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From the Nov 12, 2006 Philadelphia Weekly article by Andrew Repasky McElhinney,
Best Overall Theatergoing Experience
From its first-rate presentation, generous-sized screens and hardworking, quick-thinking and courteous staff, the all-stadium-seating AMC Plymouth Meeting 12 is the best megaplex in the area. Clean, adjacent to the Plymouth Meeting Mall, featuring two awesomely large THX-certified screens, reasonably reliable projection and a powerful sound systemâ€"this is as good as a multiplex gets.
The June 1999 Philadelphia magazine gave a perfect 5.0 rating to what was then the GCC Plymouth Meeting 12, with the highest possible rankings in each category of Cleanliness, Service, Screen & Sound, and Seating, and in the Comment section: “Worth the $8” This was the best rating of any movie theater in the Philadelphia area other than the Ritz 12 Voorhees (which had most of its screens devoted to arthouse fare then).
The 1999 Philadelphia magazine gave the lowest rating in the Philadelphia area to the Regal Plymouth Meeting 10 rating it only a 2.8, with Comment stating “Regal Disappointment”
Also in Montgomery County, and not too far away, is the Regal Marketplace 24 @ Oaks which was rated 4.8 which was the next highest rated of all Philadelphia area theaters. Some notable theaters built since these ratings include the United Artists King of Prussia 16 and the Bridge /theaters/10911/
caption to this exterior photo states apparently where former Scala cinema was:
Main auditorium photos:
In 2001, I saw a movie in the main historic auditorium, noting that it had 650 seats. If the original auditorium was 3000 seats, then is something missing? The original orchestra level or a balcony level?
And, what did the original lobby look like?
The theater was built 1933.
The auditorium to the right is larger. Irvin Glazer’s hardback book “Philadelphia Theatres A-Z” states each auditorium had 450 seats each. That might have been then true for the auditorium to the right.
I began attending in April 1988, and my notes indicate 421 seats for the larger auditorium, the one on the right.
An article on 12-14-1998 stated that the AMC Old City 2 had closed, one year ahead of its lease term, but would reopen in the spring as
the Ritz East, and had a total of 750 seats.
In 2001, I estimated 300 seats for the Ritz East auditorium on the right, which was then stadium seated, and a 30 to 35 feet wide scope screen.
You are trying to provoke Philadelphians by stating NYC is the best? Why not suggest the Ziegfeld, which you have included among your Favorites on this website? Instead, you’ve got a theater with tiny screens, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, which I went to once and will never return to.
The Avalon and Uptown in D.C. and the Baltimore Senator also are among the best East Coast treasures.
If we are going to talk multiplexes, this one- Neshaminy, is one of the most profitable in the nation. I added today the AMC Plymouth Meeting Mall 12, which is also an exceptional Philadelphia area
movie theater. In Philadelphia, the Bridge is a great movie theater and featured in the book Cinema Treasures.
A comment says the model ship in front was retrieved for use in the replacement building. Was it reused? on the exterior? photo anybody?
Was the main original screen still used after the theater was divided up?
It is rather far from downtown. There are more convenient movie theaters to get to from downtown. If on the other hand, you’d like a shopping expedition at Franklin Mills, it is perfectly doable.
12-21-1997 Philadelphia Inquirer article stated that on 12-19-97 the GCC Franklin Mills theater “moved” to the mall, with THX, digital sound, stadium seats (the 1st in Philadelphia, love seats, for total of 3636 seats.
12-18-1998 article (probably Philadelphia Inquirer) stated that Cherry Hill would have 4400 seats and take up 95,000 square feet and be Art Deco in style.
Feb 28, 1998 Philadelphia Inquirer stated that AMC Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem would open in 6 months with 4900 love seats. The theater cost $11 million to construct. Auditoriums would range from 100 seats with a 30 feet wide screen to 590 seats with a 61 feet wide screen. The theater will compete with nearby Franklin Mills and Oxford Valley Mall movie theaters.
I won’t speak for others but in the USA, it would be a great THEATER for plays, spelled that way as a noun. However, as a name, we can call it the Rialto Theatre if we like.
here’s the text of the LA Times article:
Dire projections for South Pasadena’s Rialto
The South Pasadena institution, eclipsed by multiplexes, will close soon, though a revival is possible.
By Roger Vincent
August 10, 2007
The jazz-age Rialto Theater in South Pasadena, one of the few remaining single-screen cinemas in Southern California, will roll its last film Aug. 19. The operator, Landmark Theatres, has run out of patience with the money-losing movie palace built in the 1920s.
But plans are in the works for a major real estate project surrounding the theater on Fair Oaks Avenue, and the theater may come back to life as part of the new development. For the foreseeable future, however, it’s curtains for the Rialto.
“It’s too expensive to operate,” said Ted Mundorff of Landmark Theatres. “It can’t compete against the new modern theaters that people prefer.”
The stately, 1,200-seat theater that opened with the Universal release “What Happened to Jones?” in 1925 will close with “The Simpsons Movie.” It also hosted the cult favorite “Rocky Horror Picture Show” as a midnight feature for three decades.
“We love the theater. We love South Pasadena,” said Mundorff, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles-based Landmark theater chain. “The economics just don’t work.”
Mundorff declined to disclose box office or concession counter revenues but said the Rialto was rarely more than half full. Although Landmark installed a new sound system last year, it would cost at least $1 million more to properly restore the theater, Mundorff said.
The seats are in particular need of repair, but the carpets are also frayed, paint is chipped and the place sometimes has a musty odor. In short, the Rialto is the kind of weary aging moviehouse that many people remember fondly but few think to patronize on a night out.
“Very few old theaters can make it,” said Jim Rosenfield, owner of the single-screen Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, which dates to 1938. American Cinematheque operates the Aero primarily as a revival house.
“I get calls all the time from people who want to save their neighborhood theaters,” said Rosenfield, who restored the Aero in 2005. “Unless they have someone behind them who is a patron of the arts or an angel landlord,” the theaters usually can’t be saved, he said.
Modern multiplexes have several advantages for moviegoers over traditional single-screen venues, including more choices of movies, more screening times and stadium-style seating offering better sightlines. Like many other old theaters, the Rialto doesn’t have a parking lot.
Landmark controls the theater under a long-term lease. Eventually it will revert to a trust held by the Jebbia family, which has owned it since the 1930s, said trustee Philip Jebbia, who has an investment business in South Pasadena.
In the meantime, Landmark would need a white knight to help pay for restoration.
“If we can develop an economically viable plan to restore the theater, that would be our preference,” said Bill Banowsky, chief executive of Landmark. “If we are unable to do so we will make the space available for other uses that are compatible with the neighborhood.”
One potential suitor is Decoma Developers Inc. Decoma is working on a revitalization project intended to create a more pedestrian-friendly retail, residential and leisure district in the core of South Pasadena, including blocks around the Rialto.
“The theater is a treasure and we are all working on the possibility of keeping the Rialto a single-screen theater,” said Marinel Robinson, principal of Torrance-based Decoma. “One day the theater will be renovated. Everybody needs to be patient.”
If Decoma’s project is approved by the city, it would start work next summer and complete the development in three years, Robinson said. “We will work with whoever ends up controlling the theater.”
The Rialto was one of the great luxurious theaters of its day, built to feature both movies and live performances. It had 10 dressing rooms, a green room, an orchestra pit and a deep stage for vaudeville performances.
A backstage fire damaged the theater in 1938, about the time the vaudeville era ended. Another fire in 1969 burned the organ loft, though the large Wurlitzer that once was used to accompany silent films was saved and later sold.
Plans to raze the theater to make way for a parking lot in 1977 were successfully resisted by local residents and Landmark backed off a proposal to divide the theater into a multiplex in the 1990s.
It has been featured in many films and commercials, most notably Robert Altman’s “The Player” and more recently “Scream 2,” Landmark said.
“Its a very special theater for our town,” said nearby merchant Lucia Wiltrout. “It’s got lots of good memories.”
On vacation, I searched for historic movie palaces in the LA area and enjoyed the Rialto! Its beautiful interior shouldn’t be gutted. It appears in the book “The Last Remaining Seats” for good reason. It has 1920s Golden Age Hollywood glamour!
South Pasadena can follow the example of the restored Warner in San Pedro http://www.warnergrand.org/ and restore the Rialto for live entertainment, cultural performances, AND a film series.
Are you talking about a Cinerama screen still in New York? Where? or maybe you are talking 20 or more years ago?
On vacation in 2000, I found the Rialto to be a perfect historic movie house to enjoy Sunset Boulevard and Citizen Kane.
More INTERIOR PHOTOS, please, before it closes!
and, yes, let’s hope it reopens with a restoration and continues to show films.
The Philadelphia City Archives has produced copies of historic photos for exhibit and for sale this month at the WCAU building at 16th & Chestnut:
Movie theater photos that are on display (and sale) are both theaters on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, the Arcadia (the photo mentioned above as being from 1935) and the Trans-luxe /theaters/9143/
The Trans-luxe and the Arcadia /theaters/3955/
also on same block of Chestnut, are included.
Hidden behind Gap store:
Link to long article:
Link to article:
A photo showing a nice looking new marquee appeared with the print article in the NE Times.
Just so we set a proper example, it is spelled Proscenium, which framed the screen. In historic theaters, behind it was the stage and stagehouse. The KB Fine Arts evidently didn’t have a stagehouse. What it did have was great projection and sound.
Steve, so what I was looking at was a blue light lit screen? That’s what you mean by “screen wash”? then blue house lights went off the screen, blue lights went off, and presentation began?
Yes, I remember it was a downstairs theater. I read the “procenium-less screen” comment and realize its possible ramification. I remember how handsomely blue the auditorium was. I just don’t recall it not having a curtain. You must be right.
If only you, Steve, had photographed theaters you worked in. You could’ve posted some photos on the film tech website like the others do.
Several years, I was looking in D.C. for what it became, and I think a nightclub or something, if I found the right spot. Maybe somebody can verify that?
View link (2 photos at this link)
Other than a few architectural fragments, nothing of the Art-Deco landmark “Ziegfeld Theater” was believed to have been saved from it’s tragic demolition in 1966. That was until recently, when an immense mural called “The Joy of Life”, designed by the architect Joseph Urban for the theater, was discovered by New York City antiques dealer John Bermingham.
New York, NY (PRWEB) January 24, 2007 — In 1927, the Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld opened the Ziegfeld Theater on 6th Avenue and 54th Street and changed the face of theater for decades after. Home of the famed “Ziegfeld Follies”, the theater was an Art-Deco masterpiece created by Joseph Urban, an architect known for his fanciful and imaginative design and dÃ©cor. Situated well out of the theater district and featuring a unique “egg-shaped” auditorium, the Ziegfeld Theater was a landmark unto itself.
Despite public outcry at the time, the Ziegfeld Theater was demolished in 1966 to make way for an office tower that now occupies the spot. It was believed that other than a few architectural fragments, nothing remained of this lost landmark. That is, until now.
It’s a part of New York City history, theater history and design history, and it deserves to be seen and appreciated.
A rare piece of this lost American treasure has recently re-surfaced in the form of an immense section of the original painted mural “The Joy of Life” which somehow escaped the wrecking ball all those years back. The mural was painted in 1926 by Lillian Gaertner under the direction of Joseph Urban, who provided the original sketches and personally oversaw the work. Madame Gaertner had studied under the renowned Bauhaus designer Joseph Hoffman and worked with Urban on many of his theatrical projects. The recently re-discovered canvas, which originally graced the walls and ceiling of the main auditorium, measures 24 feet wide by 14 feet high and features fanciful and brightly colored depictions of characters from literature, history and mythology.
The mural is currently owned by Manhattan antiques dealer John Bermingham who located it in November 2006. Bermingham states that his interest in the work stemmed from his love for New York City history and the theater in particular. “It is a tragedy that a landmark such as the Ziegfeld Theater was allowed to be destroyed back then, before the awareness of the value of historical architecture and design. Today, thankfully, such a thing would never happen”. Bermingham added, “It is remarkable, however, that such a unique and important artifact as this mural has managed to survive and we should at least be grateful for that”. The outcry over the demolition of the Ziegfeld Theater and the original Penn Station are credited with prompting the landmark preservation movement championed by Jacqueline Onassis.
The mural will be on display at the New York Design Fair at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street from February 8th through the 10th. “The biggest challenge we will face will be finding it an appropriate home, considering its size,” says Bermingham. “It would be great if it could remain intact, perhaps as part of a museum collection, or featured on the wall of some fantastic New York restaurant like the Picasso mural on display at the Four Seasons.” Bermingham adds, “It’s a part of New York City history, theater history and design history, and it deserves to be seen and appreciated.”
My link didn’t work. Try