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I had my first date at the State Theatre. The movie was “Little Big Man”.
The question begs, with all of that front stage space, why a screen so small? The scope ratio is correct but there was a lot of room to make it bigger.
The Vernon closed on March 30, 1976 with “Bobbie Jo And The Outlaw”. Across town, the Reed Theatre was also closing that night as Alexandria Amusement was getting out of the movie theatre business. I was manager of the Vernon when it closed.
This was never called the Jefferson. The Jefferson was a Neighborhood house in Falls Church. I worked there, in fact during the period when we showed “The Black Hole” This theatre was always known as the “Cinema 7”
The theatre was closed and then immediately renovated into a Chili’s Restaurant. The restaurant burned down some years later and I do not know the current status. I worked as a projectionist here in the early 1980s.
The Centre was operated by Neighborhood Theatres. A.O. Budina designed many of their theatres. I was a projectionist at the Centre during the mid-1970s.
I started as an usher in 1973 in the Washington DC area. We never got paid extra to change the marquee. It was just part of the job. We used cast iron letters that weighed a couple of pounds each. It was great being up there with all of that neon! What a thrill. I’m still in the movie theatre business. Most of it is electronic now. We’ll never see those days again.
My earlier posting should read 1974. Movies didn’t cost $1 in 1074!
I remember going to the Cameo to see “Blazing Saddles”. I think it was 1074. It was $1 to get in and the place was packed!
A note to Jim Macumber, I’ll write more at a later time. It’s always nice to meet a Bond fan. I’ve been to the Crest many times. In fact the first movie I saw there was the 007 movie, The Man With The Golden Gun. As I mentioned in my earlier posting, I believe the economics of a big movie palace being run today as only a movie theatre would be a huge hurdle. But make no mistake, I would love to see it happen. There are some exceptions, of course. One is the Uptown Theatre in Washington DC. I had the honor to work there as a projectionist during the early 1980s. It’s still open and doing a healthy business. I have produced a short documentary about the Uptown that you can see here:
Regarding the above comment that says these theatres “were ruined by greed and neglect.” First, I have been in the movie theatre business since 1973. As a teenager I went to the Riviera to see “Patton” in 1970. I was born in Binghamton, but was not raised there. That said, several of the movie theatres I have had a chance to work in or even manage are like many of the theatres listed in Cinema Treasures. I love these theatres and it breaks my heart to see them end up this way. But one must keep the following in mind and understand it; These theatres were built as businesses by businessmen. They were not built to be temples to the motion picture that would last for
ever. They were to be great places to see a movie that would attract customers! For decades, they did attract a lot of customers. But then in the 1950s along came TV. In the 1960s, people decided they would rather live in the suburbs instead of downtown. So, since they didn’t live in town anymore, they stopped coming to the movies downtown. They went to newer theatres that were being built in the suburbs where they lived. And so the audience for these great movie palaces dried up. But it wasn’t just the theatres that fell on hard times. Look at the other store fronts in downtown areas. I was in Binghamton in June of 2009 and went to see the site of the Strand and Riviera. It was depressing to see these once great theatres left to wither away. But there were also many storefronts nearby that were vacant. In fact, it looked like the restaurant that was in the lobby of the Strand Theatre was closed for good. Movie theatres operate today on an average profit margin of about 3%. That includes selling popcorn and a soda for $10! At a 3% profit, you can’t say “greed” is why these theatres closed. They closed just like most businesses do. When the customers go away, so do the businesses. It’s a shame, too. I’d love to run one of these old theatres as a movie theatre today. But in today’s world where the public wants a choice of 12 or 20 movies to see at one location, it would be nearly impossible. Sorry to be so long winded, but I had to respond to the earlier post. It wasn’t or isn’t greed. It’s just the evolution of society. Sometimes that evolution is pretty. Sometimes it’s not. Regarding these wonderful old theatres, it’s not.
Actually, it was originally opened by Litchfield Theatres as a 7 screener. Regal bought it later with the rest of the Litchfield chain.
I disagree. In the 1950s TV was going to kill movie theatres. In the 70’s HBO and premium programming was going to doom theatres. In the 80’s, home video was the culprit threatening theatres. Now it’s “portable movies” that will kill theatres. Over the coming years, the number of screen may decrease, but exhibitors in some cases are already preparing for that by closing under-performing houses and consolidating many screens into fewer locations.
People will still want to get out of the house and go to a movie just like they’ll go to sporting events even though they can watch many events at home, free of charge. Back in the 1970s, someone said “Every house has a kitchen, but good restaurants still do business”. Good movie theatres will always do business, too. I can’t imagine taking a girl on a date huddled over a a cell phone or iPod to watch the latest in motion picture entertainment. Have we seen the development of large wide screens, digital projection and 6 track digital sound only to settle for a 4 inch screen and ear pods?
Also, I do not believe that content producers can can fund the caliber of productions at today’s costs from pay per view or downloads. Hollywood big wigs and big money stars need the box office revenue to fund their lifestyles. I do not believe they’ll get it from “portable content” and pay per view.
The Robin Hood Drive was owned by Eli Dreyinger who also owned the Flamingo Drive In and the Centre Theatre . I was lucky enough to have the Dreyingers as my next door neighbors as a kid and spend many nights in the theatre’s projection booths.
The only movie I saw there was “The Living Daylights” in 1987. The #1 auditorium had a curved screen and Dolby Stereo. Stereo was a big deal for Myrtle Beach at the time. It is now a restaurant complex.
Here in Myrtle Beach, SC our Carmike Theatres used to run a Tuesday “BYOB” offer. That was bring your own bucket. No matter what size container you brought to the theatre, they would fill it with popcorn for 50 cents. They stopped doing that months ago. This will be a nice incentive to go to the movies, but I don’t really go there to eat.
As I have posted earlier, I was lucky enough to work from time to time as a projectionist at The Uptown in the early 1980s. I recently posted a “newsreel” about The Uptown on YouTube. It consists of video I shot in 1990, 1991, and November 2008. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwPO7JPdKCY
I went to the Strand theatre in the early 1970s. It was right next to the Riviera Theatre. In fact both theatre’s marquees joined at the center to make one long marquee stretching across the front of both theatres. I saw Patton there and remember looking at the lobby cards for Ice Station Zebra when they played that.
I attended the premiere of “Casino Royale” at the Odeon in November of 2006. The presentation was flawless. The Cinemascope aspect ratio was perfect. This is a terrific theatre!
Here in Myrtle Beach, SC we have 55 screens (including an IMAX 3D) Carmike owns 28 of those screens and everyone of them is using DLP projection all the time. The picture quality is terrific. And hats off to Carmike for being the only chain in Myrtle Beach to have each auditorium set up so their Cinemascope picture is wider than their flat picture, just like it was intended to be. Their aspect ratios are correct too.
I was the manager of the Vernon Theatre when it closed March 30, 1976. It was built in 1941 and like most theatres was designed to serve the neighborhood it was in. Our last feature was “Bobby Jo & The Outlaw” starring Lynda Carter in her pre “Wonder Woman” years. We had a 40 foot wide CinemaScope screen with perfect ratios and in the 1950’s and 60’s the theatre was equipped for magnetic stereophonic sound. The night we closed I was taking down the display material from the front of the theatre. A man walked by and asked what I was doing. I told him the theatre was closing. He replied, “That too bad. I USED to come here all the time.” Exactly.
I used to live up the road from this theatre. In fact when it was a drive in I could see the screen from my backyard. The Hoffman and Kingstowne theatres may have played a small part in this theatre’s demise, but those theatres were at least 5 miles away. They did nothing to serve the southern end of the Route 1 corridor toward Woodlawn and Ft. Belvoir. Knowing the neighborhood the way I do, I can say with a strong bit of confidence that the Mt. Vernon Multiplex was a victim of the local crime rate. In it’s day it was a GREAT drive in. However it was never more than an average indoor theatre stuck in a crime ridden neighborhood. I’m sure it’s unlikely that another chain will want to step in a buy this theatre.