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King Theatre : I remember lots of late 70’s early 80’s exploitation films first screened in Honolulu at this place originally built back in the silent era. From news articles, Elvis' “Blue Hawaii” made it’s world premiere here. That was probably the high point. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” made it’s inital bow in Hawaii at the King. As the the 60’s came to a close, King fell into disrepair. No upgrades done, just awkward poorly designed twinning. Uncomforable, torn seating, sticky floors, dark as hell, scary looking customers (even during the day) terrible popcorn and hot dogs. I remember seeing the original “Friday the 13th” “The Fog” “Force 10 from Navarone” “ My Bloody Valentine” “ Orca” “ Zapped” “ Death Ship” “White Buffalo” “Rock and Roll High School” “Prophecy” “Prom Night ” “Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke”. The King Theatre closed in March 1986.
Growing up in Honolulu in the 1970’s and 1980’s, this was one of my favorite theatres. Vivid memories of seeing Young Frankenstein and The Towering Inferno in the spring of 1975 (The Towering Inferno had an intermission in the middle of the movie, after a 10 minute break, audience goes back in for 2nd half , I’ve never had that experience again, thought it was kinda cool )
Enjoyed Star Wars in summer of 1977 ( it played there for almost a year ). Alien in summer 1979, and the Empire Strikes Back opening day in May 1980, 3 pm show. ( I remember the the marquee on billed it as Star Wars II )
I was there also on the opening day of Return of the Jedi in June 1983, a full month after it had opened on the mainland, due to to problems with the distributor. Consolidated balked at the distribution demands and waited a month to show the movie in Honolulu. Thank God there was no internet back then posting spoilers. Actual Honolulu premiere was a charity benefit show the night before. But next day belonged to the public. Got to the Cinerama at 6am, line was already halfway around the block. Stood in line for 6 hours. 3 hours to buy a ticket at the box office on the left side, and then 3 hours on right side of the building to get in. 1st 9am show was sold out. I got in the 11:45am show, and had such a fantastic time, I hid in the bathroom and got to see the next 2:30pm show for free. I did buy tons of popcorn, soda, candy, hotdogs, so the theatre didn’t lose out moneywise.
I also stood in line opening day for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in May 1984. Due to school, couldn’t make it to first showing. Saw the second show at 3pm. Found out the first show didn’t even sell out. This was the first big Paramount release to be opened at the Cinerama. Since Royal Theatre in Waikiki closed down in 1982, the Royal Theatre chain only big venue to show it was the Waialae Drive In. They didn’t want to show it in puny Marina Twin or King twin theatres. Most drive ins show double features. But since this was a big ticket, first time ever the drive in just showed Indiana Jones 3 times a night.
The Cinerama had a parking lot in the back and a narrow alley that led to the front. But mostly I remember full parking signs, and always having to to park on side streets during popular shows. They had a small, but well stocked snack bar, and full length mirrors on each side of the lobby. Lots of good times at the Cinerama. It’s now a auto part store, but the facade is still there. Footnote : Obama grew up in an apartment a few blocks away. I pretty sure he checked out the movies at the Cinerama many times.
The Kahala 8 Theatre was opened in December 1986.