin Glazer’s Philadelphia Theaters. No picture in a book can do justice or give praise like actually being inside one of these monumental shrines to the motion picture. It’s like seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon over your lifetime and finally seeing it for real. There’s no comparison, it’s like never having seen those pictures of the Grand Canyon in your entire life. All I could say to people after having been to the Grand Canyon for the first time was that it was looking at the face of God. Some people seen viewing the canyon are actually seen crying over it’s beauty. Well, I ,and I’m sure you, , feel the same way about historical theatres. So, yes, there should and must be a preservation of a slice of our American culture that pays tribute to the great architects who created a dream environment into which people would enter to view a dream scape of a far off land, leaving their worries at the “palace gate” for those few hours.

****, I get goose bumps and tear up when I see film montages that bestow praise on the movie industry over many years in just a few minutes. These tributes act to reinforce how truly important movies are in our culture. Usually, Chuck Workman will have something put together for the academy awards, some sort of homage to the industry or actor or actress life in film. This is our culture. Movies are the mile markers of our lives. Where was I in my personal life when I saw Patton at the Orleans in 1970? Where was I when I saw PT 109 at the Tower in 1963? Who was I dating when I saw Alfie ? I never did get to see The Sting on that rainy March night as I sat in the car in the parking lot of the Eric Pennsauken Theatre with my long time girlfriend. That was the night she broke my heart and told me she found someone else. Boy, talk about getting “stung”! I remember vividly coming out into the afternoon sunshine, shaking after having just witnesing the carnage of Bonnie And Clyde at the Goldman Theatre on October 12, 1967. It was Columbus Day and I cut school to see the movie I had been waiting for since reading about these two law breakers at the Northeast Library in the summer of 1965.
Bonnie And Clyde was a first that I could recall that portrayed violence and bloodshed in as real a way as could be done at the time. One thought I had, as I rubbed my wet palms together leaving the theatre was how could anybody ever consider leading a life of crime after seeing that movie.

Yeah, ****, movies not only can be memorable on their own but they help us to relive the times, good or bad, of days gone by, to sort of give our lives dimension, fill in the blanks and add perspective. Movies, for better or worse, have influenced and shaped our character to a degree. We found our heros on the screen and the kind of girl we wished to marry, the kind of people to stay away from and on and on.

Movies have a place in our lives and I believe the places they appeared have a place in our lives, as well.


HowardBHaas on January 26, 2006 at 6:22 pm

Ok, great, if we are in fantasyland, maybe for Christmas, Santa Claus can bring a magnificient single screen movie palace to the area!! And, maybe he can stand in front and let everybody in for free and give them super cheap refreshments! Why not?

Or, if we want to live in the real world, and if we are lucky, a new stadium seat multiplex might arise somewhere in the area if the Orleans closes. Otherwise, people will need to travel some distance to a movie theater.

TheaterBuff1 on January 23, 2006 at 11:10 pm

And yet…

I believe all of us can readily agree that the original main portion of the Orleans Theatre building should be kept standing and made a single-screen movie theater once more. That is, a single-screen theater where concession stand and ticket prices are kept low, and no commercials are ever shown. Surely there’s not a single one of us who would object to that, is there? And Wal*Mart could subsidize it’s operation. For hey, seriously, why the heck not?

Eddiej1984 on January 22, 2006 at 11:53 pm

Now the latest news is that the AMC Orleans, hollywood bistro and the strip with pep boys, jo ann fabrics and other stores will be demolished in the fall, to make way for a Wal*Mart (sigh, I wouldve liked a Target)

Eddiej1984 on December 19, 2005 at 8:11 pm

Very very nice hughie.

TheaterBuff1 on December 18, 2005 at 8:30 pm

Great review on the Orleans Theatre, Hughie! I saw several films there back when it was single-screen, Oliver!, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and my favorite one of all, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines! I never saw any films there after they began splitting it up into smaller theaters, but from the way you describe it, I consider myself lucky for that!

One point of curiosity, my distinctly recalling that its stage had curtains – and light brown ones if my memory serves me correctly – when they showed Gone With the Wind there in its original 4:3 format, why couldn’t they have done it so the curtains were only opened up as much as necessary?

Now as for what you say about digital cinema projection systems, which I’m a firm believer in, it’s not too expensive for a theater to switch over to if making money is not that theater’s bottom line. Keep in mind that for expensive as it is that it’s a onetime expense. So that allows for a lot flexibility.

As for the disappearing of movie theaters, I regard that as wishful thinking on Hollywood’s part. And the reason why has to do with how unstoppable piracy threatens Hollywood’s whole fiscal future if it’s banking everything on that. It has absolutely got to get behind the theaters again if it hopes to survive, it has no other choice. And while that’s wishful thinking on theater operators' parts, the big difference is it’s wishful thinking with a whole lot of substance behind it. For if Hollywood can’t make money, Hollywood can’t produce movies. And if Hollywood can’t produce movies, where does that leave home theater? The only exception is network television because it can run commercials. But you see how quality suffers with network television given the restrictive and dictatorial powers advertisers have. Which may enable Hollywood to survive, but at the same time it will make home theater a lot less attractive than you describe it. And keep in mind that computer games are a major threat to home theater…

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on December 17, 2005 at 6:13 pm

The Orleans Theatre celebrated its grand opening with a dinner hosted by William Goldman at the Philmont Country Club at 6:00 P.M. and opening ceremonies at the theatre at *:00 P.M. on Wednesday, May 15, 1963.

There were 1,862 seats in the single auditorium. The screen dimensions were 30 ‘ X 63 ‘ and the length of throw from the lens was 181 feet. In the flat format, the picture size was 27X46 feet, in 70MM it was 27X60 feet and in 70MM scope, it was 26X62 feet.

The lamp hose was a Super Cinex High Intensity Arc Projection Lamp manufactured by Ashcroft Co, Inc of Long Island New York.

The projector heads were Norelco 35/70 manufactured by North American Phillips Co.

This particular model projector had the unique quality in that it could operate at 30 frames per second and was explicitly designed for the movie “Oklahoma” which was shot at 30 fps.

The two Norelco projectors were in full operation up until the time that AMC replaced them in 1993. The last 70MM film to play was Dick Tracy.

The first movie to open the Orleans was “The Day Of Wine And Roses”.

During the time it was a Goldman Theatre, the Orleans was considered the flagship of the small, but prestigious Goldman chain. No other theatre outside the downtown area came close to the quality of the sound, picture size, projection equipment and comfort of the Orleans. Keep in mind, most theatres outside the center city area were, by then, older “neighborhood” second run theatre has-beens.

Experiencing a movie like The Dirty Dozen was spectacular for its astounding visual and sound experience. The speakers were behind the perforated walls of the auditorium and during the battle scenes one would vibrate in their seat as the sound of artillery shells came ripping down the sides of the long auditorium walls, ending with their “landing” on the screen with a heart stopping blast. The Dirty Dozen was presented in 70Mm six track stereophonic sound. This meant that there were literally six magnetic strips of tape on the film. Each strip of tape was dedicated to its own function for , say, voice, sound effects, music, incidental sounds and so on. The sound of a magnetic track was, at the time, the truest way to capture the actual studio master mix of the original sound that the director intended.

One unforgettably outstanding film experience was watching 2001 A Space Odyssey for the first time. The film has not been viewed until it has been viewed on a 26X62 foot screen. Another beautifully presented visual treat was David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago. In 1967, Gone With The Wind was re-released in select markets. The Orleans hosted this wonderful historical extravaganza to the delight of all who came to see it. The prints were re-struck and the sound track was reproduced from the original master studio track. The aspect ratio of the movie was shown in its original 4:3 format. This meant that the image was a square in the middle of the screen and a lot of empty screen on both sides of the image However, the luxurious cinematography, shot in technicolor, and the breathtaking Max Steiner musical score left no patron with a feeling that they lacked anything in their experience as they left the theatre.

In a couple of years, economics took a front row seat in changing the once vast landscape of the large auditorium. In Kansas City, Missouri, a man named Stan Durwood purchased some retail space in a mall where he wished to make into a theatre. The year was 1963 and through happenstance, Mr. Durwood chose to purchase the space next door to his recently purchased store and saw possibilities. Why not make two theatres and separate them by a wall? Stan Sourwood was the first to create the ubiquitous “Twin” theatre that would catch fire across the country. Why not? thought theatre owners. It was a no-brainer. Take an existing theatre and cut it in half so that concession stand activity was increased and owners didn’t feel the pain of being stuck with a dog for the entire six or eight weeks. Stan Durwood was the classic showman. He lived in a modest home and drove a Nissan, a car way beneath what his actual status might normally call for. He died of cancer in the late 1999 and, oh I almost forgot, he was the CEO of AMC Theatres. His father Ed Durwood founded Durwood Theatres in 1920 and in years to come Stan took over the operation upon his father’s death and the chain was renamed American Multi Cinema.. It is now a worldwide chain with theatres in a number of countries.

So, following in the footsteps of other theatre owners, Goldman Theatres twinned the Orleans and it opened as The Orleans Twin Theatres on May 24, 1972. The opening attractions on May 24 were Cabaret and Woody Allan’s Play It Again Sam. Also, at this time, the William Goldman sold his beloved chain to another smaller operation named Budco Theatres. The “Budco” name was derived from the theatre chain’s owner, Earl Schlanger, who was fondly called Buddy as a child.

The two auditoriums had approximately 950 seats each upon being twinned. Employees and patron who were used to the massive screen width were stunned to watch a movie in what became known disparagingly as a bowling alley. The screen image just didn’t look or feel right when watching a movie. Gone were the days of the wide screen experience.

In 1977, Budco decided to add two more auditoriums to the existing building. From this point on, there was little thought to amenities. Just put up the walls and throw up a screen it’s a numbers game now, baby. In 1984, Budco purchased the Pathmark grocery store behind the Orleans and created four more auditoriums.

In the spring of 1987, AMC Theatres bought out Budco Theatres and once again, the Orleans went through somewhat of an incarnation. Money was sunk into new concession stands, seats were pulled to make leg room more comfortable, auditoriums were repainted and a new HVAC unit was installed on the roof.

Truthfully speaking, the Orleans was a grand old lady and it’s not her fault that indecision about her future has made her appear a little rough around the edges today. Will the company close her down or should we infuse a lot of cash to upgrade her. Why do an extreme make over when we may close the theatre down in a year or so, we could be putting that money into a theatre that we know is going to be around a lot longer. There were plans by AMC in the early 90’s to create a twelve screen complex utilizing the current location. The layout was to have a number of screens in the original building in which the screens would be along a wall facing the Bustleton Ave. side. Then, there would be a number of screens in another series of auditoriums with the screens along the walls facing Bleigh Street. The projection booth would run straight down the middle of what would be above the rear of all the auditoriums. One obstacle stood in the way: the residents in the surrounding neighborhood. The were strong in their opposition to, yet even more, parking and loud youths going to their cars and racing down the street in front of their homes.

The expansion plan collapsed. Perhaps, more life can be breathed into the old girl but in reality, I think, the movie theatre as we know it will be gone in a few short years, just like the wide screens, balconies and smoking section of theatres. The digital age is showing no mercy on the antiquated platform of 35MM film snaking through a projector. Certainly, some theatres are installing digital projection systems but at an estimated one hundred thousand dollars per auditorium, theatre owners are not in a hurry to upgrade.

My thoughts on this are a gradual disappearing of movie theatres replaced by the home theatre and only a couple of movie venues per city. With the sophisticated home theatre systems coming on the market today, one can reproduce the same sound and better image quality of your favorite multiplex, minus the crying babies, cell phones ringing, high ticket and concession prices, rude customers kicking your seat, paying a baby sitter, paying for parking , and you can enjoy all of it in your pajamas.

TheaterBuff1 on December 16, 2005 at 7:46 pm

Happy to oblige, and looking forward to your comments and the picture!

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on December 15, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Thank you, Theaterbuff1, appreciate the tip!

TheaterBuff1 on December 14, 2005 at 7:46 pm


Just type your comments in the “Comment*” box below and when you do be sure to include a link to a website containing the photograph you’d like everyone to see.

When you get done, press “Submit” and there ya go!

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on December 13, 2005 at 6:48 pm

Dear Orleans Theatre archivists, I’d like to add comments along with a picture. How can i do this?

Thanks, Hughie

TheaterBuff1 on December 9, 2005 at 8:45 pm

Meantime, to you, Eddie, if you like being subjected to commercials while you’re at the movie theater, that’s fine, and the AMC Orleans 8 from the sounds of things is custom made for you. And it would indeed be a dictatorship we’re living under if you didn’t have that free choice. At the same time it still comes down to its being a dictatorship we’re living under if we have no choice other than that. And most people I feel quite certain prefer not seeing commercials when at the movies. But there’s no way of knowing that for sure right now with the AMC Orleans 8 being the only theater right in this area at the moment. And this not being the result of free enterprise or laissez faire from what I can see, or even deregulation for that matter, but through deliberate government action blocking that which is far better from coming to the surface. And my argument is, take that dictatorial governmental activity away, and the AMC Orleans 8 the way it’s now being run wouldn’t last another day.

So all told, it’s hard to believe, surreal actually, that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where this theater is located, is where this country’s liberty once was born. For it’s hardly a free city now, when thousands upon thousands of Northeast Philadelphians have to choose between that crappily run theater or nothing when they’d just like to be able to go out and take in a nice movie nearby once in a while. and that’s the only monstrosity they can look to around here for such. And it really really is starting to get very embarrassing!

TheaterBuff1 on December 9, 2005 at 7:58 pm

In reply to Eddie Jacobs, I couldn’t have put it better than Gabby just did. Thanks, Gabby!