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It opened as a first run theatre in 1975. It was originally called UA The Movies 4. It was the first UA theatre in San Antonio.
The Laurel, then known as the “New Laurel” was the first theatre in San Antonio to install Dolby stereo! The first movie to play in Dolby stereo was 1975’s “The Killer Elite” with James Caan.
There is no way someone could place a paddle in front of the ports in the projection room unless he was 12+ feet tall. The Lackland was one of the first drive ins built with the projection room atop the snack bar. There were certain things that could not be shown, but those scenes were cut out of the film and placed back in at the end of the run.
I uploaded a picture of the front of the theatre taken in September 1984. I had taked over as manager of the theatre. The CSW logo on the sign was Cinemas Southwest, the company that built the theatre. I had opened two new CSW theatres in Waco in 1974. One of my ushers was quite an artist, and he changed the logo on the sign from CSW to Movie One Theatres, the company that owned it during my years there.
The North Loop Drive In, and the Bronco were two different theatres. The North Loop was later renamed the Lomaland Drive In, and two additional screens were added.
I managed the Casa Linda in the early 1990s. it was a very nice theatre that had been “modernized” a few times. The balcony had been converted to a theatre, and it was the best done conversion I had ever seen. In fact that auditorium had the best seats, and the best screen presentation in the place. The big main auditorium had older more basic seating that was too close together. We sacrificed quite a few rows of seats, giving more room between rows, and it made watching a movie in that auditorium much more enjoyable. Both the balcony theatre, and the main auditorium had traveler curtains on the screens. They both had electrically operated masking, too.
There were two small auditoriums that were made from what was originally storage space. One was converted well, with a nice ramp for the seating, giving a nice viewing position. The other had a basically flat floor making it tough to see the screen well if somebody in front of you was tall.
The front sign said “McLendon 3 Theatres” even though we had four screens because the city of Dallas wouldn’t let us change the signage because it was considered historic!
What a BEAUTIFUL theatre. I am glad it’s going to live on.
There is a really nice new elementary school at the site of the old Capitan Drive In Theatre now.
I learned how to run projectors at this theatre in 1971. I am delighted it is again open. It was a bit run down then, but was very elegant anyway. It had a very nice operable red curtain in front of the screen.
Back in 1971, the Texas ran R rated pitures, and the Palace down the street ran G and GP (PG) rated fare.
The concession prices are enough to give me a heart attack, not the items being sold!
What make is the projection equipment?
Bowtie needs to be the recipient of a “necktie party”. I say “lynch” them by not patronizing them until they stop running screen ads. What a way to make the moviegoing experience even worse!
$8.50 for a HOT DOG!?!?!
They are NUTS!
With superb presentations on High Definition TV screens, and excellent sound from even the most inexpensive home sound system, and being able to PURCHASE a new DVD for less than the price of tickets, and WAY less to rent, theatres are going to have to do something VERY grand to keep people coming. Running commercials, high prices, and bad film presentations in auditoriums filled with dregs will be the end of the thetre business as we’ve known it.
In San Antonio, there are Regal Cinemas, AMC, Cinemark, and Santikos. Santikos is every bit as greedy, and screws the patrons just as well as the big boys.
After nearly 30 years in the business, I know where the money taken in goes. The theatres have gone WAY OVER THE TOP with their ridiculous prices. I paid $17.50 for ONE large popcorn, and TWO medium drinks on my last visit to a theatre. That is utterly ridiculous, and to also be bombarded by commercial advertisements for 20 minutes before the show, AND have a lousy screen presentation due to a flickering xenon bulb, made me feel nothing but disgust and contempt for that Regal Theatre.
I wouldn’t allow outside food or beverages in my theatre, but never shook anybody down. The theatre concession prices are WAY over the top now. Many customers have been lost over the past 15 years, and now if a patron tries to bring in outside food or beverages and are embarrassed by the shakedown, they will lose even more.
I have NEVER brought in outside food or beverages, and probably never will, but I can tell you one thing, I WILL NEVER pay the prices I had to pay the last time I went. It will be a snack free performance, and THAT ALSO leads to a less than enjoyable movie experience.
It is my wish to see movie theaters thrive and go on forever, however they are up against HUGE competition from the home entertainment industry, and the film industry itself is in the process of making things even harder for them. The theater industry is not taking steps to make their theaters friendly to the average consumer. Gouging prices, badly staffed and operated megaplexes, not policing them for an enjoyable experience by all, and running advertisements ad nauseum on the screen, something that really made them above the television industry, makes for a place that the average citizen is beginning to loathe. I put 100% of the blame on the big chains. They are the ruination of the industry.
People like to go out, and there will be a few centrally located big city theatres to accomodate them, but with today’s home entertainment systems surpassing picture and sound qulaity of the theatre, the exorbitant cost of tickets and concessions, and the low quality clientele that are not policed enough making the movie going experience less than pleasant, and the film companies considering day and date runs with home video, the neighborhood cinema will become as extict as the drive ins that once thrived in small towns and big cities.
Today you pay a lot to get in to a person whose tattoos are bigger works of art than the theatre’s decor. You pay an arm and a leg from concessions from someone that looks like they could NEVER get a food handler’s certification, walk into a shoebox sized auditorium, and there are commercials for anything and everything blaring out at you. When the show hits the screen, it may or may not be in focus or frame, because the projectors start themselves. If it is out of focus or frame, trying to find someone to tell in a 16 or 24 plex is time consuming, and usually futile. The people in the auditorium are often obnoxious, talk and text on the cell phone, and because the modern auditoriums are so small, they ALWAYS seem to be too near. Today’s movies are ALWAYS too loud, and special effects have supplanted good writing and acting to make a movie stand out. If the movie is a stinker, you leave feeling cheated. Teenagers like this scenario. Adults do not.
I miss the theatre business as it was VERY much, but the way it is now, I wouldn’t go back for any reason
I loved the old “suburban” theatres built in the 40s and 50s the best. You would purchase a ticket from a pleasant looking cashier, walk in the door, and have your tickets torn by a clean cut uniformed doorman. If you wanted a snack, there was a well stocked, clean refreshment stand, with smiling attendants, and affordable prices. When you walked into the auditorium, there was usually an usher with a flashlight that would offer to find you a seat. If the lights were up, you saw an ornate auditorium, and a curtained screen. There would usually be soft music from behind the curtain. so you could converse easily before the show. At showtime the lights would dim down, the film company logo would hit the curtain, and it would open. The show would run, and it was usually an enjoyable experience. If it wasn’t that great a show, one didn’t feel cheated, because a big outlay of money wasn’t forked over for mediocrity.
I do not think prjection is better now. “The Sound Of Music” played at North Star Cinema first run for 88 weeks! There was not one film break, or any snafus during the nearly two year run. The film was scratch-free when returned to Fox. Ashcraft carbon arc lamps put a beautiful light through the 70mm film ruunning through Century JJ projectors. Altec amplifiers powering Voice Of The Theatre speakers added to the enjoyment.
Today’s modern seats ARE better than the Griggs Pushbacks that were in that theatre, though!
The professionalism, and showmanship exhibited in the good old days made for a better presentation. Movies that were well written and acted did not need enhancements like special effects or noise to make people enjoy them.
No one hates the state of the theatre business more than I do. It is a fact, however that the big chains treat the patrons with a “get ‘em in, get 'em out, and soak them for every penny they have with them” attitude. Former good movie patrons have responded in kind by purchasing home entertainment systems, and now enjoy their favorite movies at home.
Many of today’s moviegoers are unkempt slobs with no manners. Few theatres have ushers to keep these unruly patrons from ruining the show for others. I would LOVE to have a single screen theatre in my city that still relied on showmanship, and good screen presentation to patronize. The smallest theatre San Antonio has is a nineplex downtown, owned by one of the Big 3 theatre chains.
I wish I was wrong, but an old showman like me that is totally turned off by, and finds NO magic or enchantment in any theatre now in operation in my city is a downright shame. We have the big chains that have pushed out independents, and small circuits to blame for it.
When I started in the theatre business in 1968, bargain matinee tickets were 60 cents, subsequent shows before 6 PM were $1, and after 6:00 were $1.75, and we had the highest ticket prices in town!
Concession items were: Popcorn 25 cents for a plain box, 30 cents buttered, 50 cent buttered medium, and $1 for a buttered tub. Sodas were 25 cents, 35 cents, and 50 cents. Candy ranged from 5 cents to 40 cents, with the vast majority at 15 cents.
Major oil gasoline was 31.9 regular, and 35.9 premium. Gas wars would see regular gas as low as 18.9
Today’s high definition large screen TVs at more affordable prices, more and more movies being released on DVD earlier all the time, and the film company’s plan on offering films at home day and date with theatres will definitely do the independents in.
Between the rudeness and lack of class of the modern moviegoer, the exorbitant prices of tickets and concessions, the fact that today’s movies cannot stand alone on good writing and acting, but need special effects and gimmicks built in, and theatres have to invest heavily to effectively show the special effects, I see few theatres surviving.
Although I was in the theatre business for a long time, few movies grab my interest anymore, and I seldom go. The last time I went was the summer of 2008 when I took my grandson to see “Indiana Jones. I get passes to theatres from work occasionally, and I use them even less occasionally.
Yesterday I took my six year old grandson to the movies. Thankfully, I used my passes, because the adult price was $9.50! The kid price was $6.00. I went to the snack bar, and no prices were shown on the very nice digital menu board that showed what products were offered in living color and animation. I saw one large popcorn, and two medium drinks offered, and ordered it. It came to $17.50!!!!!!
It has been fifteen years since I last ran a theatre, but this is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous! I certainly can understand high concession prices because the film companies get the lion’s share of the ticket sales, but $17.50 for one large popcorn and two medium drinks is a bit over the line!
We got into the auditorium with our concession about 20 minutes early, and were inundated with commercials we see on TV every day being run on the screen with a cheap digital projector. At showtime, the digital diatribe stopped, and a bunch of previews hit the screen. The xenon bulb in the projector was bad and flickered incessantly throughout the show.
My grandson needed to go to the restroom, so I escorted him there, and there was a bunch of gumball machines with candy in them in the lobby near the restroom door. When he came out, I put in FIFTY CENTS, and got FOUR Cherry Sours. I used to sell Cherry Sours for 50 cents a bag in my theatre’s concession stand, and THAT was twice as much as the stores sold them for!
My grandson did like the movie, but I was too shocked and broke to think about much else!
The business I loved for nearly 30 years has gotten out of hand. I for one do not like stadium seating, digital sound, digital projection, or shoebox sized auditoriums, and I certainly don’t want to pay for that crap with the best part of a $20 dollar bill at the concession stand for a popcorn and a couple of Cokes!
I, and my grandson would have enjoyed that movie just as much in a nice large auditorium with mono sound on a big screen that is CURTAINED before the show, instead of commercials run before showtime. Maybe if all the unneeded extras were eliminated, a new xenon bulb would have been in order, and we could have seen a flicker free show
The Northwest was originally a sixplex built in 1976. They added four screens in the early 80s, and built the four screen annex in the late 80s.
It was once the premier theatre in San Antonio. The annex is usually closed. The ten in the main building are always in operation. The 10 screens were converted (badly) to stadium seating in the late 90s. The annex is still sloped.