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The Very Last Schedule.
Howard, I posted a couple of diagrams of the theater from both the original and twinned layouts. These are based on an analysis of Google Satellite images, photographs and my memories. I remember people mentioning that the theater had an “Usher Room” and I think that it was near the front of the theater, probably by the screen. Do you know exactly where it was?
Looking at the footage that I have from House 1, I believe that some sections (closer to the back of the theater) had older seats while other sections had slightly newer seats. This would make sense because the seats in the back would get less use and thus last longer. The older seats resemble the seats that can be seen in the older pictures of the untwinned theater.
Yes Howard and Mike, that is correct. I don’t remember exactly how they were controlled. I vaguely remember a box on the left side of the projection booth by the breaker panel, with switches on it.
On this YouTube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNnfu4uwCco I have posted some of the raw footage with ambient sound. One of the shots is the full tracking shot from lobby to screen. I will also try to post a screen grab of the full screen.
I’m not sure how to calculate the dimensions of the newer screen. I believe that the seats are original and the isles were not changed when it was twinned. If this is so then count five seats to right in the middle front section. That should be the right side of the newer screen. A couple feet to the right of the left front exit should be the left edge of the newer screen.
Here is the link to the full video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy8l6Rq6yHg
In 1987 I worked for the theater as a Part Time Manager. At that time I was a film major at Temple U. and one night I stayed late and shot a video for a Production class. I just re-edited it from the master tape and CD. Here is a new link to this version on YouTube.
I’ve been looking for this picture for a long time. You can see all three benches and most of the original concessions stand. The wall that has the concessions stand forms an arc with the Concessions Stand, Door to Concessions Stand, A Row of Emergency Exits. Lavatories, and Utility Room Doors. To the immediate right of the camera would be the door to the managers office and behind the camera would be a row of three double doors that lead to the outer lobby. To the left of the camera is the back wall of the auditorium with four double doors and three long viewing windows between them.
This is the original configuration of the main auditorium. When the theatre was twinned in the early 70s a double cinderblock wall was built down the center and a slightly smaller screen was placed a little to the left of the original to create house #1. For House # 2 a screen was built just forward of the right, center exit doors. A hallway was built to connect house #1 with the front right exit. The extra space forward of house #2 was turned into a storage room and was accessible from this hallway. The ceiling were covered with a black drop ceiling and the old and new walls were covered with pleated fabric. From inside the storage room, you could still see right side of the original stage and the original wall fabric, which had deteriorated significantly by the late 1980s.
This is the far end of the theatres main lobby. To the left you can see the back wall of the auditorium which included four double doors and three viewing windows, each with a round speaker over it. The built in benches on the right allowed patrons and theatre staff to view and hear the film from the lobby. At the far right you can see the left edge of the original concessions stand. When the theatre was twinned in the early 1970s, the view windows were boarded up and they, along with the panels between them and the doors were painted red. The concessions stand was also boarded up and a door was added to the left side turning it into a storage closet for the ushers. A new concessions island was built in the center of the near lobby allowing access from both sides thus doubling sales capacity.
Well here is a look at the center today http://www.home.earthlink.net/~kevink12/today.jpg and here is a look which includes the ghost of the past. View link .
When I was a student at Temple University around 1986 I was able to get “Salvage Rights” for some of the equipment for the Temple Cinema “SAC Cinema” Their ticket machine was used by the cinema for several years afterwards. Also, we ended up with the projector lenses, film counter, and winder.
I know that the last films shown were “Kinky Business” and “Passions”.
One badly damaged reel of which ended up at Temple’s Cinema. haha.
Here is a picture that I took of the outside. I have some more of the inside if you are interested.
The curtains in front of the screens could not close all the way. They could be adjusted remotely for different aspect radio films. The sides could adjust on house 1 and top and bottom on house 2.
AMC had a slide show with trivea facts/questions and ads which was called the “Institutional Presentation” between shows. Budco showed spotlights with rotating color wheels.
Ticket sales were mostly poor. I don’t remember numbers. We always had the feeling that the theater was gonna close. The fact that AMC didn’t invest money on repairs and renovations strengthened that belief. There were some rumors that the theatre might be further divided into a four house one, but that never seemed likely to me.
The only show I remember doing well was when we had a free showing of “Batteries Not Included” which was a Speilberg film about small space ships.
Films that I remember being shown in the half year that I was there were Robocop, Full Metal Jacket, Dirty Dancing, many B movies like, The Hidden.
As I stated in earlier posts there were problems with vandalism. At one point someone broke into the theatre and painted graffiti on the house 1 screne. This had a white paint path on it( to cover it up) for months before it was replaced. Mirrors were being smashed and there were several attemped roberies.
It also went through three GMs in about two months. The last one and I did not get along and ended up canning me.
Everyone was angry, stressed out. The neighborhood was going bad. The theatre was clearly dieing.
The little boxes were speakers. The roof was in three layers. When you watched my video, you may have noticed that the stair case went up to a crude hallway. The second door on the right was the projection booth. The left side had windows. If you took the hallway to the end there was a door on the left which opened onto the lowest roof. From there you could take a ladder to a roof over the hallway. From there, you cound enter a door to a large room over the auditorium. This had catwalks and the heating/ac ducts.
Here is my best guess on how the houses were divided. Using a Google Earth photo of the theatre and outlining the area which contained the houses catwalks, I have divided the theatres to the best of my guess. I’m not certain that I have the exit hall right.
When I worked there I did ask a lot of questions and look behind things. So I did a bit of personal research when it was still up and running.
I would say that the split had divided the original house about 65%/ 35% on the middle and the resulting house 2 extended about 75% to the front. I believe that the seats were redone and the screens were reconstructed. From the storage room which extended the rest of the way to the front you could see the original cloth on the walls and the right side of the original stage. I don’t remember exactly how it looked.
Both houses were 35mm. House 1 had stereo surround and House 2 was mono.
First of all here is the link to the Video on YouTube. Please remember that this is from a 20 year old vhs tape, the production had lighting problems and the digital transfer made the lighting problems worse. The good news is that I plan to remaster it someday and repost it.
Giving as much detail as I remember.
The theatre was in the corner of the City Line Shopping Center. There was a large markee sign overlookinig the corner. Under it was a detached ticket booth. To the right was a passageway which you could take to the alley behind the theatre. In this passageway there was a door which lead to a long storage room where the markee letters and a large rickety ladder were stored.
As you go under the markee and around the ticker booth there were glass doors which lead to the outter lobby. It had a concrete ramping floor with a large pattern on it, concrete plant boxes on the sides, mirrored walls, places for movie posters on the sides and a row of doors in the back. The doors on the left were an exit from the main house and the doors on the right lead to the main lobby.
As you entered the main lobby to the immediate right was a red door which lead to the manager office. It was a long hallway with a drop safe to the left of the door as you entered, two desks side by side to the right of the door and a large gray (fairly new) safe (combo was 76 – 19 – 58) next to the last desk. Opposide the safe was a closet with an older, smaller safe, which I believe was the original.
Back to the main lobby.
Beyond the office door (still right side) was a alcove with a door to a janators closet and a door to an electrical room with the lighting breakers. Beyond the nook were the doors to the lavatories. Beyond that (as the main lobby becomes widest) were a row of doors to the outside. The main lobby then narrows a little and there is an area which was the original in-wall concessions stand but had been boarded up and tured into a closet. Inside this x-concessions stand/closet was door which lead to a long room which paralleled the rest of the main lobby which stored concessions.
The main lobby continues to narrow and there are built in benches on the right which takes you to the end of the main lobby. At the end of the main lobby are two doors. The one on the right was a utility meter/break room and the one on the left was a staircase which lead to the second floor, projection booths, heating AC utility rooms.
The left side of the Lobby had the doors to the two houses which used to be one house. In the middle of the main lobby was a concessions stand Island. I was told that in the old days there were small bleechers in the middle of the lobby that you could sit on and watch the film while others in your party got snacks. I was also told that the back wall of the theatre had glass windows and there were speakers in the lobby that you could hear the film with.
The theater was divided in a very reasonable way. House one was still very large and could still seat close to 1000 patrons. House two was created by walling off the right back corner of the original house. Making house two much smaller than one. In front of house two a storage room was created which could be accessed from a door in the front of house 1.
I shot the student film at the end of 1987. It was an experimental composition for a film class at Temple U and was shot on VHS. I have the edited version and all the original footage.
Since I was a Part Time Manager I had keys, and thus could go to the theatre in the middle of the night and power it up.
It starts as a long shot outside and Tubethen jump zooms closer and closer to the theatre and end up as a macro closeup of the front door lock. The next shot is the inside of the main door. It then dollys across the lobby to classical music showing closeups of various features and ends up on the lock of the door leading up to the projection booth. It then jumps back to the lobby and dollys down a dirrerent path and ends up at the door to house one.
It then dollys and pans up the stairs to the projection booth, goes inside the booth and end up peering out the booth window.
It then tracks down the seats of house one (had serious lighting problems) and ends up at the screen.
It then pans up the projector, pladder and automation systems. Then pans up the speaker behind the screen going back and forth.
Then works it way back to the front door and ends up as a shot of the exterior.
Although it had some serious lighting problems, my film teacher loved it.
I plan to re-edit it when I get a better PC. I still have all the elements.
I will post a rough conversion back on You sometime if you want.
I worked in that theater for a short period of time from the summer of 1987 to early 1988. AMC had acquired the theater from Budco a few months earlier in a buyout.
The theater had numerous problem ranging from declining viewings, poor management to even vandalism. The lobby had smashed mirrors and house 2 had one of its wall curtains ripped down so that you could see sheetrock.
Although the theater was in a state of disrepair, many of the original architectural features were still intact. The lobby had many of its original fixtures and there was an old style detached ticket booth in the front under a neon markee. Behind the scenes you could see part of the original theater stage.
Around 1991 the theater was gutted and turned into a TJ Maxx.
If this site ever gets the photo uploader working, I will post a screen grab from a student film that I shot there.