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To answer UFO two and a half years later…
I never got the chance to go to the Bleecker Street Cinemas. Being Los Angeles born and bred, what I knew about New York City in the 1970s and 1980s came from watching Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese movies. When I finally did move to New York City in 2001, the theatre was long gone, although I did make a pilgrimage to the site the day after I moved in to my crappy little railroad apartment in Bed-Stuy, and I learned a bit more about the theatre from “Toxic Avenger” director Lloyd Kaufman from the years I worked for him at Troma.
And to touch on something LorenzoRodriguez said in 2007…
I don’t think New Yorkers cinephiles mindlessly line up at the zooplex. For the four years I lived in New York City (Brooklyn 2001-2003, Yorkville 2003-2005), I would regularly go to BAM or Film Forum or Cinema Village or the Quad and see packed houses for revival titles, documentaries, avant-garde, indie and foreign films. I would walk around the neighborhood with my wife and see good crowds going to the UA East 85th for the types of movies that wouldn’t play at the Orpheum 7 or the East 86th around the corner.
I honestly think a theatre like the Bleecker could exist today, provided it was operated by a movie lover with very deep pockets. Theatres like the Bleecker closed not because the audiences abandoned them, but because the greed of the people who owned the buildings that housed the theatres who would jack up the rents for the theatre to a price that no longer made economical sense to continue operating. It’s what happened to the Bleecker eighteen years ago, it’s what happened to the Two Boots Pioneer Theatre eighteen weeks ago.
For crying out loud, didn’t we just go through this with the Senator last year? I’ve never been to Baltimore, never been to the Senator, but I made a donation to their recent “Save the Senator” fund-drive anyway, because I hate to see a grand old theatre go bye-bye. But if they have to come hat in hand again this quickly, then it just ain’t being run very well.
Thank you, gentrification!
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Pioneer as a movie theatre (I generally hate anything small boxy theatres with no ambiance) but they had some of the best alternate programming I’ve ever seen. I’d love to run a theatre like it in Los Angeles, if I had deeper pockets and a better space to do it in.
When I was a manager with UATC in Santa Cruz and San Jose the late 80s, this was where we had to go for our manager meetings. I hated going there for a variety of reasons, mostly because the theatre had no soul. The only thing I remotely liked about the place was those long hallways that separated the lobby from the auditoriums. It wasn’t done for aesthetic reasons, I know, but they did drown out the cacophony from the hub.
I knew this theatre wouldn’t last when the district offices moved from the Metro Center to the theatre in Emeryville, which also robbed me of my nice drive up Highway 1 from Santa Cruz into the city.
The only movie I specifically remember seeing in the big house at the original Lakewood Center Theatre was Rocky III. I don’t know why that’s the only one that stands out, as I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the film, but it is what it is. Memory is a funny thing. I remember walking in to that auditorium and being astounded by how massive it was. Growing up in Long Beach in the 70s and 80s, we had lost most of the classic single screen houses downtown, and the Belmont had already been turned in to a racquetball club, so the big houses at the UA Marketplace 6, which sat maybe 500, were what was big to me at the time. So that #1 house at the Lakewood Center Theatre was just mindblowing.
I did end up going back to the Lakewood Center 16 one in the late 1990s after its grand reopening. Pushing Tin was playing in one of the smaller, newer houses, but I peeked in to that big house. It was still pretty big, but it just didn’t have the same charm as before. Changes done in the name of progress rarely improve what was already a good thing.
Frankly, I’m surprised this place lasted as long as it did, after the opening of the 16 screens up the parking lot.
I TAP’d this theatre a couple times during the late 1990s, and while there was never anything ever wrong with the place on a technical level during my visits, I hated going there because it just had zero charm.
DTS was tested on several titles at the Cineplex Odeon Beverly Center in 1992 and 1993 (where I was an assistant manager at the time) before its official debut with Jurassic Park. I don’t remember every title we tested, but I do remember Mr. Baseball and The Public Eye were the first two titles we tested, and I seem to remember Matinee and CB4 also being tested.
The next movie scheduled to play the Chinese is M. Night Shymalan’s The Happening.
Ah, the Sash Mill. How much you are missed. Like Gary, most of my friends and I would also have a Sash Mill calendar on our fridge or in our rooms, with the shows we were going to see circled so we didn’t forget. I never kept a diary of the films I saw there, but it would easily be in the hundreds (and that’s not including all the times we watched or performed RHPS).
The snack bar for the theatre was cozy, had a great selection of traditional and non-traditional snacks… and a little black and white monitor secured over the snack bar, with a tinny little speaker next to it, so you didn’t miss a moment of the movie should you absolutely need to get some stuff during the presentation. Now there’s something you won’t find in very many theatres today.
I will have to disagree with Jean, however, about her statement “This was just before VCRs were common.” By the time I graduated from Aptos High in 1985, everyone I knew had a VCR, a couple of us worked at video stores, and it was rare if we weren’t going to the Sash at least once a week (again, not including RHPS). Well into the 1990s, when we were buying and renting our laserdiscs at Lenz Arts, we were still going to the Sash on a consistent basis. I was living in Los Angeles when the Sash finally closed in 1994, so I didn’t get to go to the last show, but I know a lot of thirty and fortysomethings who miss the place dearly.
For the record, the address for the Sash was 303 Potrero St #35, Santa Cruz CA 95060
Fantastic news! Of all the theatres I have managed since 1986, this was by far my favorite. Very few modern multiplexes can match the excitement of seeing a movie on a massive 50-foot plus wide screen.
Sorry, my mistake. It was the AMC Century 15 that showed Da Vinca in 4K.
The Dome is 4k capable… or at least was two years ago. The Da Vinci Code was shown in 4k at the Dome.
Fact of the matter is, any owner of a theatre building will continue to support that theatre’s existence as long as they feel it is bringing in the highest amount of revenue possible. We are losing many of these single screen theatres nationwide (whether they remained single screens or were converted to multiple screens) because they simply cannot generate the revenue needed for them to survive, and we’re going to continue to see these theatres fall to the wayside for years to come.
I loved the NuWilshire as much as anyone. It was my home for two years, and I did everything I could (sometimes against the wishes of my superiors at Landmark) to make our customers feel we cared about them and were grateful they were coming to our theatre instead of the AMC Century 14 or Laemmle Sunset 5 (the two theatres we most often shared product with while I was there). I got there just after Landmark ended its one year experiment as a programmed calendar (a companion to the Nuart) and made it a first-run arthouse. I would have loved to do those calendars, and having been there when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit and closed us down for three months, I would have loved to see them knock that fucking wall down and turn it back into a single.
But it was not meant to be.
If Landmark hadn’t taken the theatre when Mann exited in 1992, we wouldn’t be sitting here lamenting its 2007 shuttering.
We’d have lost it then.
Be thankful we got another 15 years with the theatre, and make sure you thank her for all those wonderful additional memories every time you pass by her.
Remind me again which movie I can see today at Radio City or the New Amsterdam or the Beacon or Studio 54.
Someone might want to change the address to 10990 Woodside Avenue North, as 10990 Woodside Avenue puts you on the wrong side of the freeway in Google Maps.
We can go ahead and mark this one as closed/demolished. The theatres were torn down about a year or so ago.
I’ve finally posted some of the photos I took during last summer’s Los Angeles Conservancy sponsored screening of “Roman Holiday” at the Los Angeles Theatre.
I can’t tell you how many movies I saw here in my youth. While I can understand the economic reasons why drive-ins are closing, it’s still sad to see another part of my personal history be swept under the rug.
I was in Monterey this past weekend, and the theatre was closed and in the process of being gutted. I had a small affinity for this theatre, as it was the place where I trained as a manager back in the 80s, but it’s really not going to be missed by anyone.
I know for a fact that Fritz Lang’s Metropolis played at the Ziegfeld in the late summer of 2002, on a move-over from the Film Forum, because I went to see it twice at the Ziegfeld. The first time, I was simply amazed that Clearview would pick up an old, silent, German movie. From the Film Forum. And I had to see it again, after having seen it at the Forum. The Forum is a good place to see movies, but the experience of seeing Metropolis at the Ziegfeld totally blew the Forum’s presentation away. The second time, I took a friend who was in from Seattle to show him an example of quality cinemagoing in The Big Apple.
Man, I haven’t thought about this place in years. For a while in the late 70s and early 80s, I used to go to the Old Towne for movies. I know I saw many movies there, but the only two I definitely remember seeing at that specific location are 10 and Meteor.
It would be really great for those of us who either no longer live in New York City or have never had the chance to visit this once-great theatre to see some pictures of what is currently happening. Thank you very much in advance.
I guess one could say I was biased, since I managed the competition down the street, but when I was at the Fox Watsonville in the late 1990s, the Galaxy had become a real junkhole. The place was poorly operated, the booth had home stereo equipment jerry-rigged into the sound racks so they could say their films were in Dolby Stereo and the seats were horribly uncomfortable. I only ever saw one movie at the Galaxy, the original Men In Black, sometime during its opening week. (I have no idea to this day why the Fox, with its 50ft main auditorium screen with DTS Digital Sound, did not open the film.) The number one movie in America, on an early Monday evening, and I was the only person in the theatre watching the film.
The Galaxy didn’t die because of the opening of the Green Valley 8, although I am certain it didn’t help. The Galaxy died because no one went there. Why would they, when they had a grand old theatre like the Fox?
On the KSCO website, there is a report from September 2006 which reports the Fox being in escrow, about to sell to a firm owned by Mark Calvano for $2.25M.
Alan Lopez needed to do a little bit more research before publishing his article.
As a teenager in Santa Cruz in the early to mid 1980s who eventually became an assistant manager at the Del Mar in the mid to late 1980s, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the Del Mar was not a second run theatre during the time I regularly visited or worked there, and was far from being on “hard times” during my watch. I still remember with some fondness and annoyance having to come up with new and exciting ways to trumpet our seemingly never-ending run of “‘Crocodile’ Dundee” in the daily Sentinel newpaper ads, which played first-run at the Del Mar for more than half a year.
UA had their own way of booking their Santa Cruz theatres in the 1980s. The Rio got the expected blockbusters, the Riverfront got the second-level hits, the 41st Avenue Playhouse got the critical and expected award-winners and the Del Mar got the workhorses. (The Aptos Twin was its own conundrum.) It might not have always given the Del Mar the greatest films all of the time, but the theatre wasn’t going for lacking with long first-run plays for films like “Ferris Bueller,” “Star Trek IV” and “Dirty Dancing.”
Now that I live in Los Angeles, I haven’t been to the Del Mar since before the Nick gang took it over. I look forward to checking the old home out in its new splendor.