Boyd Theatre

1908-18 Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Unfavorite 39 people favorited this theater

Showing 201 - 225 of 486 comments

TheaterBuff1 on May 17, 2008 at 11:03 pm

DennisZ, this upcoming Thursday — May 22, 2008, starting at 11:30 A.M. — they’re planning to have a huge save the Boyd rally in front of the Boyd Theatre. Speakers will include John Gallery of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State Representative Babette Josephs, Adrian Fine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and, of course, Howard B. Haas, Esq., president of Friends of the Boyd.

Also this coming Thursday, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM, at the AIA Center for Architecture at 1218 Arch Street, Adrian Fine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Shawn Evans, AIA of Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, will present an illustrated lecture on the significance and the plight of the Boyd Theatre and place it in the context of a national preservation struggle. The lecture is free. No reservations are needed.

So if you could find a way to attend this rally and/or lecture afterwards and assert your views — which I fully agree with — I think that would be really cool!

dennisczimmerman on May 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I see the TV ads, newspaper ads, and publicity for the new “Indiana Jones” movie opening in a few days. It makes me think back to the first three “Indy” films. I would make plans to travel to Center City to see the film in “70MM Six Track Stereo Sound” at the Boyd/Sameric Theatre. Now we no longer have that choice. Worse yet, even if there were still some “70mm” theatres around, films are not being released with 70mm prints anylonger. It is sort of a catch 22. If there were still theatres, would they make 70mm prints? If there were 70mm prints, would there still be theatres to show them. Anyone who has not seen a film presented in 70mm six track stereo sound has not seen a great presentation. And those of us who have, will miss those days and times. Even now, just hearing the music from “HTWWW”, “Lawrence”,“My Fair Lady”, “Camelot” and all the others brings back so many pleasant movie going memories. I can still picture those red curtains opening on the curved Cinerama screen at the BOYD and would love to see that again. Oh well, at least some of us had that experience to remember.

ericalynn on March 5, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Thanks! I have more that I’ll post shortly.

TheaterBuff1 on March 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Very good photos, ericalynn g.! In an eerie sort of way they remind me a bit of that scene in the 1946 David Lean movie, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, when Pip returns to Miss Havisham’s house long after she’s gone but discovers Estella to still be there. Yet how things do change from what they once were. To think of the huge crowds that flocked to there with the premiere of BEN HUR in the late 1950s. How very different the place called Philadelphia was then. I look to those memories and then I look to these photos and I think, no, they can’t be the same place, the same building, can they? For the one image I hold is so full of life, the other so void of such. Gone now are the searchlights of opening night and the long limousines, the souvinir booklets, the stars in their tuxedos signing their autographs in them, the grand exhibiting of the film itself. THAT Boyd will never be again. It came and went and now it’s behind us all forever.

Yet as I look at this old girl I think, there’s still some life in it yet. And to reveal it, all it would take is a young brash Pip to pull the old long-musty curtains down to let that new light in.

ericalynn on March 4, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Here are some pictures I took of the Boyd/Sam Eric 4:

View link

bruceanthony on January 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

Live Nation held on to the following theatres not included in the sale, Opera House (BF Keith) Boston,Hilton NYC which is currently hosting the long run musical “Young Frankenstein,Warner Washington DC and the Boyd in Philidelphia. The Broadway community is very happy that Live Nation sold these theatres to a private investor who will take more interest in the theatres and also produce there own shows beside hosting Broadway tours. Clear Channel did a much better job with the theatres until they spun it off as LIve Nation.The Nederlanders purchased Live Nations 50% interest in Broadway in Chicago for 60 Million prior to this sale.brucec

HowardBHaas on January 26, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Oh, goodness, I meant to write that “the Boyd was NOT included in that sale.”

HowardBHaas on January 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm

The Boyd was included in the sale.

dennisczimmerman on January 26, 2008 at 7:43 pm

I just saw in the Friday paper that Live Nation has sold their theatres. I was wondering whether the Boyd was included in that sale. The article was in the New York Times and they did not mention the Boyd.

bruceanthony on November 28, 2007 at 9:30 am

Howard, the Nederlanders ran the Merriam the former Shubert for a number of years after the Shuberts moved to the Forrest. The Shuberts were forced to divest many theatres becuase of a court Decree of being a monopoly. The only new theatres that the Shuberts built after the decree was the Shubert in LA which was demolished a few years ago. The Shuberts run 17 Broadway theatres in New York and now only have two theatres left outside of New York, the Forrest in Philidelphia and the National in Washington DC. The Nederlanders run 9 Broadway theatres and run many Broadway theatres accross the U.S. The Forrest and the Merriam as stated before are to small to present large scale Broadway musicals such as “Wicked”, they both seat less than 2000 seats. The Boyd with 2400 seats is the perfect size capacity for the road. I think people who are interested in saving the Boyd should stress this point to City leaders. Live Nation saw that the market in Philidelphia needed a theatre the size of the Boyd for Broadway road productions. Live Nation looked at the Boston market and realized that the Wang with 3600 seats was to large for Broadway shows and the Colonial was to small for many of the large scale Broadway musicals and decided to restore the long closed Opera House (BF Keith), which is now the primary theatre in Boston for large scale Broadway Musicals such as “Wicked”.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on November 21, 2007 at 12:19 am

Not during the current strike it isn’t.

bruceanthony on November 20, 2007 at 8:38 am

Live Nation is selling all there theatres across the U.S with the exception of the Hilton in New York City and the Opera House in Boston due to complicated tax credits with both cities. They want to concntrate on there core business which is presenting musical acts across the nation. The Boyd got caught in the companys plan to sell all theatres. The demand for suitable musical theatres in New York is huge. A Broadway bound show such as “Cry Baby” was delayed a season becuase there were no available theatres on Broadway. The number of Broadway theatres has grown in the last decade fron 30 to 40 when the new Henry Miller opens next year. Broadway is even producing more plays with the new profit formula of star driven limited runs from 10 to 20 weeks.brucec

HowardBHaas on November 20, 2007 at 5:34 am

Live Nation is selling their theaters that presents legit shows, because they want to be a Rock N Roll CONCERT company. That’s why they chose a name like “Live Nation” in the first place. Recently, they sold their ownership interests in the former movie palaces in Chicago’s Loop, because those are legit theaters.

TheaterBuff1 on November 19, 2007 at 11:54 pm

I would find it very interesting why Live Nation finally gave up on its plan, for it to come right out and state exactly why. For I, for one, was never against the Boyd being made use of in this way. But as I look at what’s currently going on up there on NYC’s Great White Way, and with it being very unclear what the end resolve is going to be with that, I look at Philadelphia, where in terms of unions being reasonable it’s the absolute worst city in the world. And when looking at that side of Philadelphia it’s not really hard to figure out, ah, that’s why Live Nation finally gave a shrug of resignation. I’m certainly not anti-union by any means. But in Philadelphia’s case we have what we can call mindless unions, ones who have long lost all sight of what they should be collectively bargaining for and what they should be against. So if Live Nation is having great difficulty explaining why it finally gave up on the Boyd, how exactly do you explain what ultimately amounts to a resistance of shear insanity? For that’s the b—— of it. You can’t. Only that it was able to make the simplest things a total impossibility.

HowardBHaas on November 19, 2007 at 9:32 am

Brucec is correct, but let me clarify regarding particular theaters. Nederlander isn’t in Philadelphia. Shubert owns the Forrest Theatre on Walnut Street. The former Shubert is the Merriam Theatre, now owned by University of the Arts. Each of those is too small for large scale musicals as he says. The Kimmel Center isn’t a venue at all for Touring Broadway shows. The Academy of Music is, as he says.

bruceanthony on November 19, 2007 at 9:09 am

The Boyd is the percect size theatre to house Broadway musicals on the road that is why Live Nation was interested in the Boyd.Most restored movie palaces now serve as Broadway road houses or Performing Art Centers. The Boyd could be a home for Broadway ,Concerts,Dance and Classic Film. The Shubert and Nedelander theatres as stated before are to small for the large scale musicals on the road. The Academy of Music and the Performing Art Center aren’t perfect venues for Broadway shows. The Hippodrome in Baltimore was restored for Broadway shows and the Boyd would serve the same need in Philidelphia.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on November 14, 2007 at 12:57 am

Just for future reference, Brucec, it’s spelled “Pittsburgh”, with the “h” at the end carefully kept intact.

Now as for live performance venues in Philadelphia, while I as a Philadelphian certainly wouldn’t object to the Boyd serving this purpose, the city certainly has no shortage of such now. But it doesn’t have a MOVIE palace, and it needs one badly. And the only opportunity left for that right now is the Boyd. But, it’s Philadelphia, and Philadelphia’s not thinking right right now and may not make it to the other side of this. Several years back I might’ve said, “No, no, this city still has a good chance!” And I DID. But now I have many many doubts. So where the Boyd goes from here is a total toss-up. If it survives in any way as a theater I’ll be happy. But we’ve gotten so steeped in this denial thing that its greatest calling is as a movie palace, and it’s now to the stage (no pun meant) of being surreal.

bruceanthony on November 13, 2007 at 10:45 am

The City of Pittsburg has restored three of there Downtown movie palaces the Stanley,Penn and Fulton all under other names now. Live Nation meant well but they decided to get out of owning theatres and concentrate on them music business which was bad timing for the Boyd. The city of Philidelphia should realize the potential of the Boyd since Live Nation wanted to present Broadway shows like they did with the Opera House in Boston. The Boyd is the perfect size theatre for Broadway road productions, not to small and not to big. The City should take it from Live Nation if they can’t find a suitable buyer at this time and hold it in trust until a suitable buyer can be found. The Nederlanders and the Shuberts both own theatres that are a little to small for touring shows that are presented for a few weeks. Theatres on the road need to seat at least 2000 to mazimize the gross on the large touring musicals such as “The Lion King”,“Wicked”, “Phantom Of the Opera” snd many others. The Nederlanders just bought out Live Nation’s intersts in Broadway in Chicago and maybe could be interested in the Boyd as there primary house for touring Brodway shows. In San Francisco the Curran for decades was the primary house for Broadway shows until economics forced them to make the larger Orpheum and the ugly Golden Gate the primary Broadway Theatres. The smaller Curran is now used for plays and long run of musicals such as “Jersey Boys”. Philadelphia is not a market for long runs like Chicago,Los Angeles,Boston and San Francisco. Maybe the Shuberts and the Nederlaners should get together and form a Broadway in Philadelphia and use both there theatres along with the larger Boyd.brucec

TheaterBuff1 on October 22, 2007 at 11:18 pm

And the number one way to do that is to bring it to the attention of the best possible buyer with its continuing to be up for sale. In the right hands, the potential of this movie palace is tremendous and easily worth whatever the asking price happens to be. It is at a choice location to serve as a prominent east coast destination theater with its convenient closeness to Philadelphia’s Amtrak Station, not to mention its being near to the University of Pennsylvania. And there’s no question it is totally ripe for partaking in Center City Philadelphia’s invigorating renaissance which is now fast oversweeping that part of downtown Philadelphia where the Boyd Theatre stands. A beautifully restored Boyd Theatre is the one thing glaringly missing from that renaissance right now.

LuisV on October 22, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Virtually every American City has managed to keep and restore at least one of their movie palaces. It would be an utter disaster if Philadelphia, one of our greatest cities and whose downtown is enjoying a renaissance, was unable to restore and reopen the Boyd. Theaters like these will NEVER be built again. It is important to future generations that they have a place to connect to how people went to the movies in the past and how the experience was so very different to the movie going experience today.

I live in New York where we are always lamenting the loss of theaters, the latest being the “Playpen” (not the original name, but its latest incarnation). The reality though is that New York still has Radio City, The Hollywood, The Paradise, The 175th Street, The Valenica, The St. George, The Beacon, The Ziegfeld and still others that have the potential to be restored to their former glories, chief among them the Kings and The Brooklyn Paramount. Compared to Philadelphia, this is an embarassment of riches. Nonetheless, it is still painful to lose even one theater because they will never be built like these again.

If this is Philadelphia’s last palace remaining it is important that everyone who loves Philadelphia and believes in its future work hard to save The Boyd! I wish you luck!

HowardBHaas on October 22, 2007 at 11:09 am

Today’s Weekly Update of Friends of the Boyd:


Built in 1928, the Boyd Theatre is the last surviving motion picture palace of downtown Philadelphia. Acclaimed as an Art Deco masterpiece, the Boyd was an early example in the US of a movie palace in the Art Deco style. The Boyd was designed by Hoffman-Henon, architects who designed many of the other movie palaces. The theater’s exterior included a towering vertical sign that advertised the theater a mile away, a public retail arcade and a huge etched glass window with Art Deco motifs. View link

The Boyd has one of Philadelphia’s grandest Art Deco lobbies View link

plus foyers and lounges with dazzling colorful mirrors, marble fountains, and elaborate plasterwork View link

and a 2450 seat auditorium with perfect sightlines View link

The theme of the Boyd is the triumph of the modern woman, seen in the Proscenium Mural by acclaimed artist Alfred Tulk and by artistic figures of women from around the world including the modern American.

Movie palaces including the Boyd were places where the ordinary man could enjoy entertainment in a regal environment. On opening in 1928, for a mere 35 cents, an ordinary Joe could enjoy Walt Disney’s debut of Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie and Interference, Paramount’s 1st talking picture.

Equipped for the change in movies from silents to talkies, the Boyd drew patrons from throughout the Philadelphia area for films such as “Gone with The Wind,”epic 70mm films such as “Ben Hur” and “Doctor Zhivago,”and blockbuster movies like “Star Wars.” Customers traveled from a hundred miles away as the Boyd was the only local theater equipped mid-century to show Cinerama films. Hollywood style premieres were public spectacles, including the 1993 World Premiere of “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington appearing.

Too many movie palaces nationwide have been demolished, but almost every US city has restored and reopened at least one movie palace to serve as a showplace of entertainment and so future generations will know how movies were experienced in the 20th Century.

Help us find more people who can join our cause at

Howard B. Haas

TheaterBuff1 on October 1, 2007 at 11:48 pm

The Boyd Theatre in its ongoing closed-down state, along with many other once-great things that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania once showcased, is reflective of Philadelphia’s current extremely screwed up reward structure. It’s a reward system that elevates the city’s most worthless, unimaginative, uncreative, and untalented elements to the highest level of social stratification, while treating anyone who’s the total opposite — what few if any are still left — as if they are “worthless pieces of trash.” It’s why we no longer see great people coming out of Philadelphia anymore the way we used to, and why we haven’t for many many many years now. As for the reward structure itself, why it functions the way it does is very understandable. For not a single penny used in it is legitimate. A great deal of it is simply laundered money — the proceeds of illegal arms dealing (Philadelphia still ranks number one in this), illegal drug trafficking, fraudulently bilking the taxpayers in the rest of the state and the U.S. for constant bailouts of Septa (our public transit system), etc., medical malpractice and fraud, human trafficking, routine auto theft and, indeed, just about every other vice you can think of. And it is doesn’t help that Pennsylvania’s current governor, formerly the mayor of Philadelphia, can far more be likened to a dictator than a legitimate political leader. There’s absolutely no such thing as democracy when it comes to Pennsylvania’s current Governor Ed Rendell.

And right now with his leading the charge, Philadelphia is about to explode into a gambling mecca with its citizens — whether they be good or bad — having absolutely no say over it.

So against all that backdrop it would indeed require a miracle to bring the Boyd Theatre up to what it’s supposed to be. Short of an all-out revolution, war or purely an act of God there’s no way that I could see it. But with those things taking place I could see the Boyd Theatre being very instrumental in helping turn this city around for the better. Right now, however, it’s “Welcome to Myanmar”…

HowardBHaas on October 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Dreams are great. Reality is that nowhere in the USA is there a movie palace that was built to seat more than two thousand people and still open for daily movies ! There are many movie palaces hosting live performances and some have a film series. Clear Channel believed, and Friends of the Boyd agree, that the Boyd is a viable theater. New owner Live Nation is changing its focus on Rock N'Roll rather than Touring Broadway Musicals, so the Boyd project is stalled.

Advocacy as a daily movie palace, with one screen, would be useless. Bloggers kept suggesting such for New York City’s DeMille, /theaters/501/ and that space is being gutted! There just aren’t enough fans who would keep any theater built this big in the black, not in New York City, and not in Philadelphia.

Friends of the Boyd follow the path that has saved countless former movie palaces nationwide, which is mixed use. Live events will pay the bills and bring many people to the Boyd to enjoy first class entertainment there. A film series of classics, festivals, and premieres, will enable people to also experience the Boyd for film. Restored to its original Art Deco glamour, the Boyd will once again be a showplace and entertain future generations.

dennisczimmerman on September 29, 2007 at 1:54 pm

To add to “My Dream” by Fever Dog on Sept. 9th – I would reopen the Boyd Theatre with the Cinerama screen used in the 60’s,70’s. The ushers and usherettes would wear the style of uniforms back then – red blazers, white shirts, and gray slacks/skirts. I would show only the Cinerama and 70mm epics of days past – “HTWWW”, “2001”, “Lawrence”, “Indy Series”, “Ben Hur”, “MFL”, “SOM”, etc, etc. There was something lacking when the Boyd became the Sameric and that large curved screen was replaced with a still large flat screen. And movie presentations of today are totally lacking the magic and charm of the movie palaces of yesterday. You were transported even before the movie started. As I have mentioned on this thread many times, growing up we drove regulary the 60 miles to see the big screen epics at the Boyd. And I think people would do it again. Give the true movie lover/goer a reason to skip the shoe box megaplexes of today, and they will in a heartbeat.