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If he’s willing to sell the property, there’s a chance that the theatre can be revived. What do you think the chances for that happening are?
The “over-salted” comments are another one of those urban legends, as audiences that pay the high prices at the stand are more demanding of their popcorn than the author realizes. (although I must admit Managers sometimes joke about it when under the pressure of executives to increase the per-persons) I’ve never seen a rush in the middle of a movie to visit the stand, although you’ll find a few who need to use a restroom after drinking the giant soda.
The comment about focus and gate tension is odd. I never heard of that before.
I heard that Landmark was interested. (how come this is beginning to sound like a thread from cinematour?)
That would be quite a shocker. Are the Redstones selling the Circle, or going to use it as a moveover house?
Ron, if you check my photo in this link, http://natickmass.info/Gorman.htm is it the same as your photo? I’ve been searching for a view that shows the marquee, with no luck yet. My email is
Does the group of theatres you have, show the theatres in Framingham Massachusetts?
The Ford City was always one of General Cinema’s best grossing theatres, for many years number 1. The information on dates comes from GCC records. If you find some photos, we’d love to see a link to them.
In 1975, the Manager of this theatre took me on a brief tour upstairs here, where he had discovered a room which had been walled off. (they must have been doing some renovation work.) Inside, covered in soot, were a few dozen rolled 40x60s all from the years 1942 and 1943. Littered on the floor, were lobby cards and stills. There was also an area above the ceiling of the auditorium where I saw old glass light covers. I grabbed a few choice items from the old “poster room” and lugged them out to my car. One of the posters was a Yankee Doodle Dandy which I sold to a fellow Manager at the GCC Hanover Mall, named Jim Mahoney. I understand Jim had this poster displayed on the wall of his office there for a few years. I wish I had appreciated this stuff back then.
Ford City opened on May 27, 1966. It was originally a twin, then became a triple, and eventually a five-plex. Ford City East 6-8 opened 7/17/81. The 14 plex opened on 8/1/90. The blue lights described by Bob Hanson, illuminated the white shadow box, which was common of GCC theatres of the 1960’s and into the ‘70. They were eliminated when auditoriums were split.
Richard Smith explained the role the National Theatre played in the founding of his father’s theatre business which eventually became General Cinema.
“The Keith-Albee-Orpheum vaudeville chain hired Philip Smith to revive Keith’s "white elephant”, the National on Tremont St. Smith revived the floundering business by booking 14 movies a week, 2 new films each day and reverting to old time prices, 10 cents per seat. This high volume strategy was a success and Smith was able to become lessee-operator as Smith Theatrical Enterprises. From that base, he began by leasing properties and opening theatres in Weymouth, Reading, Hudson, and East Greenwich Rhode Island. In 1925, when his son Richard Smith was a year old, Phil Smith owned 12 theatres. By 1929, they had 18 theatres, some in partnership with the Stoneman’s of Interstate Theatres. (the Broadway in South Boston was in partnership with the Doyle family. Philip Smith also had established a film distribution business called Piedmont Pictures, based in Boston’s Bay Village section near the Coconut Grove. They handled independent film, usually booked into second run houses. But with the stock market crash of 1929, he was forced to sell all but three, the Strand Ipswich, and the two in South Boston.“ At the time, Philip Smith established a relationship with the First National Bank of Boston, in order to pay off debts. This led to a long term business relationship that later enabled the Smith family to grow what would become General Cinema in the 1950’s and ‘60s.
The Strand in South Boston was one of the three theatres owned by Phil Smith, which were the beginnings of Smith’s Theatrical Enterprises. The Strand was managed by Jim Cronin, “a proper Bostonian Irishman who lectured anyone who disturbed the quiet of the theater.” Quoted Dick Smith, “there were no candy wrappers on his floors”, and “no wise kids”. Phil Smith also owned the Broadway in South Boston and the Strand in Ipswich. These three were said to have carried the Smith family through the depression and formed the beginning of what would later become General Cinema.
Thank you Mr Fusion, for the candy band!
This theatre was located in a strip mall just off Rte 9 in Westboro Massachusetts. It was originally called the Ruth Gordon Flicks and played art film.
Oh, and the Solomon Pond Mall is in Northboro.
Kevin, this theatre isn’t in the Solomon Pond Mall. It’s on Rte 9 in Westboro Mass.
The Entertainment Cinema complex was located about a mile east, opening in the early ‘90s, and closed a few years ago.
Here’s a link to the listing, http://www.bastraightrealestate.com/1045.html
I think we’re all hoping that either of the two readers who promised a digitized version will eventually come through.
What’s the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report project? Are there photos of theatres all over New England?
I’d be interested in seeing the pictures, my email is
The shopping center owns the land, and someone buying the Cinema would only own the business and furnishings, with a lease that gives the shopping center a percentage of the profits. (kind of like buying a condo) If it’s for sale, you’d want to know what the terms of the lease are, with the shopping center, to determine whether it’s going to be a profitable plan. The shopping center may have other plans for the property and be looking to end the lease, and sell the location to another type of business, thus maybe the lease is coming up for renewal and the operator wants out. Since the concessions are owned by someone else, it’s one more detriment to the viability of the place as a theatre.
As for cost, the Assessor’s Office in the city of Cambridge could help start some research.
That’s a great history! Thank you for remembering so many details and telling the story. Are there any photos published of the Salem theatres?
It would be great if some of those photos mentioned in previous posts were uploaded to a Photobucket or some other site with a link, for all of us readers to see.
To Cineman, have you found the GCC trailer?
I think the Back Bay Theatre was where I saw a Beach Boys Concert in 1967. Lead in acts were the Buckinghams doing “Kind of a Drag” which was their hit, and Tommy James and the Shondells with “I Think We’re Alone Now”.
Nearby, I think next to the Uptown, a few months later, The Doors with lead-in act Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Ponys.