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Re: The Ten Commandments. This played very late in many areas of the country because exhibitors refused to pay the high rental terms. If small towns played it at all, it was rarely within the first year of release. The same can be said for another Paramount release of the time, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Many small towns never played these pictures. Paramount also held these back deliberately from the smaller towns, and was judicious about awarding these pictures to only circuits that were willing to meet the rental terms. This was also the era of “pre-release” engagements where only the larger cities would get the picture for a limited time, and then the distributor would put it on the shelf for a few months before wider distribution - resulting in many theatres being starved for product.
This URL has many of the photo collection of the Hennepin County Library in Mpls. There are 1964 and 1970 photos of the Lyric Theatre, as well as a few hundred of other theaters. The Lyric photos are street shots, no interior pictures found.
Photo taken May 2019. Theatre building used as office for Iowa Dept. of Human Services. In late March 2020 the building collapsed. The Waterloo paper and the Fayette County paper had articles, however the latter does not seem to have the article on its website. There are some photos on the Fayette County Newspapers' FB page but information is sketchy.
This theatre was made famous in the trades as the feature of a story in Fortune magazine, Aug. 1948 issue. An article about that article appeared in Boxoffice, 7-31-1948. The Fortune article was titled “What’s Playing at the Grove?"and was about the problems of a typical small town theatre. The article profiled Weldon Allen, who was the owner-operator.
More than a dozen years later, the price has been cut in half https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/489-Broadway-Monticello-NY/11626917/
For sale https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/1016-Broad-St-Sumter-SC/15442832/
It’s listed for sale: https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/114-S-Cedar-St-Manistique-MI/16388445/
Property is for sale. Building and sign still standing. There are many pictures of it on the Loopnet page. Looks like a Jerry Lewis, but no, a United General! Most intriguing is that it was 16mm, according to Boxoffice magazine of 8-7-1972: “Ted Damerow’s Oakland Mini-Theatres has opened United General mini-theatres in Clarkston, Milford and Romeo, Mich. All three houses will use 16mm film and feature family-oriented films, according to Damerow.
The Clarkston Cinema is a 266-seat house located on Dixie Highway and will be operated by Damerow. John Henn is licensee of the Cinema in Milford, a 171- seat house located in the Milford Shopping Center, and the 320-seat Lantern Theatre on Van Dyke Road in Romeo is operated by licensee Gene Powers."
Uploaded an ad from May 1976 with porno in one auditorium and “Gone With the Wind” in the other.
Last known 70mm to run here was double bill of Poseidon Adventure and Tora Tora Tora, both in 70mm, in June 1973. Debut of screens #2 and #3 was 6-24-77. Projected screen image on #1 was reduced to match #2 and #3, the smaller screens. Closed Sunday 9-22-84 – – the three double features were: #1 Gremlins/Police Academy; #2 The Natural/The Woman in Red, #3: Revenge of the Nerds/Porky’s. Demolished in Nov. 1985. Demolition permit issued 9-30-85, with “finish date” of 1-6-86. “2001” played at least 3 times in 70mm, “Zhivago” and “Grand Prix” also had 70mm showings in 1970 and 1971. The last “winter” season was the winter of 1972-73; after that the France Ave Drive In operated only during the regular season.
Re the 1965 article, Scuderi and Minasian/Esquire Theatres were also known as Hallmark Releasing, which hit boxoffice paydirt in 1971-72 with “Together” and “Last House on the Left.”
The first Jerry Lewis Cinema opened in Wayne NJ in March 1970 and East Meadow NY Long Island was the 2nd, opening in May 1970. So the Yankton theatre was probably sometime later. The formation of the company was announced in Sept. 1969 – six months after that, the first theatre opened.
Mr. Hewitt’s comment about the Alpha booth being on the back wall of the auditorium and a person standing up in the back row could block the projector: this is the sign of an early Jerry Lewis theatre – they had “upstairs booth” plans and “downstairs booth” plans and the upstairs plans were developed later. This per company newsletters sent to Lewis exhibitors. I bring up Lewis with Kokomo since I have come across mentions here and there that there was a Lewis theatre in Kokomo but have never confirmed it. The second comment about Alpha being located not in the mall, but in another strip mall behind the mall, gives me the second clue that this may have been the Jerry Lewis theatre, if Kokomo indeed ever had one. The JL theatres were often in oddball locations, behind some other building, and often you could not see it from the street. “Go around to the back” was probably something people were told time and time again whenever they couldn’t find the JL theatre. (I also have a company newsletter that says they had hired a construction company to build all their theatres, and they seem to have had a ready-to-go set of plans that were probably not deviated from very often)
Re the Joe Vogel comment (Markland 5 plex page http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/18563 ) about Cinecom, that seems to be right but according to an item I found in Independent Film Journal of 6-24-71, Cinecom was planning to add a 3rd and 4th screen, of 350 seats each, and they were called “Cinema III and IV” in a large article that mentioned many theatre projects across the country at the time. Perhaps screens #3 and #4 were never done? Were they a split of the first two screens? At any rate, it looks like more investigation needs to be done with the late 60s-early 70s period of Kokomo theatre exhibition. Seems there a few theatres that may be mixed up and need to be sorted out?
Excerpt from Joe Vogel comment:
The August 18, 1969, issue of Boxoffice referred to the house as the Markland Twin Cinemas I & II, and said they were operated by the Cinecom Theatres Midwest States, Inc. division.
I’ve been unable to find anything about this theater between then and 1991, when the November issue of Boxoffice said that construction had begun to add two screens at the Markland 3 in Kokomo, and that the house would be renamed the Markland 5.
Interesting to note this was an UltraVision theatre. That was mostly a Wilby-Kincey ABC feature. Plitt bought the ABC theatres in two waves. The first was the Northern theatres in early 1974; the southern ones were later. Your speculation of around 1978 sounds right to me. Also curious to see the opening feature was “Love Story” which was 6 months old at the time. The 1938 “Adventures of Tom Sawyer” was later distributed by Michael Myerberg and it had some playdates again as kiddie matinees in later years. I remember seeing an IB Technicolor print of it.
From 1953 U.S. Senate hearing:
Mr. NooNE. Will you state your full name, address, and business affiliation for the record?
Mr. BERMAN. My name is Isadore Berman. I live in Los Angeles. I have been an exhibitor since 1930. I am in partnership with my brother, Jack Y. Berman. Prior to the year 1948 we operated 14 theaters. Since that time we have closed 6 of these 14 theaters. We now operate 8 conventional theaters and 3 drive-ins.
Mr. NOONE. They are all in the Los Angeles exchange district?
Mr. BERMAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. NOONE. Do you have some testimony with relation to zoning which you wish to offer to the committee?
Mr. BERMAN. Yes, sir. The system of zoning as set down by the distributors has been gerrymandered around so that the only purpose, as I see it, is to help them get increased film rentals. I have a case here of the picture Quo Vadis. I received a letter from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, dated August 19, 1952, in which they asked me, or they offered me the opportunity of bidding competitively for the picture Quo Vadis on our Vern Theater.
Senator SMATHERS. May I interrupt right there to try to get somethinf on the record? ‘Vhen you say “they” offered you, who offered you.
Mr. BERMAN. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Senator SMATHERS. Who represented Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer?
Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Aspell, resident manager.
Senator SMATHERS. Where is he located?
Mr. BERMAN. He is located in Los Angeles.
Senator SMATHERS. Mr. Aspell contacted you about it?
Mr. BERMAN. Yes. The availability for this run would be September 10, 1952. The bid letter was due in the office of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on August 25.
Well, I submitted a bid for this run before the proper time, and I didn’t hear again until September 3, which is exactly 1 week before the picture was to play, if I did win the picture.
Mr. NooNE. What run were you bidding on, first run?
Mr. BERMAN. No, a subsequent run. The Vern Theater is located in the Boyle Heights section, which is a neighborhood out on the east part of town, sort of isolated.
The remodeling caused the theatre to be closed between June 5, 1949 and Oct. 13, 1949. When it was reopened, the grosses dropped. The Hansons provided this correspondence to the U.S. Senate subcommittee on small business in 1953: “Before renovation the Nubel Theater was doing an average gross of $3,200 per week. We then spent $180,000 on remodeling and added 92 seats, and then opened to a gross of $2,800 per week. Since that time the average gross has steadily decreased until at the end of the first quarter of 1953 our average gross was $2,043 per week. Certainly an extra 92 seats does not justify an increase in film rental in view of a 36-percent decrease in the average weekly gross.”
Acquired by the South-Lyn small chain, Wayne and Albert Hanson, in Oct. 1947. Also acquired Nubel (l/k/a Holiday) at same time. Circle Theatre was closed by South-Lyn on July 23, 1950
There was another theatre in Elma – the Dawn Theatre, operating as of 1953 by Charlie Jones, who was an officer in the Allied States organization for IA and NE exhibitors. References to Jones and correspondence from him were featured in the 1953 and 1956 U.S. Senate hearings on motion picture distribution.
After Allen, the following owners had trouble with zoning and distribution practices as well, and testified at the U.S. Senate hearings of 1953. Taking over circa 1946, the new owners were Albert Hanson and son Wayne Hanson, South-Lyn Theatres. They also had the Arden and Lynwood Theatres (both acquired March 4, 1947) and closed the Lynwood in July 1950. The Circle and Nubel theatres in Bellflower were acquired Oct. 1, 1947. The Circle was closed July 23, 1950; the Nubel was remodeled in 1949.
The 1953 U.S. Senate hearings on film distribution practices had a lot of information and testimony from South-Lyn circuit owners Albert and Wayne Hanson. The Arden and the Lynwood were both acquired by the Hansons March 4, 1947. Due to losses they closed the Lynwood on July 16, 1950 and Circle Theatre (Bellflower) the following week. They acquired the Nubel Theatre in Oct. 1947 in Bellflower and closed it for remodeling between June 5, 1949 to Oct. 13, 1949. They also operated the Compton Theatre in Compton and a Vogue Theatre in South Gate. Son Wayne Hanson testified that the grosses at the Nubel dropped by about one-third after spending $180,000 for remodeling and their theatres had steady losses for most of 1950-1953. Their top complaint was the high rental fees demanded by distributors when their theatres were on a 4th or 5th run, yet they were paying film rental as if they were on a 2nd run after downtown. They argued that the film rental extracted from each run should have been lowered commensurately.
There was another theatre in Northwood, run by Charlie Jones. It was running in the 1950s at least…he also had the Dawn Theatre in Elma, IA. The 2010 Albert Lea tribune article said this new theatre was put into a building that had never been a theatre, so the Jones theatre must have been another building. (I see photos of it are shown here – from the mid-1950s)
Leo Wolcott was the owner; there were 3 items in the 9-26-53 Motion Picture Herald. The theatre was closed one day to install Wolcott’s own invention of a new wide screen, using satin as the screen surface. The articles said he spent $35.03 on the project. He contended that since the industry couldn’t decide on a standard screen, he would just make his own: “Leo’s theory
is that the merry-go-round on screens has run the gamut of ground glass to silver screen to gold fibre to beaded screens to white plastic, and is now back to silver screen again. Leo figures he can afford to junk the satin screen when and if the industry settles on something.” The same edition of MPH said Wolcott raised his admission prices to 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children, and adult admission for Saturday matinees would be 40 cents. Wolcott’s problems as an exhibitor, as well as others in Iowa, was discussed at the 1953 U. S. Senate hearings regarding motion picture distribution practices. It was said that Wolcott would not book pictures from Warner Bros. or RKO, and that a WB salesman had not visited him in several years. RKO complained he would take only shorts, B westerns and old features. Wolcott only bought shorts from WB. He refused to pay the percentages these distributors wanted for current features.
It was still the Vogue as of the spring of 1953. The owner, Homer I. Tegtmeier, testified at the U.S. Senate hearings on small business when that committee was investigating complaints from small, independent theatre owners. He also operated a theatre in Watsonville. He had a lot of complaints about Universal, and was a leader of a group of Northern California exhibitors.
Tegtmeier said the theatre was built in 1939.
In 1953 the operator of the Centre was Homer I. Tegtmeier, who also operated the Vogue Theatre in Salinas. Tegtmeier was one of many exhibitors who testified at the 1953 hearings of the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee that was investigating the trade practices of motion picture exhibitors. Another round of hearings was done in 1956 as well.