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If movie theaters began with those constructed in the 1980’s, sure, there wouldn’t be any websites celebrating them!
My understanding is we are documenting all movie theaters.
We document the palaces, mostly built for silents, which in Washington D.C. there’s only one with an intact interior that survives downtown: the Warner, just as in Philadelphia there’s only one that survives downtown: the Boyd.
We also document the more modest single screen movie theaters, often Art Moderne that were built in the talkie era.
And, we also document the multiplexes and megaplexes. And, that includes lousy ones such as the Copley Plaza in Boston that Sacks opened in the 1980’s and which there are many comments on this website, including of its passing. As a law student in the early to mid 1980’s, I attended movies there, and that wasn’t a fun environment. Fun was the Charles' main single, and the big screen in the Cheri. The Charles & Cheri weren’t palaces, weren’t even historic movie houses from the pre-WW2 era, but were modern. They had large screens and large auditoriums.
The wonderful Cinema Treasures book documents all, but if I am wrong about this website, tell me!
As to the DC cinemas, the Wisconsin Avenue was lavishly built by a chain, Cineplex Odeon, that overspent (and eventually paid the price). Carpets, seats, granite benches in the foyers, testify to a grander environment than many other 1980’s theaters. Other companies were building multiplexes with screens that seem to range from 15 to 25 feet wide. The Wisconsin Avenue has two big houses with screens of about 35 to 40 feet wide! And, each of the small auditoriums was bigger than other multiplex construction: witness the auditorium size of the Dupont 5. I’ve only seen a few movies there, especially in the two big houses, a pleasant experience. I’m sorry to hear the sound bleads to a smaller auditorium.
Union Station was built with the features of the arches of the station incorporated within, and with other luxury touches, from what I read. I’ve seen it a billion times, but never seen a movie
It is possible that within a few years, both will be closed as they reach 20 and leases may expire. Neither was in the “yuck” category, rather both were among the best built in their time, and very popular for a long time.
12-25-1928 marked the 77th Anniversary of the opening of the Boyd Theatre by ALEXANDER R. BOYD. He sold the theater soon afterwards to the Warner Bros, who were also buying the Stanley Theater, and so it became a Stanley Warner theater. Boyd left Stanley Warner, where he was pivotal, to open his own movie palace and chain of theaters. Evenutally, in 1934, he had a chain, though not including the Boyd on Chestnut Street. Why did he sell the Boyd? Maybe with Warner Bros. moving in, he was afraid he couldn’t get “product” (the Warner and Paramount films he was booking in the Stanley theaters), maybe he ran out of money, or maybe Warner Bros. paid him enough he was happy with the profit.
Visit www.FriendsOfTheBoyd for more fascinating history.
When I tried to add the Wisconsin Avenue over the weekend, it didn’t seem to want to take, but thanks to Ron, I see it is there. I just added the Union Station now, so perhaps it will take another few days to appear. These are the first theaters I’ve ever added! No doubt, later, I will add more from Washington, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.
I also attended King Kong this past weekend. The Uptown is not falling apart. Some armrests need repair in the balcony, but that’s all. I was told the landlord would show movies if AMC pulls out, and had shown them before. That makes the landlord the Pedas Brothers who had the Circle chain, selling the Chain (but apparently not the Uptown building) to Cineplex Odeon, which then merged into Loews, and is now merging into AMC.
What will save the Uptown for some time is PATRONAGE. From New York City to Washington, there’s not a greater moviehouse experience than the Uptown! The exterior is a great, and the auditorium’s huge 70 to
80 feet wide movie screen fantastic!
I also saw the restored Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, and Vertigo, and agree such experiences were wonderful. In the last few years, I also enjoyed restored or reissues of Raiders of the Lost Arc, 2001, and Alien, and new movies. In 1997, I enjoyed the Warner Bros 75th Anniv. films, and the big screen epics like The Wild Bunch and Blade Runner were terrific on the huge screen. And, I’ve been fortunate to see many other classics & new films there.
AFI isn’t going to takeover the Uptown. They have the Silver. The Avalon programs arthouse & classics in a historic moviehouse. The Uptown is too big for arthouse of fulltime classic. The asset is the enormous auditorum including balcony.
As to original decoration, it looks like the ceiling was gutted. My gut feeling is American Indian decoration on the walls is also gone, but I don’t know for sure. We found lots of decoration hidden in niches in the Boyd auditorium, but you could see those niches still present. Although the Uptown’s original decoration appears neat in photos, it was relatively modest. For full Art Deco spendlor, visit the Boyd in Philadelphia when it reopens in 2007,
Again, patronize the Uptown if you like it. And, buy from the concession counter, because that’s how the operator profits, and profits keep the place open, and only profits will keep it open. Otherwise, it may end up being a giant retail store. Anybody really prefer the CVS in the (also John Zink designed) MacArthur?
Wisconsin Avenue will likely be reused for mainstream Hollywood fare, at least until the lease expires. Arthouse fare exists in Washington at the downtown Landmark, at Dupont Circle, at the Avalon, and nearby at the AFI Silver. Looking at the DC area, I see National Amusements and Consolidated operating megaplexes, but their websites indicate preference for stadium seating. Crown operates one theater in the area. That leaves Regal as most likely to takeover, but we shall see.
I agree as to the locale. I used to live in D.C., and returned for a few days vacation. I was surprised by the dreadful walk from Tenleytown Metro to the Wisconsin Avenue Cinemas. So much more pleasant are Cleveland Park, with the fantastic Uptown Theatre, Friendship Heights with the AMC Mazza Gallerie, and Chevy Chase with the Avalon. All of those are real neighborhoods.
Here’s a nice interior photo found on a popular photo website-
The joint company’s “losses” in Washington D.C. are of two multiplexes that aren’t stadium seated! The AMC Union Station was rendered redudant with Regal’s opening of a megaplex downtown, the Gallery Place. The same movies play. If Regal takes the Union Station lease, competition will actually be decreased in this downtown area district!
The Wisconsin Avenue opened 1987 so probably has a 20 year lease? My photo this holiday weekend at http://www.flickr.com/photos/howardbhaas/77637685/
I’ve visited Los Angeles enough to know that Edward is correct. In Los Angeles you can see mainstream films (the Ziefeld’s usual fare) at the Chinese, El Capitan, the original Cinerama Dome auditorium, the Vista, and moving from Hollywood to Westwood Village, the Fox Village, Bruin, National, and Crest. Arthouse & classic films include a great lineup,including the Egyptian, the Fine Arts, S. Pasadena’s Rialto, as well as Last Remaining Seats (often at the Orpheum & the Los Angeles), the Alex, etc. I’m sure there are ones I missed. Some of these screens are 60 or 70 feet wide, sound is super, and the theaters even more super. No, you don’t miss the Ziefeld, because there are so many others, some historic movie palaces.
However, the Ziegfeld has long been one of the best moviehouses of NYC, just as the Senator is in Baltimore, and the Uptown in DC. And, the Ziegfeld will survive only if it has patronage!
I really wanted to visit the Sutton but failed to. I read in a book about its slope being historic. What decorative features were inside the Sutton?
Thanks to Shade for describing the UA 85th Street. I, too, want to visit one lobby, one auditorium, etc. I don’t want to face a hallway of auditoriums! I didn’t mean any disrespect to 62nd and Broadway. It has been awhile since I visited, and perhaps I should again for another impression.
The Paris is one of my favorite moviehouses. I also enjoy the Tower East (72nd Street). I wasn’t impressed with 62nd and Broadway. What’s UA 85th Street like? how big a screen, how many seats? decorated nicely like the Paris & Tower East, or more like 62nd and Broadway?
I’ve volunteered for more than 3 years to save an original Art Deco showplace, the Boyd, in Philadelphia, and have visited hundreds of moviehouses. The Ziegfeld is not a historic movie palace, but it is an elegant theater. The Lobby has interesting memorabilia from the original Ziegfeld. Up the escalator and stairs is another interesting foyer. The auditorium has chairs with ends that are comparable to those found in real movie palaces. The auditorium is huge compared to multiplexes, and the screen very large. I’ve often gone from Philly to the Ziegfeld to enjoy the experience. Outside of Los Angeles, there are very few ornate movie palaces still showing mainstream (not art, not classic) movies on a daily basis. For many years, the Ziegfeld has been the best mainstream moviehouse in New York City, and is worth a few extra dollars for the price of admission.
Please do patronize the Ziegfeld! Otherwise we will only see mainstream movies in the megaplexes!
Some historic photos here, don’t try to enlarge them without membership:
My September 2005 photo of the exterior is here:
The nonprofit organization is planning renovations. Behind the concessions counter, in the foyer adjoining the auditorium is a wonderful Paramount glass mural. Moorish style sconces are on the side walls of the auditorium. Slides rather than a curtain is currently used, but maybe like the Newtown renovations can include a curtain?
Here are 2 closeup photos of the 1953 Boyd letters on the Cinerama marquee. The Sam Eric letters were removed as part of exploratory work for replication of original 1928 French Art Deco marquee, which will replace the current one. The Boyd letters are corroded so the photos aren’t too impressive, and we didn’t post them on our official site (www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org) but somebody asked so I placed them on a site of mine.
This is wonderful news! Being in Philadelphia, I visited this moviehouse once, and found it to be beautifully furnished inside & with a stellar film presentation. When I read it closed, I feared demolition but instead it sounds like the film program will be even better than the fine movies they already had. Best of luck to the new operators, may they succeed so much they become interested in other theaters in the nation!
May 2005 photo at
current exterior photo at
Exterior photo at
Current exterior photo at
exterior photo at
Current exterior photo,
Although I haven’t been inside since it was a twin, I understand one auditorium is in former stagehouse. The auditoriums aren’t very big from what I hear. There are some interior architectural details one can see, which weren’t visible as a twin.
There are no plans to restore the Bryn Mawr as a single screen theater. There are a few interior architectural details one can see on the interior under current operation, which is better than the Ardmore as a health club for sure. The Ardmore was totally gutted inside.
Official website not working & can’t find a film listing on another website. Did it close?
The City of Chicago will be doubly lucky if the fabulous Uptown Theatre reopens for public enjoyment, and if the paint & plaster restoration is accomplished by an equal gem, Jeff Greene.
Howard B. Haas, of Friends of the Boyd, www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org
The Friends of the Boyd, Inc. (www.FriendsOfTheBoyd.org) LOVE Cinema Treasures for all the support given our cause of saving & reopening Philadelphia’s last movie palace, and for all the fantastic features of this website. cinematreasures.org is a world class website appreciated & enjoyed everywhere. We will live while normal maintenance is done, and look forward to the future evolution of this wonderful site.