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Just updated the street view although it took me awhile to locate the drive-in. Based on the address in the header Google maps the location at least a couple miles from the drive-in. I was finally able to locate the site based on the info furnished by jwmovies – thanks!
falcon3147, Great hearing from a former employee. I had applied for a job at both the drive-in and the new indoor in 1969 but they never called me. The drive-in and the rocking chair theatre were Tampa’s best showplaces at the time. I wish they were both still here. Yes, the indoor theatre had its grand opening with “The Undefeated.” A beautiful theatre that lasted about 9 years before it was ruined by twinning.
hispeed54, Appreciate the nice comment…thanks!
Just did some research on this theatre. It opened as the Playhouse Theatre in August of 1935. The last day of operation as a standard theatre was on September 6, 1966. It remained closed until October 12, 1966 when it reopened as the Playhouse Adult Theatre. It finally closed for good on May 22, 1973.
I didn’t see any ads for a Reno Theatre around the time the Playhouse opened. Since Andy has found evidence of a Reno Theatre either at or near this location a search of the 1933 ads will hopefully clear this up.
I’ll post a few ads from the Playhouse shortly.
Thanks John! Enjoyed reading your post. Great hearing from an employee of the Florida. Seldom do former employees of area theatres post comments. I remember the Weeki-Wachee promotions the downtown theatres would always run either before or after the feature. That was certainly a nice gesture on the part of Florida State Theatres to allow the Weeki-Wachee girls in for half-price admission. I’m sure the girls appreciated that! Thanks again for commenting.
In researching the closing date of the Capitol I found the theatre had changed names twice. January 5 1965 was the theatre’s final day as the Capitol. The last two features were “Love on Credit” and “Burlesque Girls.” Based on the daily ads adult entertainment had evidently been the Capitol’s standard fare for some time.
Between May and June of 1965 the theatre reopened as the Family Theatre with 2nd-run double and triple features. Then on February 18 1967 the Family Theatre became known as the 1st Street Theatre featuring (once again) adult films. The opening day double feature was “Love on Credit” and “Burlesque Girls.”
According to a published ad that appeared on July 4 1967, the theatre was to feature live burlesque beginning July 19th. But this never occured as the theatre closed a few days before the 19th and evidently never reopened. The theatre time clock listed the 1st Street Theatre as “closed for the summer.” A review of the listings through December of 1967 did not show any reopening date.
I’ll post some ads under the photos tab shortly.
You’re right Chuck. This theatre did in fact open as the Britton. I just found a photo of the entrance and signage on another site but unfortunately can’t post here due to copyright. In looking at the photo this was definitely the theatre I visited in 1972. But I don’t remember seeing the name at the time so not certain if it was still called the Britton then or if name had already been changed to Plant City Mall Theatre.
Chuck, I don’t recall that Plant City ever had a Britton Theatre but I could be wrong. It may well have opened as the Britton and was later changed to Plant City Mall Theatre, and later to the Mall I & II.
I had almost forgotten about this place. It was originally a single screen house and was later twinned. If I remember correctly this is the theatre some friends and I visited on a Saturday evening back around 1972. The theatre entrance was inside the mall and at the time it was a very nice single screen house with wall-to-wall drapery and curtains over the screen. We had driven over from Tampa one evening to see a horror double feature. I remember the theatre was packed. 500 seats is about right for the size of the single screen. Although I’m not positive about the title of the first feature—it was something along the lines of “Sasquach.” But I clearly recall the second film, “Frankenstein Conquers the World.”
Driving in the area around the early 1990s I stopped at the mall which was now a flea market. The theatre interior was completed stripped. The wall dividing the twins had been torn down. Walking to the back wall where the single screen had once stood, I looked up to see the original curtain rod was amazingly still attached to the ceiling!
Tampa Tribune/August 16, 1956. Portion of ad for the new Britton Plaza describing the new theatre.
Tinseltoes, I knew about the film being shot in the Tampa area but just realized I didn’t mention it in my post. I had also forgotten that during this period the Tampa Theatre was in the midst of it’s downward spiral and had already been playing 2nd run double features as well as blaxploitation films. So in hindsight I guess it’s not surprising at all that the film had it’s premiere at the Tampa Theatre.
Thanks jrock1956. Great to hear from someone who went to the Lincoln. I enjoyed reading your post—evidently there weren’t any Stones fans in the audience!
Thanks for posting this article Tinseltoes! I had almost forgotten about this film and the local premiere (matter of fact I’m probably standing somewhere in that crowd.) I remember seeing Terry Moore being escorted from the limo onto the red carpet and into the theatre amid flashbulbs popping. As for “The Daredevil” well, I can’t say I remember much at all other than it being a low budget production made for the drive-in market. The fact that the film was booked at the Tampa Theatre was a miracle in itself—probably the high point of it’s exhibition history. Interestingly I just checked the IMDB and there are only 4 reviews of “The Daredevil” with all reviewers giving the film surprisingly high marks.
Whenever I think about those poor people excitedly settling into their seats to see this latest blockbuster, unaware of the horror to come, it almost makes me physically ill. My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy especially to the victims and their families.
I cannot fathom how anyone would want to see a movie here again whether it’s weeks or months from now. I too feel they should level the complex. One option would be to demolish the theatre where the incident took place and build a memorial or small park in honor of those who died here. The one drawback is that this theater is at the rear of the complex so the memorial wouldn’t be visible from the front of the building.
But I suspect Cinemark may eventually reopen this location following a complete renovation of the affected theatre and/or the entire complex.
Thanks Tinseltoes for the photo link to the auditorium which looks just as I remembered. While staying with friends in 1974 in the apartments just around the corner from the theatre I saw two films here: “The Paper Chase” and “The Heartbreak Kid.” The Virginia had a wide spacious and comfortable auditorium. Sad to hear it was demolished.
Bill, I’ve spent hours at a time in the Boxoffice vault. A warning should be posted—this site highly addictive! Thanks for the “2001” review link. The film was a life-altering experience for many who saw it in Cinerama. Seeing it in any other format is not quite the same.
A mind-boggling engagement for “2001!” That 70mm print had to have been worn out by the end of the run. Wonder if it was replaced with a new print after a year or so of showings?
I had live visual contact with the marquee of this theatre 48 years ago. While vacationing in New Orleans in the summer of 1964, my uncle picked us up one evening and drove us across town to my aunt’s house. Driving on Interstate 10 I remember seeing the lit marquee of the Martin Cinerama Theatre off the Interstate as we passed by. “Circus World” was the Cinerama engagement playing at the time. As eager as I was to see both the theatre and the film I never had the chance during my vacation there.
Thanks again CSWalczak. Appreciate your additional info. and effort to help determine which format SOM was initially projected in. I had almost forgotten about the ad for the re-release of “2001” when it played at the Palace in 1970. The newspapers carried a blurb at the bottom of ad that mentions the projector model and screen size.
As stated in the ad, “you will see 2001 projected from the Century precision model projectors.” You guessed correctly! At least this verifies the booth had Century machines. Since these are capable of projecting both formats I guess this is no indication of the format SOM was projected in. This will probably remain a mystery for all time.
The machines in the booth upstairs were definitely not equipped with magnetic sound heads. Several roadshow attractions that played at the Palace were projected from this booth and none were ever presented in stereo. Cleopatra, Dr. Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter are just a few of the many big attractions projected from the upstairs booth with an optical track.
Another thing I noticed when SOM was projected from upstairs was occasional distortion in the sound. During the main titles while the overture plays the soundtrack was slightly distorted during high passages. This was also very noticeable when Julie hit her very high notes. The treble speaker horn may have been the culprit. There had been no sound distortion with the prior print probably because other speakers were being utilized for the Century machines.
Your comment regarding the switch to 35mm requiring a less skilled less sophisticated crew makes sense. Management obviously realized they had a huge winner on their hands with SOM. After months and months of sold-out showings and crowds continuing to fill the house with no end in sight, management must have figured the huge savings they could reap by exchanging the 70 print for a 35 thus reducing the expense of both print and crew. Since the screen size wouldn’t have to be compromised their reasoning was probably who would notice the difference anyway? This could very well have been the reason for the switch!
Thanks CSWalczak for your extremely detailed explanation which clears up a couple of things. Nunzienick is actually me. When CT changed over to the redesigned website my ID username/nickname began appearing on several of my posts but it has since been changed back.
Regarding my posting on the 1965 initial run of “Sound of Music” as being in 35mm—I only assumed it was 35mm due to the screen which was masked for 35mm anamorphic. A former operator friend who had done some relief work at the Palace later told me if the film was being projected from the Cinerama booth then it had to be a 70mm print as those projectors ran 70mm only. I had wrongly assumed the projectors in the Cinerama booth were also capable of showing 35mm.
I saw the film a total of 7 times at the Palace in 1965-66 (plus two additional times when it was re-released in 1973.) I still have the ticket stubs.
On my initial two or three viewings I recall the image being bright and sharp with a richly defined clarity, and no noticeable grain. Also the soundtrack was in stereo. I think it was around my 4th visit when I noticed it was no longer being projected from the Cinerama booth but rather from the old 35mm booth upstairs. The masking did not change at all. I did notice the onscreen image was now slightly more grainy, and not quite as sharp as it had been before. And the soundtrack was no longer in stereo.
So for whatever reason after several weeks of showings in 70mm a decision was made to exchange the print for a 35mm print and project it from the upstairs booth. I’m venturing to guess that a good majority of the audience who were repeat viewers (and there were thousands of them) more than likely didn’t notice the difference in picture & sound quality but I certainly did.
Thanks also for the info & link on “Mad World.” I had
almost forgotten about the soundtrack album I have. I just checked and it does have the Cinerama logo. As for the projected 70mm width you’re probably correct in guessing that management probably made the decision to standardize all 70mm films with side maskings.
Clarification on my comment above: “screen masked approximately 10 to 12 feet on both sides”. I meant to say 10 to 12 feet inward from the original masking for 3-strip projection."
Well all this Cinerama information is certainly exciting! This may either help or add to the confusion. At the Palace in Tampa all films in 70mm were presented with the screen masked approximately 10 to 12 feet on both sides and no masking at the top.
The films were “Grand Prix” “Circus World” “2001” “Ice Station Zebra” “Krakatoa” and “Song of Norway.”
There were two exceptions: the 70mm engagements of “Mad Mad World” in 1963 and “Sound of Music” in 1965. I remember both films being projected from the Cinerama booth on the main level (just like the others) but the screen was masked not only on both sides but at the top as well. This is the same screen size that was used whenever 35mm scope films were projected from the old upstairs booth.
When “Sound of Music” returned in 1973 in 70mm, the top masking was removed but the sides remained masked. The image filled the screen ceiling-to-floor and out to the side maskings. But I never understood why the top of screen was masked for the 1965 engagement and the masking removed for the 1973 engagement if both engagements were in 70mm. I recall Michael Coate had commented on this awhile back saying it may be due to the theatre honoring their Cinerama licensing agreement by not utilizing the full Cinerama screen for a non-Cinerama film in 1965. This sounds like the most logical answer.
“Mad Mad World” was filmed in Ultra-Panavision but does anyone recall it being advertised as Cinerama? I could have sworn it was but now I don’t see the Cinerama logo on any of the posters online I’ve looked at.
Telliott, There’s no explanation for it. I find it amazing that “South Seas Adventure” played for a mere 3 weeks in both Tampa and El Paso when in some larger markets the film ran in excess of 70 weeks. Of course I realize that Tampa and El Paso are much smaller markets. But how a major Cinerama attraction (in 3-strip no less) could have such a short life span in the same market that saw long runs of other Cinerama films is simply mind-boggling. For the record I saw “South Seas Adventure” and thought it was just as enjoyable as the other Cinerama films. I guess the bottom line is that no one can predict how well a film will perform in various markets of the same size.
Thanks for continuing this great series. Interesting to see the number of weeks each film played in various markets.
At the Palace in Tampa all 70mm films were shown on the Cinerama screen which had been masked down on both sides. I’m not certain exactly how much of the image was lost from 3-strip but I would guess about 10 to 12 feet on either side. When “THIS IS CINERAMA” opened in 70mm I recall the center panel was about the same width as 3-strip, but the two side panels lost nearly half their image within each panel.
Great to see the series has returned! CSWalczak: Thanks for the link to that great “classic” photo of the Palace. I love seeing photos of the crowds at theatres showing Cinerama films.
Tampapix (Dan P.) is a friend of the son of John Chinchett. John was the owner of Chinchett Neon Signs, the company that created the signage for the Tower as well as many other businesses in the Tampa area years ago. The Tower photo came from the photo book titled “Vintage Tampa Signs & Scenes” which was published last year I believe. The book is loaded with many photos of signs created by Mr. Chinchett. I can’t say for certain but this may be the only photo of the Tower sign that appears in the book. Hopefully Tampapix will see this and comment