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What are the other retail tenants there now? Is it still Bath & Body Works (on the 72 St corner), a yuppie sneaker shop and Vicki’s place (next door to Loews)?
I think the lease is up for renewal. I seem to recall back around 2000 there was great uncertainty surrounding the question of renewing the lease or letting the place go. At the 11th hour Loews signed on for another term of 10 years.
To me it makes little sense to close this theatre, since due to zoning restrictions they can’t build a new 35-plex across the street, even if the property was available. Zoning was changed in the early 1980s to say no new theatres may be built and existing theatres may not add any square-footage in the area bounded by 57th St to 79th St., 1st Ave to 5th Ave. So, in light of the restrictions, I would think they would want to maintain their presence in the area.
The theatre will make money but they can’t just play just any rubbish there like they can on 86th St. It requires a mix of more upscale general release films and foreign product. It also requires a film booker to actually know his theatres, histories and the demographics of the area where they are located. A booker of a place with 25 or 30 screens can use the booking theory of “throw enough sh*t against a wall and some of it will stick”.
The large national circuits are owned by private equity investment firms as well as many of the regional chains and have purged all the theatre people from their ranks. The financial people are running the show these days, micro-managing everything from the home office. History, tradition and common sense have been thrown in the trash. Nothing matters but the bottom line.
Oh yeah, you’re right! And I commented there too. How did I miss that? I guess the Alzheimer’s is setting in.
I regret to announce that the Walmart of the theatre business from Kansas City has decided the last day of operations for the Loews Tower East 72nd St will be Thursday December 9, 2010, as per CT member astrocks. Unknown at this time if the place will be offered to another tenant for use as a theatre or gutted for retail use.
Is it closed? I went past there the other day and the marquee was lit up and had titles on it, I don’t remember what they were though.
I thought BBKings was part of the E-Walk complex and newly built. Or is it possible that the old Harem porno theatre was incorporated into the new building?
Actually, I’m looking at the picture in the Harcourt book with a magnifying glass and it quite clearly says ‘Thick Cabinets’. It’s a different photo than the one in Boxoffice, it is a photo of the building with signs on the edge of the roof. Is that another term for Frappe? For instance, carbonated soft drinks, i.e. Pepsi, in the midwest is called ‘Pop’, in NYC it’s called ‘Soda’ and my relatives in Worcester MA called it ‘Tonic’. I thought this might be another regional term that goes by other names in other areas.
dwodeyla, in a photo of Richards Drive-In in the Harcourt General book, the sign lists their specialties: Fried Jumbo Shrimp, Chicken-in-the-basket and Thick Cabinets. I guess it’s a New England thing, but what are Thick Cabinets?
Yes – we read the gas meter and electric meters – every day – during the so-called energy crisis in 77-78. That year we had a big blizzard, snow several feet deep, wind 100 mph – transportation was at a standstill – the theatres didn’t open – all the managers in the area got a call at home from someone in the home office telling us to go to the theatre and shovel the snow off the roof. Apparently there was a theatre someplace where the weight of the snow made the roof cave in. I told them they were out of their minds, that everything was covered with ice and the wind was 100 mph, and I’m NOT going up on the roof. I was told I didn’t have to, just put a couple of ushers up there. I hung up on them. I figured the building was insured by the mall. Not only did the roof not cave in, when the blizzard subsided I did go up there and found very little snow, because the heavy wind had blown it all off.
You’re welcome. Another old ‘GCC dawg’ here, too!
BTW, I should have mentioned above that those other operations of the company were located primarily in the northeast and midwest. I remember as a kid the Peter Pan Snack Shops were, in the pre-McDonald’s era, comparable to Bob’s Big Boy or Denny’s without the in-car service. While there were none around me I’ve seen photos of Richard’s Drive-In and it appeared to be an early fast-food type of place – the sign says Fried Jumbo Shrimp, Twinburgers, Chicken-in-a-Basket and Thick Cabinets – whatever that may be.
dwodeyla, do you know if the change from the company’s long-time architectural firm, Riseman Associates, to the Cambridge Seven group was due to the retirement or passing of Riseman or Joe Saunders (just speculating – I don’t know exactly when, in the scheme of things, those events happened.) or was it a ‘out with the old – in with the new’ type of decision once Paul Del Rossi ascended the throne?
Do you know approximately when Riseman became involved with the company? I see he isn’t credited with this theatre, the original architect here is Ben Schlanger. Mr Schlanger was a consulting architect on the Cinema I – Cinema II in New York (theatre #1075 on this site), opened in 1962. That theatre had the same ‘shadow box’ screen surrounds, the upper cinema was lit red, the lower cinema lit blue, and the gray Alpro paneling on the walls, elements used by General Cinema through the 1960s and 70s.
Riseman designed all the General Cinema operations from about the early to mid-1950s through the late-1970s, when he either retired or passed. In the early days Smith Management/General Drive-In/General Cinema operated bowling alleys, Amy Joy Donut Shops, Peter Pan Snack Shop, Richard’s Drive-In restaurants as well as the drive-in and indoor theatres, everything built by the company, or remodeled after acquisition from others was the work of the Riseman firm, located in Boston. Riseman also did a lot of theatre work for Sumner Redstone/National Amusements, also headquartered in Boston.
Right up until they were vacuumed up by amc in 2006, Loew’s wasn’t shy about letting people know who was managing their theaters. A point of negotiation with the merger, amc let the Loews name remain on the New York City theatres, because A.) Loews has had operations and headquarters there since the earth cooled, and B.) as a half-hearted acknowledgment that Loews had a more storied past than they do.
They did this crap with the Hanna, too. Reduced the seating, transforming it into a type of performance space that will prove to be just a passing fad. In another 10 years traditional proscenium theatres will be back in vogue and the Great Lakes Shakespeare group will be moaning the space no longer meets their needs, and want a larger seating capacity. The difference is that the Hanna was fairly run down, whereas the Allen just underwent a multi-million dollar restoration. If they had proposed this plan while the Allen was still a dump, before the restoration, you could sort of breathe a sigh of relief and say well at least they are trying too save it from complete deterioration, but the theatre is no longer in desperate straits, condition-wise. That the Cleveland Playhouse has to reduce the seating to only 500 proves that they are really only a small-time production company, little more than a community theater group, lacking the artistic vision to come up with quality entertainment that would properly utilize a Class-A facility. I’m sure they could come up with a couple of benefactors to build them a small performance space that would suit their needs in one of the multitude of vacant retail spaces along Euclid Ave.
What will happen if, after the economy rebounds, more of the Broadway shows start touring again? Playhouse Square will regret their decision to let this venue be so drastically butchered. They should come up with a plan to partition the existing space that will preserve the architecture in a way that can be easily un-done to restore its present configuration, in the event The Cleveland Playhouse goes belly-up.
Once upon a time, the Playhouse Square Association used to literally beg for money, with all the unpaid staff, myself included, standing at the exits of the Palace Theatre with overturned straw hats begging for loose change from the exiting Lola Falana or Peggy Lee audience, like bums on Times Square. Now, apparently, they have cash laying around in closets and piled up in the corners. It wasn’t too long ago they spent a boatload of money to restore this beautiful theatre. and now they are going to let CSU and the Cleveland Playhouse come in and destroy it? They have forgotten that their founders vision was to RESTORE the theatres grand architecture, but I guess now they are just another business enterprise that has thrown their founding principles under the bus. It’s outrageous. Cleveland State should install an auditorium on their campus and stay over there. But the board of trustees of Cleveland Playhouse ought to be ashamed of itself. First, they sell the Playhouse building at 86th and Euclid, a beautiful building designed in the early 1980s by renowned architect and native son Phillip Johnson (probably the only example of his work in the area) to the Cleveland Clinic who will most likely demolish it to make room for more medical facilities or parking garages. And then, to compound the damage and destruction they do, they come into Playhouse Square, take over a beautiful theatre that doesn’t suit their needs and wreck and reconfigure it into something they can work with and eliminate 2000 seats. There are plenty of large vacant spaces in the area where they could build a schlock little 500 seat room with a stage, as great architecture obviously means nothing to them. The whole sordid plan is a travesty. These theatres need to be landmarked somehow, maybe by the state.
Not for nothin', but isn’t that Rocky stuff getting a little old? Thirty years ago it was sort of an amusing way to spend one or two uneventful Saturday nights, but time marches on and most people grow up. Are the same ‘performers’ still ‘performing’ along with the film? Do their walkers and canes get in the way?
That candy stand is Chestnut Hill, not sure about the sign. I seem to remember that it had the “CINEMA” in red neon letters above the attraction board. When I saw it the theatre was still relatively new and only had 2 screens. Maybe they changed the signage after it was reconfigured into a 5-plex. “dwodeyla” will know, as he worked there at one time. We will await his opinion.
Did General Cinema ever operate this theatre? In the linked photos, the neon “CINEMA” letters above the marquee are the same red serif-style letters that they used. In the photo of the lobby it shows the white Formica auditorium door with the off-center slit window, and white Formica candy stand with pendant lights which were also common in General Cinema houses of the 1960-70 era. In the mirror behind the stand you can see the blue vinyl wallpaper above the archways opposite. In those days it was not unheard of for them to go into a new market, buy or lease an older existing theatre, split it, do some limited renovations and change the signage.
The stonework looks very good. It had been covered with paint long before City Cinemas renovated it into a plex. The question is: How long will it remain unpainted? The lower portions of the building were always a canvas for the local graffiti artists. Before the renovation was complete in 1990, the security shutters on the windows on the n.e. corner and the 3 storefronts on the south end were completely covered with the work of the neighborhood “artists” less than 24 hours after they were installed. At that time the neighborhood was in the process of being yuppified, but is it much better now?
In the photo posted by Al, you can see that the lot next to the Quad has been cleared for construction of the 84th sixplex.
What were they doing with the seats, throwing them in a dumpster, or carefully loading them into a truck?
The original entrance in the mall looked very similar to that of the Randall Park Cinema, but without the big stairway, though maybe there were 2 or 3 steps, my recollection is a little fuzzy on that. It was narrow, with an un-enclosed box office sitting in the middle. Further into the lobby, the concession stand was on the right side of the room and the auditorium entrances on the left. Between the theatre entrance and the mall entrance that faced Ridge Rd. there were maybe 3 very small stores, maybe only 10-15 feet deep because they were backed up against the side wall of the auditorium. One of the stores sold medieval armor kind of stuff. I was there when they delivered the safe – before the roof was put on the building, they lifted the safe with a crane and set it in place where the office would be built.
You can buy a reproduction (albeit smaller) of the original artichoke chandeliers that they ripped out of the upper lobby of Cinema I. They can be ordered in the original copper finish, or white. Have your credit card ready… :)