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Sounds like that troubled mall is getting ready to be re-done again.
It had major renovations a few years ago so perhaps the owners are trying again to save the mall itself.
Yes GCC did own the bowling alley next door. There was also a miniature golf course outside in front of the alleys. This was taken out leaving a large flat area covered in crushed gravel in front of the alleys,
The alleys were not maintained well and the theatre itself was not really kept up. But for years it was the only place locally to see first run films.
Not sure when the alleys were torn down.
Great work Ron, any idea about the Townhouse theatre mentioned on that list?
Oh I would never part with it Mr LaFong.
Membership card #1763.
More nostalgia for me, the same old wallet also held my projectionist license, expired in 1984.
Comments came in quick on this one. Before I had a chance to add to it.
The original 4plex theatres seated 750, 450 and 2 theatres of 250 each.
Some movie memories of the place.
Opening attractions were 1) Enter the Dragon 2) Happy Mothers Day, Love George 3)Last Tango In Paris 4) Harry In Your Pocket.
Godfather II opened in the 2 biggest houses here and at least one night played in all 4 houses.
Star Wars played a solid year in the big house here.
Stero was added in house 1 for a Fantasia reissue, it was run in magnetic stereo.
Upgraded to Dolby sound, I believe for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Cinema 4 got Sensurround speakers for Midway, they remained for years afterwards with Universal paying a small rental charge.
When the 2 big houses were being split the Sensurround speakers were moved to cinema 3 for Battlestar Galactica, the rear speaker ended up facing the managers office and used to shake things off the shelves when in use.
The Exeter did have a commercial side too. I caught The Muppet Movie there first run, a big surprise hit which is why it likely did not play Sack houses.
Also it hosted the original run of Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Again another BIG surprise hit.
It was a theatre you could become lost in, seemed to have many levels and many alcoves and balconies & boxes none of which were closed off.
Another unique item from a history of the Orson Welles Cinema that appeared in (I believe) the Boston Phoenix paper. It mentioned that what was Cinema 3 was once an adult sandbox.
Got to agree with you, Off The Wall was a really unique place and the short films shown there were almost impossible to see anywhere else. I remember being totally amazed by ‘The Wizard of Speed and Time’ short by Mike Jitlov and a collection of parody shorts that was hysterical. Seeing such hilarious shorts as Hardware Wars, Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind and Porklips Now all done with little cash and just a desire to have some fun. I actually just found my Off The Wall membership card that I bought the last year they existed.
Off the Wall and the Orson Welles Cinema were special places, I doubt you could recreate them again today, but I do wish someone would try.
The riot mentioned above took place at the other Sack house in Danvers, the four theatre Cinema City that is now Hollywood Hits. I was working at the Liberty Tree Mall cinema when the midnight show incident took place.
Some fascinating information on that link. It’s really a shame that there seems no hopefor it as a theatre.
The blame for Bostons complete loss of any classic theatres as moviehouses is twofold.
First was the ‘Combat Zone’ that took a large chunk of Theatre Row and made the area so awful that people avoided it and no legit business would open. Lawyers kept the pron going and the city seemed to be satisfied with keeping it contained. But Chinatown merchants wanted it gone. As a result any building that went up for sale they bought. They ended up owning some small theatres in the area but they were not theatre people for the most part and with Boston a monopoly for movies they could not sell them to theatre companies who might want to rehab them into multiplexes such as happened to some New York City theatres.
The second problem was the Sack/USA theatre chain that had that monopoly. They had no interest in taking over any of the theatres left due to Bostons very intense preservation programs. They fought the drive to make the Saxon registered as a historic building because they did not want to have to restore it. And of course they had no interest in taking over any of the theatres that were vacant.
Thanks vandusen, but I swear there was another theatre at the opposite end of Essex St near the spot where there’s a corner park now. I’m not old enough to have gone to the Empire but I had been to the Paramount as a kid and I remember seeing many double features at the Salem.
Not sure if it belonged to any chain when it was semi-porn.
Yes it was veyoung, see my comment on the boxoffice lines on my Jan 5 posting.
Sacks policy for movies at The Music Hall could be very odd. For awhile it was the james Bond house and other big attractions. But you could also find things like an obscure blaxploitation western called ‘Thomasina & Bushrod’ playing.
Odd story I heard about the place was that the boxoffice had a pneumatic tube connection to the managers office which was used to send cash to be counted. One of the capsules broke in transit and so loose bills kept showing up for weeks afterward when a capsule was sent.
Strange, such an old theatre but you never hear anyone mention it as historic or even treasured part of Boston.
Perhaps because it is used so much and never seems in danger of being closed or demolished.
Snuff is a prime example of the theatre owners saying “pickets sell tickets.” A horrible horror film that was considered unreleasable until someone tacked on a fake ending making it look like a snuff type film. The producers of it arranged for their own pickets/protests in NYC to generate controversy & publicity. And a lot of the public bought it. Wonder if the Boston protesters were real?
I wasn’t sure if the theatre was even there anymore. They did show movies there since I remember seeing ads all the time in local papers for its adult theatrr name ‘The Fine Arts.’
Next maybe you can help dredge up the name of the 3rd theatre that used to be in Salem MA (besides the current compact triplex beneath the garage.) I can recall the Salem Paramount which was demolished to build the garage, and also where I saw my first movie, EM Loews Salem which was a nice if nondescript house demolished to make way for condos. But there was a third one that I recall going to but can’t remember a name for. Likely gone for decades.
I’m not sure who owned it during its softcore days. May have been pre-Sack.
Also to answer WHY theatres close without advance word is because the company does not want any bad publicity and any theatre closing always brings out folks who loved the house. Just look at the few good comments on Copley Place after it closed. If the property is being sold the fans may try to block the theatre being torn down. Perhaps even try to get it landmark status. The last thing a movie company wants is a landmark because ANY changes in the place have to be approved by a commission.
Sack resisted having the Saxon given landmark status for years because they wanted to sell it, not restore it.
The Paris also had a time as a softcore/high class porn house in the late 70s early 80s. I remember a fairly long run for ‘The Naughty Victorians’ and also ‘Autobiography of a Flea.’ Likely others too.
An odd footnote on the Liberty Tree Mall Cinema was it being raided and shut down in 1975 for showing an adult movie.
The movie was ‘Linda Lovelace For President’ which was a softcore comedy, barely x-rated but still enough that the town did not want it showing on a theatre that was near the mall.
The print of the film stayed in the booth for years after that and was used regularly to teach how to put a print together for the platter projection system.
The towns attitude about x films did not apply to the other Sack theatre across the highway which opened with Last Tango In Paris and also showed The Cheerleaders x version with no trouble.
Later the Tliberty Tree showed a reissue of Last tango with no one caring.
Copley Place Cinema history footnote, a spokesman for Sack was interviewed about the rash of theatre twinning going on that were making theatres smaller & smaller. He made the statement that Sack was dedicted to not creating small cramped theatres, then the reporter brought up Copley Place which had been announced with its miniscule houses. The spokesman said something to the effect if properly designed there was no problem with small houses.
Sorry my memory fades a bit.
Right you are br9, the sixplex started as a decent enough 4plex with 750, 450 and two 350 seat cinemas.
Splitting the 2 larger houses there created 4 very bad bowling alley cinemas. The building itself was the a cement block box.
Hollywood Hits actually did a decent job in the redesign even though they added more houses.
I believe the Orpheum had one last shot at a movie run in the 80s when a Paul McCartney film bypassed USA Cinemas and played there for a week or two.
This theatre was a twin to the Liberty Tree Mall Cinema in Danvers Ma built around the same time by Loews.
An odd memory from the Welles that you have to be a Bostonian to appreciate. They had a sign on the concession counter “I’ll have a lodge budded pupcorn."
The same sign was also seen at the Somerville Theatre along with a telling quote for theatre lovers. "There are no more theatres, just concrete boxes at the end of the mall."
Not quite as true these days with the modern multiplexes.