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In his books, the late Irvin Glazer characterizes this theater as “beautiful” and his description makes it clear it was an impressive Art Deco theater. He says it closed in 1951. Therefore, it didn’t survive TV? or was there also a migration of people from the area?
Its chances of again becoming a single screen theater are sllightly less good as TheaterBuff1’s chances of winning the multi-million dollar lottery. Slightly less good because the owner need not sell, or could be tied to lease obligations not to sell. And, he would need to get Hollywood studios to provide films, which they might not do.
When are they turning it into mini-mall?
Originally, “all of the ceilings and wall surfaces were painted in elaborate design…” I wander if any of that survived.
The “SaveTheSameric” domain name expired. I’ve asked the Webmaster to see if we can renew it, so old references can be viewed. For a long time, we’ve been at www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org
We are sending out free Weekly Update emails to anyone who enters their email address for such, at our homepage. The latest news, soon to be posted by volunteer Webmaster, is last week’s removal of the Water Tower framework from atop the Boyd’s stagehouse. That step was needed prior to demolition of stagehouse for replacement with larger stagehouse.
Dennis, I’m sure you are familiar with how long it takes everything to get done in Philadelphia. Closed historic buildings like Lit Bros, the Victory Building, the Naval Home, etc. took many years…new projects like the Kimmel Center, the Gallery, the Vine Street expressway, etc. took forever. The Boyd closed in 2002. Clear Channel bought it earlier last year, but they spun off their theaters to a new company Live Nation, and yes, there have been delays. However, the restoration plans are great, and there will be great shows at the Boyd.
There won’t be poles obstructing views, either! The Academy of Music is an opera house. Touring Broadway & concerts will be fun at the up to date Boyd Theatre. And, Friends of the Boyd are working to set up exhibits of the movie palace’s history, and towards our program of films (classics, festivals, etc), organ, and public tours.
This really belongs on the Pantages page, but I will note that theater was further restored a few years back. Merely because William says that in the early 1990’s it was re-equipped to run 70 mm doesn’t mean the projectors are still there.
I wander if they were thinking premieres or 1st run films? Even if only once a year for Last Remaining Seats, it would be wonderful to have the chance to see a film (35 or 70) in the Pantages. The Egyptian seems to have an excellent film program, but it isn’t the movie palace history tells us it was. The Pantages is still a movie palace with lots of glamour.
This isn’t perfect for this page, but I doubt the Philadelphia Fox was built by the Mastbaums for their competitors. They were builders, so I am open to hearing the proof, but it doesn’t sound right to me.
I know Glazer says the Philly Fox building was a duplicate of NYC’s Loews State, but I don’t know if the entire interior of the theater was a twin.
I’m also disliking the long ownership chain. If not earlier, at least when Warner disappears from the name, there’s no resemblence to any former company.
The book New York 1960 (Marcacelli Press 1995) reports the Baronet was a nickelodeon, which as the Arcadia was taken over in 1951 by Walter Reade & expanded to 432 seats. The upstairs Coronet was added in 1961, as the 1st of the modern Third Avenue theaters.
This duplex closed 9-13-2001. Posters on the theater announced the following, which I wrote down.
After Four Decades, the Loew’s Coronet is Closing. To Commerorate the Coronet’s Place in NYC History, Loews Presents Classic Films of the Coronet Era. Free Admission.
9/10, 1960’s, Dr. No, 4:30 PM, A Hard Day’s Night 7:30 PM, Breakfast at Tiffany’s 10 PM
9/11, 1970’s, Chinatown 4:15 PM, Taxi Driver 7:30 PM, A Clockwork Orange 10:15 PM
9/12, 1980’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, 4:15 PM, Terms of Endearment 7:15 PM, Raging Bull 10:15 PM (but Raging Bull was crossed off)
9/13, 1990’s, Forrest Gump, 4:15 PM, Get Shorty, 7:30 PM, Silence of the Lambs 10:15 PM
Note from me: Great intent, but an American tragedy on 9-11 may have interfered, at least with numbers attending.
Movies are supposed to be enjoyed LARGER THAN LIFE so no home entertainment system is adequate.
Unfortunately, the average movie screen is not 50 feet wide. If you go see the blockbuster on its 1st weekend of release at the local megaplex, then it probably is on a screen that is 50 feet wide, or even bigger. But, too many movie screens in the smaller auditoriums are 20 feet or 25 feet wide (and sometimes smaller). Those screens may be larger than life, but not large enough to get some of us to part with our money and our time.
When they were in the United States, Cineplex Odeon was a great chain for providing decent sized screens in even their small auditoriums, so I am not faulting them. The smaller auditoriums in the Chelsea & Worldwide in New York, in DC’s Wisconsin Avenue, and in Universal City’s theater weren’t bad. But, some of the other chains & local exhibitors built too small auditoriums. Megaplexes are better, try to provide bigger screens, but still leave too many smaller auditoriums with screens that are less than awe inspiring.
Regardless, in general, they are right: see movies in theaters, on larger than life screens, not in your homes!
Fully confident in my academic and preservation credentials, I will say the following:
(1) it is sad that the Mayfair’s landmark Streamlined Moderne architecture hasn’t been protected. That said, I don’t see the economics of “right now” restoring the Mayfair Theatre to a single screen, nor does anybody else that I know of.
(2) I don’t see what foreign nations or the Taliban have to do with this either. What private developers do in the name of making a buck, in Philadelphia to buildings that aren’t legally protected has nothing to do with the religious extremism that is afflicting another part of the world.
I meant to write that I photographed on Saturday.
I enjoyed seeing “Sleeper” with a crowd that often laughed, Friday evening. “On the Beach” looked great on the huge screen. I posted a few of my photos, taken Friday, here:
Back seat driver who won’t ever “invest” in the Boyd would indeed do us all a favor and stop misrepresenting facts.
The Boyd won’t find itself in 1928 but with a new stagehouse, and updated for ADA, modern comfort, etc. We certainly do aim to restore its original Art Deco features. As stated, prelimary work continues. Major renovation will include removal of the four movie signboard.
Friends of the Boyd mission doesn’t include a theater which has been closed half a century (the Holme) or the Mayfair. Without specifying either, it should also be obvious that every closed theater won’t reopen. And, despite pipe dreams, they certainly won’t all reopen as single screen movie houses. That would be living in the past.
I’m a big fan of using the curtain, so I agree.
There’s been much development at the 1900 block of Chestnut Street recently, and much of that makes it better. Friends of the Boyd volunteers have been very devoted to saving Center City’s last movie palace, and have spent many hours to make this happen. WE’ve not seen financial support or an hour of your time on this effort (and we don’t see your actiona making better the theaters you champion in the Northeast- the Holmes & Mayfair especially), so I don’t know why you choose to be so unpleasant again to a group that has sacrificied so much. The new owner of the theater has also worked very hard. This preservation is a great model of SUCCESS. We anticiate major renovation to start soon.
As we stated, a modern box office will be used. The historic 1928 ticket booth (set in about the same space as the current 1953 booth) we be replicated for historic accuracy. The idea has always been to save Center City’s last movie palace, restore it, and reopen it.
The movie palace was the house of the people, all the people. Outside the theater, you opened your wallet, took out a small amount of money, and even though you may not have had much money, you put away your wallet by the time you entered the theater itself. You were now a king.
The current ticket booth sits there from 1953, having replaced the 1928 original, but having none of the architectural majesty of the original. The original was gorgeous Art Deco, and the drawings do it justice. It returns to help bring back the beauty of the Boyd at street level, and its history. A modern box office will be inside the building.
Our website gives much of the history of the Boyd at the history link, FAQ, etc.
Briefly, Alexander Boyd built it but as it was being completed he sold to Warner Bros which were also acquiring the Stanley Co. to become Stanley Warner.
I believe in 1953, consistent with what Vince says above, that due to antitrust litigation, the Hollywood studio (Stanley Warner) had to sell. New York City interests bought it, and then or later it became RKO Stanley Warner.
In 1971, the Sameric Corp. bought the movie palace. Sameric sold their entire chain about 1988 to the United Artists Circuit. UA sold the movie palace in 1998 to the Goldenberg Group but leased it back until 2002. Last year, Clear Channel purchased the Boyd, but spun their theaters off until a new corporation which is now called Live Nation.
I’m not absolutely sure between 1953 and 1971 if the ownership entity changed control but the public knew the theaters as Stanley
Now contrast to the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia, always legit, always owned since construction in 1928 by the Shuberts.
In the 1950’s America was “modernizing” so the Boyd’s original Art Deco ticket booth, marquee, and some ceiling light fixtures were replaced. The ticket and grand lobbies were simplified. And, for Cinerama, a screen was installed in front of the Proscenium Arch and 3 projection booths appeared.
The screen was taken down in 1971. The orchestra’s 3 projection booths are gone. The 1953 ticket booth and marquee will be replaced by replicas of the 1928 originals. Art Deco character will be restored to the lobbies. W. H. Lee’s modernization will be gone.
Enjoy W.H. Lee in the movie theaters he designed, some of which still survive for entertainment in Pennsylvania.
Curtains opened to reveal an empty stage? And, then screen was set further back?
I read about the Fox effort, so when I organized our group to save the Boyd, I was determined not to “rerun” that effort to Save the Fox!
Downtown Philadelphia wasn’t going to save every movie palace for entertainment purposes, but in addition to the Boyd we possibly could’ve saved one more without loss of existing theaters. It would have been great to have retained one of the neoclassics such as the Stanley, Fox, or Earle. The Mastbaum was the best ever built, but so huge….
Excellent. Loge seats will be $25.
Restoration experts who have restored movie palaces nationwide have been consulted, and are bidding for the restoration work.
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts let us use their facility rent free in 2003 for our illustrated slide show on why the Boyd Theatre needs to be saved.
W. H. Lee wasn’t involved in 1928 at the Boyd and so is not relevant to its restoration to its original Art Deco elegance.
Very little of the original decorative glass above the marquee survives. We’ve said from the start that all missing should be replicated and return. I’ve seen wonderful drawings for this to be done, if there’s sufficient funding. As I said in my interview this morning on KYW radio, Friends of the Boyd are fundraising to ensure that original but expensive Art Deco features like the 1928 ticket booth and marquee, can be recreated. The new owner can only invest so much with any hope of breaking even, but we in Philadelphia who view our last movie palace with pride, can make a difference, and can return film to the Boyd, too.
The four movie signboard above the current marquee will be removed when major renovation starts. The marquee also will be replaced with a replica of the 1928 Art Deco version, far more beautiful and consistent with the movie palace’s exterior and interior.
As Vince says, we are grateful that the Sameric Corporation rescued
and reopened the Boyd in the same year that the Randolph was being demolished, and two years before the Stanley was demolished.
Please join us at International House on May 12 for our presentation of Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out” in an archival 35 mm print on the big screen at 3701 Chestnut. Movie begins 7:30 PM for $15 including After-Party with Yards beer, food, 1980’s DJ Chatty Cathy spun music. Splurge for $50 VIP ticket including also 6:00 PM catered reception with 3 who appeared in the film: Channel 6Action news' Dave Roberts, actor Tom McCarthy, FM radio personality Michael
Tearson. Funds raised will help restore the Boyd, and help ensure a film program.
Vince, how interesting on all counts!
I knew GWTW was at both, but didn’t realize the prestige showing was at the Boyd.
Both the Trans Lux and the Arcadia have recently “reopened” as stores, after decade long closures. I’ve been meaning to link my photos to those pages, and will eventually.
Thanks William & Vince for the very informative and interesting postings as to the ticket prices. Now, I’m curious as to what were the most expensive tickets? The (3 strip) Cinerama shows because they were uniquely only ever at the Boyd in 3 strip? Or, road shows of epic films like Cleopatra? I’m wandering whether there was any one particular film (such as The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur, etc) that had the most expensive of the high end tickets?
Thanks Patrick for listing our event!
This is my favorite website!!
A “Mary” wrote that “My mother passed away a couple of years ago, and last week my dad gave me the trunk she used to store all her special treasures. In going through it tonight, I found a ticket stub for seat U 101, Good Only Wed. 8:40 P.M. June 16, 1954 at the Boyd Theater, Orchestra, National Ticket Company. The seat cost $2.60 and is torn so I can’t tell what the show was. Is there anyplace I can get this information?”
I answered “This is Cinerama” which ran for one or two years at the Boyd? Her ticket price works out in inflation adjusted dollars to $17 or $18 today. Were road show features in the 1950’s & 1960’s also just as expensive?
At the Loews Jersey on Friday eve, volunteer usher Myron told me that in early 1968 he saw GWTW in a “pan and scan” 70 mm version on the Cinerama screen at the Boyd. It is possible his recollection is confused with the Randolph?