Showing 18 comments
They’re now called Sonora Cinemas — same management, though, I believe. They’re in the process of renovating the lobby and adding several new auditoriums.
I always enjoy going here. The clientele (Marines from Camp Pendleton) are a big draw, I’ll admit.
The last time I was there (March 2016) they had torn the seats out of all the older “flat” auditoriums and were in the process of putting in new seats. If the two auditoriums where the process has been completed are any guide, the new seats will not be as comfortable as the old. The newer stadium-style auditoriums aren’t bad, but except for one or two they are on the smallish side. At least Regency seems to be trying to make a go of this theater, which is encouraging.
Pity. It was one of the last non-stadium style theaters. The metal detector at the door was a first-class nuisance but I’ve spent many a happy afternoon in this theater.
I don’t understand how they remain open. Nice large auditoriums with comfortable leather rocker-style seats, but only a handful of patrons at best. They still make you pass through a metal detector at the door — why? No one is going to bring a gun in — no one is going to go in, actually. If they got rid of these, maybe attendance would improve.
About half the auditoriums have new seats — not as comfortable as the old leather seats that rocked back (which the remaining auditoriums still have). They say the plaza is being renovated, but it looks like a disaster area — food court is all boarded up, only two or three active shops. You’ve got to give the theater credit for trying, though.
Had fine old trough-style urinals in the mens' room. You don’t see those much any more.
Hail and farewell, dear Whitestone Multiplex. I have many fond memories of this, one of the last of the non-stadium venues.
Still open as of February 28, 2013, showing first run movies, so where there’s life there’s hope. I like this theater because I don’t like stadium seating, and this is one of the last orchestra-style seating venues. What I don’t like is that the restrooms are located outside the ropes, so you have to show your ticket stub to get back in after doing your business. Makes sneaking from theater to theater hard, but not impossible.
Pity. Another old auditorium-style multiplex bites the dust. When I first went there about three years ago, the crowds were healthy. Over time, they dwindled, as new stadium-style multiplexes opened in the area. The last time I was there was to see the A-Team, I believe. Hardly anyone there. I weep. I truly do.
>> Chris Utley posted: “Stadium seating is "sad” to somebody? YIKES!“ <<
Yes. Consider: Stadium seats are in steeply pitched rows. Maybe a young buck can spring up and down the stairs, but us older folk struggle, especially coming down. And the rows are too long, without a center aisle to break them up. Climbing in and out of a full row is difficult.
The few floor-level seats that are provided are too close to the screen for comfort.
And there’s something lacking about entering a theater through a narrow door that opens into a long, dark, narrow side aisle, groping your way along the walls, as compared to entering via double doors that open onto a wide center aisle.
Where is the charm of these stadium-style auditoriums?
Finally, it may have been bad for the seats, but part of the charm of the old style auditoriums was stretching out with your feet on the seat in front of you. Or at the very least, propping your knees up on the back rest (at least the back rest of those seats that didn’t have built-in cup holders to get in the way of your knees). But there is too much space between the rows now for that.
I know the movie palaces of yesteryear are gone forever. But these modern sterile stadium boxes are nothing compared to them.
Sadly, it will be stadium seating. The old Magic Johnson Theater was one of the last of the auditorium-style venues except for two rooms at the end of the east corridor.
Around 1970 or so the Pontiac set aside every Wednesday night as “buck night” — all seats $1.00. They attracted a large crowd from nearby Paul Smiths College, a culinary school that managed the dining room of the Hotel Saranac, next door to the Pontiac Theater.
Trivia fact: The village of Paul Smiths was the last place in the United States to have old crank-style telephones where you turned the crank to get the operator on the line and gave her the number you wanted to call. That was also as late as 1970, I believe.
Bear with me — it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to Lake Placid. As you travel through town on Main Street, the road turns sharply to the left to continue on to Saranac Lake. If you go straight instead, that’s Mirror Lake Drive. The Holiday Harbor complex was a short way back on Mirror Lake Drive, as I recall.
The newer screens are “sort of” stadium seating — not banked quite as steeply as your run-of-the-mill stadium seating. I prefer the older auditoriums myself; they have not been retrofitted.
I worked with Ray Durkee to restore the organ in 1970, although Ray did the brunt of the work. He and I took turns playing it before shows. The theatre had a huge old American flag with 48 stars, almost as large as the screen. I forget if it was suspended in front of or behind the screen. We would always culminate our pre-show organ recital with the National Anthem as a spotlight illuminated the flag. Such fun!
I remember seeing “Harold and Maude” at the Palace before it opened widely. It may have been a sneak preview. Also “Myra Breckenridge” while sitting in the balcony in front of a row of teenage boys from the Northwood School who seemed rather enamored of Racquel Welsh.
Bob Jensen wrote:
>> Remember that woman who sang “God Bless America”? That was Kate Smith. She had a summer home in Lake Placid for 45 years. Wonder if she ever went to the Harbor Theater? <<
Kate Smith was a communicant at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid. I played the organ there from 1969 to 1971 and often had the pleasure of hearing Miss Smith sing from the congregation. I never met her, though — she never came up into the choir loft.
I have fond memories of the Harbor Theater — saw “Woodstock” there.
A sad, sad loss not only for the Crenshaw district but also for the LA theater scene in general. Truly the passing of an age. Magic Johnson Crenshaw was one of the last non-stadium theaters, with several large auditoriums (and several small ones too), comfortable seats, good quality projectors, and reasonably clean rest rooms. They also had two stadium theaters at the end of the corridor, but who cares? I HATE STADIUM SEATING! And they always attracted an interesting crowd.