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The original seat count of the Loew’s Astor, with the Griggs pushback seats, was 1528. After the remodeling around the end of the 20th century (I forget exactly when that happened) with the new Irwin rocking chair seats installed the count was 1440. The lease didn’t exactly prohibit dividing the auditorium, but required permission of the building owner for any alterations other than replacement of carpet, draperies, wall covering and counters/cabinetry of the concession stands. Three times times over the years Loew’s sought permission to divide the auditorium into 2, 3 and 4 cinemas, but the building owner shot them down each time. It’s one of the reasons it didn’t get its first (and only, by Loew’s) remodeling until it was about 25 years old, compared to 84th St. which had been remodeled twice by the time it was 12 years old.
A similar lease was held by RKO & Cineplex on the National across the street. When Cineplex remodeled in the late 80s they turned the two cinemas into three. When they were getting ready to re-open the landlord came around to look at the place. Apparently Cpx had not received permission to further divide the theatre, and the landlord ordered them to restore it back to two theatres, thereby delaying the re-opening by a few weeks.
Reading International’s 3rd quarter 2016 results, posted on their website 11/10/16 states, in part:
“…We also completed a refinancing on our Cinemas 1,2,3 property in Manhattan to refinance current indebtedness (including paying of a $3.0 million loan to Reading International) and to provide approximately $2.0 million in working capital to fund pre-development work. Our discussions with the owners of the neighboring 2,600 square foot property at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 60th Street are ongoing, focusing on the redevelopment of the combined property (121,000 square feet of FAR and 140,000 square feet of gross buildable area) as an entertainment and hotel property…”
So, the 54-year old Cinema I Cinema II (the original name) days are officially numbered.
Coate: Upon further research I stand corrected. The projectionist at the Mayland told me of some BIG film they played at the Brookgate interlocked on all 5 screens, I thought I recalled Jaws, but that wasn’t it. Whatever it was the volume of business was unexpected so they ran interlocked, probably unofficially, because if they were supposed to be on five screens they would have had 5 prints. Maybe Star Wars?
Loews didn’t do 70mm at the Cedar Center, they butchered the place soon after taking it over in the late 70s by dividing it in half and installing those hated game machines and tile floors in the once-beautiful lobby. As with Loews East and Loews West, both equipped with 70mm and mag stereo equipment, Herb Brown, the Loews DM at the time, wasn’t interested in 70mm and had the RCA technicians set up for only 35mm mono operation after the auditoriums were split. The original operator, National General Corp., did a lot of 70mm at what was then called the Fox Cedar Center.
Well, it’s only taken me about 11 years to correct this. I confused this shopping center with one called ‘The Westchester’ in White Plains. The Westchester Mall I was referring to was in the town of Cortlandt Manor but the address was E.Main St. Mohegan Lake NY 10547. In 1997 the closed and partially demolished mall was redeveloped and renamed ‘Cortlandt Town Center’, a big-box store paradise with Home Depot, Walmart, Pet Smart, and others. The GCC is long gone but an 11-screen UA theatre is there now. The Westchester Mall Cinema I-IV opened in 1975, and GCC’s usual initial lease was 15 years. I had never been there, but I’d seen photos of it in internal company propaganda promoting some program or another.
CT moderator: Could you please change the location to E.Main St. Mohegan Lake NY 10547? Thanks.
Someone long ago told me that this was the first commercially viable 2-screen theatre in the US. I believe it was Abe Geller, the architect, but I’m not sure.
According to Reading International 4th Quarter and Full Year 2015 results dated 5/2/16, they have received the consent of a partner to redevelop the Cinema 123 property. They are evaluating the potential to redevelop the property as a mixed use retail and residential and/or hotel property. They have also done a feasibility study and are in negotiations with the owner of the property on the corner of 3Ave/60St (at one time, possibly still occupied by Yellowfingers, Contrapunto, Arizona 206 and Chatfields restaurants), for the joint redevelopment of the two properties. They add that there are no assurances that they will be able to come to terms with the adjacent property owner.
The November 2005 Loews Theatre directory lists seat counts of the 12 auditoriums as follows:1=306; 2=94; 3=94; 4=94; 5=94; 6=307; 7=186; 8=186; 9=186; 10=406; 11=720; 12=406; Total=3079 seats.
WCPN-FM 90.3 is reporting the fire started in the concession area/main lobby and spread to one of the auditoriums. No word if it was arson or not.
According to WOIO Ch.19 news just now, the abandoned Magic Johnson Theatre is on fire, video shows smoke pouring out of the roof. No cause has been determined. The theatre has been closed for several years, and is now a free-standing building as the mall has been demolished. Some of the other abandoned anchor buildings (former Hornes, Macy*s, Sears, JCPenney) also remain, but there is no mall connecting them together.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the shopping center has been re-named The Shoppes at Parma – you may think I’m kidding but I’m not, that’s really the new name.
Well, not only is the Cinema gone, but the desperately needed sporting goods store that replaced it is gone too, along the indoor mall and the May/Kaufmann/Macy building. The local entities that have owned it since the earth cooled let it go into receivership and then it was sold. The new ownership is redeveloping it into what it was originally – a regular outdoor shopping plaza.
The city has done whatever it has to do to allow a CVS Drug Store to be built on the site of the Parma Theatre.
The Parma residents are ecstatic – after all, no CVS here would mean people would have to continue traveling a half mile north to Walgreens or RiteAid, or 1.5 mi. to the south to visit Walmart, Target or Marc’s – oh! the drudgery!
Thanks to HowardBHaas for letting us know about that article. I note that Evergreen Painting Studios of New York is involved with the Ohio lobby project. Evergreen was involved with the restoration portion of the 1990 plexing of what became the Village East Cinemas, and did a lot of work on the 1996 main lobby renovation of the Loews 84th Street, both in Manhattan.
Cinema 1 had two Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 35/70mm machines from the pre-automation days when they were using 6000' reels. When the automation was installed in 1984 both machines were left in place and operable. The Christie 3-stack platter was installed with additional rollers so it was possible to use either machine which was convenient in case of a bulb failure or some other problem. If the show would stop and the problem couldn’t be fixed right away the projectionist could thread up on the other machine. An unscheduled intermission but we wouldn’t lose the whole show. I suspect when the DLP machine was added one of the V8s was disconnected and pushed aside, but left there in the booth. It’s a big room, as booths go, so it wouldn’t be in the way. Plus I’m sure nobody wanted to be involved in trying to get that beast down all the stairs to the street.
In response to ‘theatrefan’ – Lincoln Square was originally to have a rather lackluster design by Gensler under the old regime at Loews, Alan Friedberg and the USA Cinemas gang. Sony put them out to pasture early in the construction phase and Jim and Barrie Loeks took over. They had Gensler add the indoor box office on the street level (it was originally to be in the window where the video display ended up), they added the 3 cinemas in the cellar, and had him ramp up the overall decor up a couple of notches. For whatever reason they didn’t use his services on future projects (maybe they didn’t like him, maybe he didn’t like them, maybe he decided he would rather design office buildings or supermarkets. Who knows?). When they decided to re-do 84th Street the Loeks' we’re looking for someone who would deliver an imaginative design, not necessarily a carbon copy of Lincoln Sq. They liked Rockwells work at Le Bar Bat on 57th Street, so they gave him a shot and were pleased with the result. And the rest is history.
So who actually has the lease and operates this since Loews left? I’m sure Nokia, Best Buy and now Play Station just pay to have their name on it and have nothing to do with the operation. It looks like they sign on for five year deals.
If they are digital and have kept any of the 35/70’s it would be in the main theatre as there is space in the booth. Cinemas 2 and 3 in the cellar each have tiny booths, originally with one film projector and one 3-stack platter and it was crowded, #2 opened in 1991 with a 35/70 machine. The two small cinemas in the cellar, 4 & 5, shared a big booth with plenty of space, but the screens are so small the 70mm would be pointless. Cinema 6 on the street level of the stagehouse had a tiny booth. #7 in the flyloft might work, the booth was a little bigger, but the screens in 6 &7, while wider than 4 & 5 in the cellar, they were not as wide as 2 & 3. From the beginning the only place 70mm made any sense in that theatre was in Cinema 1, the original, restored auditorium.
In the past couple days on WCPN-FM 90.3 someone was interviewing a woman previously associated with The Front Row theater and presently involved in some capacity with Playhouse Square. I wasn’t really paying attention so I didn’t take note of the names. My ears perked up, however, when the woman from Playhouse Square stated that the State Theater will be closed for a while for re-painting. She then stated that the lobby of the Ohio Theater is going to be demolished and re-built as it was before fire gutted it in the 1960s, which for the most part was the way it was at the 1922 grand opening. The photo on the overview page here is the way it was in 1922. After the fire in the ‘60s Loews re-built it as a typical modern suburban mall theater lobby with red walls, red carpet and flat acoustic tile ceiling with recessed can-lights. The theater by then was on its downhill trajectory (and would finally shut down in 1969) so not a lot of dollars or brain cells were expended on post-fire repairs. Playhouse Square’s remodeling was nice, but in no way resembled the original.
Yes, Cinema 3 was indeed the brainchild of Donald Rugoff. Although I worked for C5Ltd in the post-Rugoff era, I don’t recall ever being in Cinema 3. Aside from its location and the fact that they took phone reservations I couldn’t tell you much more about it.
Cinema 3 (with an Arabic 3, not Roman) was in the Plaza Hotel, in a former disco on the lower level in the northeast corner of the building. When the lease was up in the early 1990s the hotel had other plans for the space, I believe it became a health club, operated for the benefit of the hotel guests.
I saw no evidence of an organ as the building was being stripped to the four walls and roof in 1989 or 90. With the exception of the balcony structure and the concrete box that was the projection booth, everything else, including the closed restaurant, was down the first day.
StanMalone: this was the home office from when it opened until when they merged with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and became Harcourt General. Once that happened the theatre division moved to an office building across the street, the address was 12-something (4 digits) Boylston. The Flutie Pass theatre came along in the final chapter of the GCC story. Maybe certain departments were relocated over there, but the HQ remained opposite the C.H. Cinema til the end.
Back in the day, when this theatre was nearing completion, we were having a managers meeting in the Cleveland division and it was pointed out that GCC Prexy Mr. Smith (as Variety referred to him once or twice), was heavily involved in the build-out of this theatre. In addition to the layout, he picked out the finishes, resulting in the decor appearing a little more up-market than ordinary General Cinemas. Someone in authority told us, with a bit of sarcasm, that Mr. Smith has picked gold-plated flush handles for the toilets and urinals.
Now that the N.A. Super Lux is open at the other end of the parking lot, what has become of this former General Cinema? Has it been demolished, or stripped out and occupied by some retail operation? Any current photos?