Showing 201 - 225 of 329 comments
In 1998, GCC decided that they needed to save on payroll, so they bumped the union from full time operation, to weekends only. (In Chestnut Hill and many other locations) When the quality presentation became second to money, and the attention to the floor operation was diverted to the booth, it became painfully obvious that the “good ole days” were past. A single screen in an old downtown theatre would be a pleasure, I’m sure. In the old days, the theatre manager was a well known fixture in all the small towns all over the country. And you could find him standing in the lobby, greeting the patrons. Today, you’ll have a hard time finding him.
Jaws opened in Framingham the same month I was promoted from Assistant Manager in Framingham, to my first theatre as a Manager, at the Worcester Center Cinemas I, II, and III. The Manager in Framingham was Jim Mahoney, who was there for about a year, before transferring to Hanover. I became the Manager of Framingham in Sept of 1977, just in time for films like American Graffiti, Saturday Night Fever, Animal House, Poltergiest, Empire Strikes Back, and many other blockbusters from 1977 until I transferred to Braintree in 1983. We held an advance screening of the Blues Brothers one night to a full house, and John Landis came in to check out the audience reaction. (I got him to sign a still, which I still have. He wrote, “to the Cinema Crew, get back to work!”
My descriptive “only” was in reference to your position. Managing one of GCC’s top 10 was a pretty darn good job too. Lots of hours, (about 60 a week, but in those days it was fun. We had occasional trade screenings for the buyers and once in awhile a special event)
I’m out of the business now, but still get national weekly grosses via email.
Thanks for posting your excellent site. The photos deserve an audience, and CinemaTreasures has it. Including the topographical views of the drive ins is a fine bonus bit of research that must have taken a lot of time.
I was only a theatre Manager, but from 1986 to 1999 ran the Chestnut Hill theatre across the street from the Home Office and next door to Corporate Harcourt. I began working in Management in 1972 and ran one of their busiest theatres, Framingham from 1977 to 1983.
The buyer you mention is a familiar name, but I don’t think I ever met him. I knew Chuck Mason, Carl Bertolino, and a few others over the years. I think GCC’s problems were due in part, to poor leases on newer locations, negotiated in the 1990’s. At one point, they provided everyone with monthly balance sheets on every theatre so that we would be better informed. I wish I had saved a few. They stopped doing it after about 3 or 4 months. This was after Corporate spun off the theatre division. At that point, I think the Smith family was more interested in the Neiman Marcus and Harcourt business.
I was referring to Bill Doeren and Dan Stravinski. When I was with GCC, Doeren joined them as President of the Theatre Division after having “left” AMC. He brought Dan Stravinski with him and within about 3 years, General Cinema Theatres declared bankruptcy.
Mike H could probably tell us some interesting stories about the former head of AMC and his partner, who left AMC to run General Cinema until it went bankrupt, about 3 years after they took over. I’m just not sure where the appropriate place is, to discuss individuals, rather than buildings.
Another way of maximizing profits, was to run the new hit first, and then to get the overflow from a sellout into films that had been playing longer, thus increasing exhibitor’s revenue. Everyone was a winner, because the distributor was able to get longer engagements, and the exhibitor had better percentages into the run.
Of course in those days, sellouts happened nearly every weekend. I’m not sure this is the case anymore.
I wonder whatever happened to William Doeren when GC Theatres went bankrupt a couple of years after this announcement?
I thought I was reading an article out of a time warp. Sundance Film Group was negotiating with General Cinema around 1991 to do the same thing. Guess it fell through.
Perhaps one film was playing on the two screens. Opening night was for press and dignitaries, and Ben Sack gave out mini champagne bottles with labels named “Cheri”. Izzy Strier and Joe Luongo were opening night managers.
[quote]The Cheri was a single theatre when it opened, and later split, with the third auditorium up on street level later.
posted by dwodeyla on Mar 6, 2005 at 11:57am[quote]
I’ll have to admit I was a bit confused, and reference my earlier post. I forgot all about the Symphony, (I Am Curious Yellow) and thank Ron for checking the newspapers. Sometimes we oldtimers need a refresher on our memory!
The Cheri was built as a twin, side by side auditoriums, and the third screen was added above, a couple of years later. This would have been Boston’s first multi-plex.
When you entered the lower lobby coming down the stairs from the street, you would have seen a concession stand in the center of the lobby in front of you. Behind it, Cinema I, which would be considered the “main theatre”. (as I remember it, anyway) To the right, up a couple of stairs, was auditorium number 2. Go up the elevator, and you would find another concession stand, and a small auditorium number 3.
Same theatre, the name changed for a short time. I haven’t looked at enough microfilm to get the exact dates.
The formica wall behind the stand was red white and blue. I started managing that theatre in 1986, at the point where the concession area was being demolished for the new design by Cambridge 7. The original ottomans were red velour. The new design was a medium grey for the brick lobby areas, concession running straight across with lit back bar graphics, and the dark blue carpet replacing red. (The original solid red was long gone by ‘86) Replacing the ottomans, were light oak benches, and the original white metal seats were replaced with gray plastic backs with blue fabric. (the auditorium floors were painted grey to match. They had been red)
As for the date in the photo on the web page, it may be an error. The two films mentioned by ErikH are the correct opening week films.
Actually, they would probably hurt the Embassy, as there’s only about 5 miles between them. I wonder who will book the film?
They could become the “new” General Cinema Corporation. I don’t think identification such as “brand identity” matters, and that theatre could play art like the Waltham Embassy and be extremely competetive in the market. Don’t be surprised if that’s the strategy. When Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas were beginning, Paul Delrossi developed a bit of a relationship and many thought Chestnut Hill was the perfect location for that product.
Sounds more like an insider knows how lucrative the investment would be. Joe ODonnell was a close personal friend of Paul DelRossi, former President of General Cinema Theatres.
I think my tongue was clearly in cheek about an invoice. However, I won’t be surprised if I get a request for a $15 research fee. Here’s one of those places where a smilie and a wink would go.
A picture of the curtain would be nice. I accidently emailed the Theatre Historical Society President with a request for one…ooops, here comes an invoice!
Loews got a lot of press for doing nothing special. Most movie fans enjoy coming attractions, but hate the commercials that run before them. Most theatres also advertised showtimes usually including about 7-12 minutes of trailers. What everyone hates, are the 15-20 minutes of commercials that run before the trailers. But if you want to get a decent seat, you have to arrive during those commercials anyway. So the advertised times hoopla, is really a lot of hype over nothing.
I wonder if the gray sides were the same metal General Cinema used in all their auditorium sidewalls? Maybe they extended them to the sides of the screens here.
Was the Circle the first Showcase theatre? If not, do you know what was? I’m enjoying your anecdotes regarding the various Boston area theatres and hope you’ll keep us informed with more.
The people running it explained that it had been a strip club for years before they took it over in the early 90’s.
I meant to the right of the Howard Johnson sign. You can see the narrow space which was the stairway, the theatre was to the left of the stairs above HoJos.