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This is your typical shopping center theatre. I personally would not call it a “Cinema Treasure.” It was constructed and opened initially on Dec. 18, 1992. This was prior to the stadium seating rage and the floors are not even sloped in the theatres. Fortunately, the screens are high enough to still give a decent sight line. The complex was intially operated by Greater Baltimore Cinemas. But less than one year after operation it was taken over by Reel entertainment and became a $1.00 admission rerun complex. After being closed for three months, the complex reopened in Dec. 2002 and has been operated by Galaxy Theatre Corp. since that time. I visited the theatre after it reopened in Dec. 2002. There was no stereo or digital sound. Although the admission prices are lower than most other local complexes.
I still miss this theatre. I was not in it prior to its renovation in 1959. My first visit, as I mentioned earlier was to see Liz and Dick in “Cleopatra.” I do not know whether it was seeing it twice in this theatre, but “My Fair Lady” is my all time favorite film. The first time I sat on the orchestra floor. And, for my second viewing, sat in the “loge.” THOSE WERE THE DAYS! One Stanley Theatre is worth 20 “megaplexes!”
I am almost sure from my first visit to see the original three projector Cinerama travelogues until Stanley Warner sold the Boyd to the Sameric Theatres, the curved Cinerama screen was always used. I remember seeing “Ben Hur,” “Doctor Zhivago”, and even “The Happiest Millionaire” and they were all on the curved screen. Only after my first visit to see the roadshow “Fiddler On The Roof” when it was renamed the Sameric Theatre, did I see a “flat” screen within the
prosceium of the “stage.” The 70mm rerelease of “Gone With The Wind” was shown at the Randolph Cinerama Theatre. The Randolph was converted to single projection Cinerama in 1967.
The first film I saw in this theatre was “El Cid.” I thought for a newer theatre it was tremendous. I also remember seeing “The Blue Max”, “Funny Girl”, “Patton” to name a few of the roadshow films I have seen there. My last vist, was to see the 10th (?) Anniversary revival of “My Fair Lady” which was prior to the Goldman being divided. Never went back after the twinning, because to me that was the beginning of the downfall of this theatre. I can still picture those red curtains opening, opening, and opening. It was just awesome watching a movie on that huge screen.
In Lancaster, PA the King Theatre, also listed on this site, was retrofited to show the Cinemiracle Film “Windjammer.” The Fulton Opera House, when showing films, usually showed foreign or artier fare. Except in the late 60’s when downtown Lancaster’s other film palaces were torn down in the name of urban renewal. Then the Fulton showed first run films as it was the only theatre left in downtown. And this was after the “foundation” had taken it over, but before it’s restoration. Now, the theatre is no longer equipped for projecting films. Which, I think, was a mistake. It would have been a nice theatre to see “classic” films.
If my memory also serves, many years ago this theatre was operated by Stanley Warner, however I am not sure. Since the World Theatre was an “independent” maybe this one was too. Some years ago it was taken over by United Artists. I am pretty certain they are the ones that “twinned” it. And to this day it is a twin theatre. Now it is operating as an independent. The same operator has the Baederwood 4 in Jenkintown, PA. However, I believe the Bryn Mawr hospital has actually purchased the theatre building and a number of other buildings along Lancaster Ave.
The Eric Rittenhouse Square Twin was opened by Sameric Theatres in 1968. The twins were closed on June 12, 1985. When they reopened on June 28, 1985 there was a third theatre added which was previously a furniture store, which was located between the original two theatres. A fire damaged the buildings on Dec 14, 1994 and the theatres were never reopened. I was wondering whether this building is one of the buildings scheduled to be demolished for a parking garage and a multiplex theatre operated by Ritz Theatres?
Originally located here was a single theatre operated by Stanley Warner. I believe it opened sometime in the 1960’s. I attended the reserved seat engagement of “The Sand Pebbles” at this theatre in 1967. I believe it was the first time a “roadshow” attraction did not open in Center City. It also had the “roadshow” engagement of “Becket”. This was a very “palatial” 1960’s theatre when it was operated by Stanley Warner. I do not know when it was twinned. But I think after that it was demolished and replaced by the Cheltenham Square 8 which is operated by United Artists.
According to my records of newspaper articles when both theatres were twinned that I added to my theatre information file, The Midtown, twinned in 1980 had 600 seats in each theatre. The Regency, twinned in 1976, ironically also is listed as having 600 seats in each theatre.
I was wondering why for this listing, which I had added as one of my first “comments” upon joining in April is “contributed by Cinema Treasures?” There was no listing for this theatre until I “contributed” the above. thanks!
You really missed the movie going experiences of the Stanley and Fox Theatres. As much as I have my fingers crossed that the Boyd gets refurbished and back on “active duty” again, the Stanley Theatre was superior to the Boyd in plush and richness. I still remember the first time I saw a movie at the Stanley – “Cleopatra” with Liz and Dick. I was awed at the size of the theatre. It was a palace in every sense of the word. The Fox was another gorgeous theatre, but I only went there towards the end of its existence when they did manage to present a few films in 70mm! I am trying to get a hold of some pictures of the inside of the Stanley. I have snaphots that I took from the street of the marquee back in the days of the roadshow attractions.
Was in the Midtown a few times to see “Sound of Music”, “Far From The Madding Crowd,” “NIcholas an Alexandra,” and “Young Winston”. Never went back after it was twinned. It would have been interesting to see how it was done, but more disappointing than interesting. It was a long theatre with the exit doors underneath the screen in the front of the theatre if I remember correctly. Never was in the Regency Theatre. We traveled to Philadelphia to see the “roadshow/reserved seat” films almost exclusively. Especially after Lancaster, PA tore down their four movie palaces downtown in the name of urban renewal!
The Regency Theatre was opened by William Goldman Theatres in the mid to late 1960’s. I remember reading that he was so upset because the Midtown Theatre lost the engagement of “Doctor Zhivago” to the Boyd Theatre because of the popularity of “The Sound of Music” that he built the Regency Theatre. It opened as a single screen and was twinned some years later. The Regency, Duke and Duchess theatres was demolished to make way for the Liberty Place buildings. The Fox,Milgram, Stage Door theatres were demolished to make way for another completely different office building. These last three theatres were on Market St. While the Regency, Duke, Duchess were on Chestnut St. in another block.
The National Theatre was opened in Dec. 1972 by Mann Theatres. In 1978 Cinema 5 Theatres took over. In 1981, Cinema 5 theatres were taken over by RKO/Century/Almi Theatres. Cineplex Odeon took over RKO theatres in 1986. The theatre originally had 1,445 seats. It was closed for twinning on Jan. 4, 1982. Reopened as the RKO National Twin on 3/19/82. National closed again on 4/19/87 for remodeling. This is the time they triplexed it without landlords permission. Reopened as the Cineplex Odeon National Twin on June 12, 1987. Closed as a theatre the end of 1997 or Jan. 1998, if my theatre notes are correct.
Seth – Back when the center city theatres were almost exclusively operated by Stanley Warner, Goldman, and Milgram their usual policy was having “an all day preview day.” On opening day of their next attraction they also showed the film that was showing there until the day before. The theatres used to advertise “all day preview see two pictures for the price of one.” Nowadays you cannot go in a theatre during the film presentation and stay to see what you missed on the next showing! Of course, that was back when the movies were showing in “palaces of 1,000 seats or more” and not the shoeboxes of today.
The Arcadia Theatre and the Trans-Lux were two different theatres. They we both in the same block of Chestnut street, however, they were a few doors apart from each other. The Trans-Lux later was purchased by the Sameric Theatre Co. and renamed the Eric’s Place Theatre. It closed many years ago. I was never in the Arcadia Theatre, but attended a few films at the Trans-Lux prior to its Eric’s Place days. It was a small theatre with only about 300 seats if my memory serves me correctly. I remember passing the Arcadia after it’s conversion to a Roy Rodgers. But have not been in Center city Philadelphia in about 15 years.When the Liberty Place towers were built, Center City lost the Duke and Duchess Theatres (Sameric) and the Regency Twin which was built by the Goldman Theatre Co.
I have been following with great interest all the comments about 70mm film presentations. Being from Lancaster, PA I have never attended a film at the Ziegfeld. However, back in the good old days of movie going I did patronize the Loew’s Capitol, Loew’s State (prior to “piggybacking”), Criterion, Rivoli, Warner, DeMille Theatres on visits to NYC and the desire to see “70MM Roadshow presentations.” When NYC was not on the plans, there was always the center city Philadelphia Theatres – Boyd, Stanley, Fox, Randolph, Goldman, Midtown. Now all but the Boyd in Phila. and DeMille in NYC are history. Count me in as a possible attendee of 70MM films at the Ziegfeld. I would love to sit in a theatre, actually see the curtains open as the lights dim, and then see a “giant screen presentation.” If anyone gets to the Central Penna. area, I would strongly suggest you check out the Allen Theatre in Annville, Pa. It was a small town run down theatre that a theatre lover restored. It actually has a curtain that “hides” the screen. And, although, it may not be a 70MM size screen, it is certainly the largest in the area that we have available. Anyway, bring back the old days when movie going meant more than sitting in a shoebox. The show started at the box office!
I have never been in the Astor Plaza, but based on the information here, this theatre “should be a keeper.” However, I want to make a correction to MikeRa statement on May 26th. “Star Wars” did play at the Eric’s Place Theatre in Philadelphia. However, that theatre did not present films in 70mm. It was too small. The screen area was between two exit doors. The theatre only had no more than 400 seats. It was the Trans-Lux originally before being taken over by Sameric Theatres. “Star Wars” moved from the Eric’s Place to the Eric’s Mark 1 a number of weeks after its opening. The Mark 1 was capable of showing 70mm, but the screen size still did not compare
to the Sameric/Boyd Theatre a few blocks away. Hence when the next two “Star Wars” films were released, they were both shown in “real good” 70mm on the real large screen of the Sameric/Boyd Theatre. Both the Eric’s Place and Mark 1 have long since been closed. The Sameric/Boyd Theatre, the last movie palace in center city, has been closed for two years now. But there is great support to restore and reopen this movie palace. I attended the “roashow” showings of “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” and “Ryans Daughter” at the TransLux (Eric’s Place) and on my first visit for “Flying Machines” was extremely disappointed on the screen size for a roadshow presentation.
If my memory serves me correctly, Budco Theatres purchased the William Goldman Theatre Co. Budco operated many suburban theatres in the Philadelphia and surrounding counties. However, they did not operate any center city theatres until they purchased Goldman theatres. Budco was eventually purchased by AMC Theatres. The Randolph Theatres was converted to Cinerama in 1967. It’s first Cinerama film I believe was “Grand Prix.” It also played “Ice Station Zebra” and “2001.” I believe the Cinerama Screen was still in the theatre when it closed with the roadshow engagement of “Tora, Tora, Tora.”
One of my first visits to the Rivoli Theatre was to see the 70MM reissue engagement of “Gone With The Wind.” Stupendous is the only word to describe the theatre and my first viewing of GWTW. This was truly a motion picture palace. Anyone today who has only been to the movies at the megaplexes has not been to the movies! To anyone who attended the movies at the palaces, those days will always be missed. On visits to New York City, walking past 1620 Broadway, I remember what it used to be. Same with the Capital, up the street. Some day, more people will regret the demoltions that we allowed to happen in “the name of progress.”
Another great movie palace permitted to be demolished. For many years I would walk past this theatre on my way to the Stanley, Boyd, Goldman, Midtown, or Randolph. The Fox did not play any of the 70mm films until near the end of it’s existence. I did see “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Superman 1” at the Fox. Only then did I appreciate what I had been walking past all those years before. Having visited the theatre during its “pre-demolition sale” I have in my collection a poster of “Star Trek,” a marquee letter, and piece of marble from the lobby. Again, what a waste!
Next to the Boyd/Sameric Theatre, The Stanley Theatre was probably the theatre I traveled from Lancaster to patronize the most. My first visit was in 1963 to see Liz and Richard in “Cleopatra.” When those giant silver curtains opened to reveal the stage and huge screen, anyone had to be amazed. Of course, anyone who saw “My Fair Lady” there can never forget the experience. “The Great Race,” “Camelot”, “Finian’s Rainbow”, “Hawaii” are just a few of the 70mm presentations at this true movie palace. I can still picture the mahogany paneling in the upstairs lobby. Oh what moviegoing was like back in those days! People actually went to see the movie and not chit chat, talk on their cell phones, or whatever. Bring back the Stanleys, Boyds, States, Capitols, etc. The shoebox multiplexes of today just don’t compare!
In reference to Mikeoaklandpark question above. The Cinerama Screen was installed in the early 1950’s. The Boyd showed all the original Cinerama travelogue films – “Search For Paradise”, “7 Wonders of the World.” Then later with “Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm,” “How The West Was Won”, “Mad World,” “Circus World”, “Hallelujah Trail”. Then in the late 1960’s the Randolph Theatre was converted to the one projector Cinerama process. That theatre presented “Grand Prix”, “Ice Station Zebra” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The Cinerama screen remained in the Randolph till the theatres demolition. However, when Sameric took over the Boyd
Theatre in 1971, the curved Cinerama Screen which extended out past the side exits on either side of the stage, was removed. I would love to see pictures of the installation of the Cinerama screen and the additional two projection booths at the Boyd when that was done. The original Cinerama process required three projectors to fill the screen. My first visit to the Boyd was to see the Cinerama traveloques.
I have been a contributor to the Save the Sameric Foundation since it first started. Even living in Lancaster, PA, about 60 miles from Center city Philadelphia, I patronized this theatre many many times. From the early Cinerama Days as a child to the roadshow films of “Ben Hur”, “Dr. Zhivago,” and the 70mm showings of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films. It was worth the trip. Many times making a day of it. Shopping in Wanamakers, dinner somewhere, and then the Boyd/Sameric. I have wondered why they have not used “tours of the theatre” as a fund raiser. I have not been in center city since the last “Indiana Jones” film played at this
theatre. However, to take a tour I would travel in. Also, could not a book be published of pictures and history of this theatre. It is too important not to miss out on any fund raising events. I would also attend the Stanley, Fox, Midtown, and Goldman Theatres to see the big screen film presentations. They are all gone now, sadly missed by any true film/theatre fan.