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Lehigh Valley PBS Channel 39 has recently done a piece about the Roxy Theatre on their program FOCUS. The portion about the theatre starts at the 14 minute mark.
I believe that theatre 3 is the Eric Reading which was located on the 5th Street Hiway (Rt.222)just a few miles north of the city. It was at the end of a row of stores on the left end with parking going around the left side just like in this picture. It stood next to an A&P market which was to it’s right on a slight angle. It was one of those red brick colonial A&Ps. You can see some of the side brick wall of the A&P in the photo.
That’s interesting. I just tried it and that happened to me as well.I posted the exact same address at bigscreenbiz.com and it works there. I thought maybe I had somehow made a mistake, but it seems to be exactly the same. It fact I copied it from there and pasted it here, so it has to be the same.
I hate to send people elsewhere, but if you want to see it go to www.bigscreenbiz.com and click on FORUMS, then click on The Back Office, and finnally click on GOOD PUBLICITY never hurts.
That way you can get to see it by way of the back door.
Here is a link to some recent publicity that was given our theatre by WFMZ TV69 in Allentown.
I was looking forward to meeting you some time back when you were going to visit my theatre in Northampton, but that never happened. I always enjoy reading your posts.
The General Cinema Lehigh Valley Mall theatres were built in a strip center to the east of the indoor Mall outside of the ring road that surrounded the mall. It originally had, going from left to right, an Acme market, several small shops, the theatre, and an Oriental restaurant. The theatre opened as a tri-plex. The entrance lobby was at the extreme left side of the theatre property. The entrance doors were flush with the building line. You then entered a shallow vestibule and went through a 2nd set of doors into the main lobby. Just inside the doors was a large island type open counter box office. The lobby was L shaped and went off to the right behind the oriental restaurant. The original refreshment stand was around the corner to your right as you made the turn into the L. The 3 auditoriums were then to your left. If you continued on to the right beyond the concession stand there were stairs that took you up to the rest rooms. The largest auditorium was straight ahead behind the box office area and sat over 500 people. The other two that were to the right probably sat between 250 and 350 people, but that is just a guess on my part. In the far left corner of the lobby was a door to a 2nd private staircase to the 2nd floor which gave access to both the office and the projection booth. This is the way I was sent whenever I stopped by to see Mr. Klaas, the managing director. There was also an entrance to that area from the public hallway that led to the rest rooms as well. In the late 70s the store to the left of the theatre came available and was converted into 2 more screens in a back to back arrangement. The one screen was against the front wall with the exit doors coming out onto the sidewalk just to the left of the theatre entrance, while the other screen was at the back of the building with its exits going out the rear. Rather than dig out a deep pit to create the slope of the auditoriums the rear of each auditorium and the hallway that separated them were raised about 5 feet. In order to get to this hallway a section on the far left side of the original 500 seat auditorium had to be eliminated so a hallway could be built from the main lobby to the cross hall separating the two new auditoriums. After going down the hallway from the lobby you made a left turn and then went up a set of stairs to get to the new hallway between those auditoriums. As mentioned above they were not ADA accessible. They were built before the ADA existed. The refreshment stand was moved to be directly in front of the large auditorium directly behind the box office which put it in a more centralized location to service patrons going to any of the now 5 screens. The original location was somewhat hidden and out of site when people entered the complex. Iâ€™m not exactly sure about this, but I seem to recall that they actually moved the refreshment stand to that new location even before they added the 2 new screens. Sometime in the early to mid 80s the theatre expanded again, adding 3 more screens, making it an 8 plex. This time an addition was added to the strip center to the right of the oriental restaurant creating an entirely new entrance and lobby. The entrance was on the corner with a conventional box office with a window to the outside, and entrance doors on either side. Inside was a large island type refreshment stand in the center of the lobby. Behind the lobby the 3 new auditoriums were laid out with two going off to the right, one behind the other, and one to the left of the others going straight back parallel to the original ones. The original auditorium #3 was shortened to allow the lobby to connect with the original theatres lobby. The concession stand in the original lobby was used as a 2nd stand when business warranted. The original entrance to the theatre was now used strictly as an exit to keep most of the exiting traffic out of the new lobby. They added a first floor handicap rest room at this time as well. A few years later, for a reason that I never quite understood, they removed the island refreshment stand and built a new straight counter one in front of the left wall of the new lobby. At the same time they enclosed in glass the sidewalk going around the corner where the box office was located, which then put the box office window inside an enclosed vestibule. The last few years that the theatre operated, I seldom went there. I donâ€™t know if it happened while GCC still operated it or if it was after AMC took over, but the lobby was re-carpeted with a dark blue carpet and the ceiling tiles were also painted a dark blue and the lobby was literally filled with video games giving it the feel more of an arcade than a theatre lobby. One Saturday night shortly before they closed some of my staff convinced me to go along with them to a midnight movie after we closed our theatre. It was a sad sight to see. A theatre that was for many years the areaâ€™s finest multi-plex and busiest venue was now overrun by rowdy teens, was dirtyâ€¦ a complete mess. I felt completely out of place. I had to be the oldest person there. Maybe it was just because it was a midnight show, but regardless, even if it had been clean and without the rowdies, it didnâ€™t have the class that it had previously. I knew the end had to be near. And to confirm what someone posted above. I never operated the Lehigh Valley Cinemas, but did operate the Plaza Twin across the street inside the Whitehall Mall. I had to vacate that theatre when they decided to tear down most of that mall to redesign it as a strip shopping center. Although the theatre wasnâ€™t torn down, it wasnâ€™t in the malls plans to keep a theatre there and it was converted into a gym. The Lehigh Valley Cinemas were indeed torn down and replaced with a new retail building. For many years Whitehall was the movie center of the Lehigh Valley. Now there are no theatres in Whitehall at all even though it still is the retail center of the valley. The closest theatre to Whitehall is my Roxy Theatre in Northampton which is about three blocks beyond the Whitehall Township line in the Borough of Northampton.
Here are some recent pictures of the Roxy lobbies taken on Sat. April 16th.
We have just completed restoration of our auditorium this past December, and have had it professionally photographed. We here at the Roxy are quite pleased with how the restoration has turned out.
Here are links to the photographs:
Hey, it worked. Since I succeeded at that, I’ll post a link for the other part of the story as well.
I would like to bring to everyones attention a website called RetroRoadmap.com that I think most of those who visit here would enjoy exploring. It lists wonderful nostalgic places including historic theatres.
I was recently visited by Beth Lennon who hosts the site, and she did a fabulous write up and picture presentation about my theatre.
While the many photos posted here over the years by others have done a great job of showing the theatre as it is, nothing truly exhibits the splendor of the marquee until you see it lit up with it’s flashers and chashers operating, showing off it’s true theatrical character. A video is posted along with the article about the theatre on Retro Roadmap. If you wish to see it I would suggest that you go there, and while there check out all the other wonderful places as well.
I will attempt to post a link here, but with my limited computer skills do not know if I will be successful. If I don’t succeed, maybe someone else can.
The Temple was a 2nd floor theatre. The ground floor lobby area was converted to retail space many years ago. The 2nd floor has remained unused ever since. I have to wonder if the theatre is still up there?
After leaving Fox Theatres, Paul Angstadt who had been general manager of all of the Fox theatres,formed a partnership with myself, and we operated 13 theatres in eastern Pennsylvania under the name Angstadt and Wolfe Theatres, Inc.
Neither Paul nor myself ever operated the Strand Theatre in Hamburg. One of the theatres that we did operate, which Paul currently owns and operates is the Strand Twin Theatre in Kutztown.
When I first saw that picture, I thought that it was the Paradise in the Bronx, but something just didn’t seem right. I think I’ve figured it out. The picture is reversed. Someone printed the negative backwards. What you see appears to be the left side when it is actually the right side printed backwards. Most atmospheric theatres were designed differently on each side of the proscenium where the organ chambers would normally be.
I’m in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton (Lehigh Valley) Pennsylvania metro area of 700,000 people.
You can visit us at: www.roxytheaternorthampton.com
This was a great summer for our theatre. The best ever! Actually a great year. Not only is our box office revenue up both this summer and for the entire year, but ticket sales (butts in the seats) are up by 5% as well. Of course with admissions up, concession sales are up as well, and we have had NO increase in prices this year for tickets or refreshments.
Hmmm… I wonder if the fact that we are a restored 1933 art deco single screen theatre that still uses curtains, uniformed staff, no screen ads, and only charges $3.00 for tickets and no more then $3.00 for even our large concession items has anything to do with it?
They could try to keep everyone happy. Since it’s a twin, maybe they should rename it the PRESIDENT, then call the left auditorium the OBAMA and the right one the BUSH.
The Reading Drive-In was located on the 5th Street Hi-way (old Rt. 222)several miles north of reading at Temple, Pa. It was just a couple blocks south of the intersection with Kutztown Road, and was located on the north side of the street. There is a shopping center on that site today. From the sixties on until it closed it was oprated by Fox Theatres out of Reading. That’s the Richard A. Fox Theatres… not the Fox Theatres begun by William Fox.
I worked as a relief manager for the Reading Drive-in, the Mt. Penn Drive-In and the Sinking Spring Drive-In as well as the Fox indoor in the Mulhlenburg Shopping center from spring 1967 thru the fall of 1968. I left Fox at that time and aquired my own theatres, one of which I still operate to this day.
I don’t remember when the Reading Drive-In closed as I left Reading before that occurred, but I would guess that it was either late 70s or early 80s.
Where is the entrance to this theatre? The 1986 photo posted above shows a normal theatre entrance, but current photos seem to suggest that the original entrance has been converted to other usage.
Does one have to walk down the alley to gain entrance to the auditorium portion of the building? What a shame that is, if in fact that is what you must do, to get into such a wonderful theatre. It would be kind of like entering a speakeasy.
Seeing a post for the Phippâ€™s Plaza theatre in Atlanta the other day brought back some fond memories from many years ago.
During the fall of 1969 I was completing training for the Pennsylvania National Guard at Ft. Gordon outside Augusta, GA. I was 21 years old at the time and was already half owner of two theatres in Pennsylvania. I would spend each weekend in Augusta during which time I would always see a movie or two at the downtown theatres, or just stop in and talk shop with the theatre managers.
I was already a movie palace junkie, having worked in several large ones back in Pennsylvania while a teenager. I promised myself that when my training was completed in January, that before returning north I would travel to Atlanta to visit the fabulous Fox Theatre. Each weekend I would buy the Sunday Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper to see what was playing at Atlanta theatres. On Pearl Harbor Day, Sunday December 7th, 1969 I noticed a large ad, 6 col. X 15 inches, advertising the opening of Atlantaâ€™s newest theatreâ€¦ the Phippâ€™s Plaza.
Never one to have much interest in the design or beauty, or lack of, of post TV era theatres, I would normally have not given that ad any further attention. However, it did catch my eye, and suggest that this might indeed be something a bit different â€¦ something special. Maybe even a new trend in movie theatre design. The ad read as follows: â€œBy the year 2000 Atlanta could be the leading city in the world. Atlantaâ€™s Phippâ€™s Plaza Theatre with Ultra-Vision is a sneak preview.â€ It continued with: â€œIn the ordinary sequence of events Phippâ€™s Plaza Theatre should appear about three decades from now. Happily itâ€™s coming to Atlantaâ€™s â€œFifth Avenue Southâ€ in the next few weeks.
The Ultra-Vision System introduces the ultimate in sight and sound. Every seat is picture perfect. Images so real you can almost talk to them. Your complete viewing and listening pleasure has been assured by Ultra-Vision.
The auditorium has no corners, no corner seats, no stairways. Even the front row is restful to the eyes. Continental rocking chair seating, almost sinfully luxurious, affords easy come and go access without disturbing those seated. Thereâ€™s free covered parking and outside parking too.
The foyer? More like an art gallery than a theater lobby.
Phippâ€™s Plaza Theatre: a show in itself, a showcase of tomorrow. Where you may expect the finest motion pictures in the industry.â€
At the very bottom of the ad it advertised the opening attraction in rather smallish type, just one line about an eighth inch high: Natalie Wood/Robert Culp, Elliott Gould/Dyan Cannon in BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICEâ€. Below that in much larger letters in stated OPENING FRIDAY DECEMBER 19th, 1969.
After seeing that ad, I decided that while in Atlanta I would check out that theatre as well.
It was mid January when I was released from active duty, and I immediately traveled to Atlanta. I caught a matinee showing of â€œThe Reiversâ€ starring Steve McQueen at the fabulous Fox. I stayed for two showings actually, one to watch the movie, and one to move about and check out the entire theatre. That in itself is worth a trip to Atlanta. That evening I ventured to the new Phippâ€™s Plaza Mall to discover just what the new theatre there had to offer. There, I introduced myself as a fellow theatre owner, and expressed my interest in seeing what this new â€œahead of its timeâ€ theatre was all about. The manager gave me a complete tour, including the booth where he showed me the Ultra-Vision setup and explained how it worked. I must admit that I was impressed. If I had to run a â€œmodernâ€ theatre, I would want it to be like that one. I did not watch the movie, as I had already seen it elsewhere.
I find it interesting to note that while they suggested in their advertising that the theatre was about three decades ahead of its time, three decades later in 1999 it was completely outdated, not by its design, comfort, or technology, but by the changes within the industry that made it impossible to profitably operate a large single screen theatre. It had by that time become, in its original concept, just as outdated as the huge Fox downtown.
I still have the newspaper tear sheet with the advance opening ad that I quoted from. Itâ€™s a shame that I donâ€™t know how to link or post it here.
Allow me to ask you folks for your opinion on a pop corn based policy. Many chain owned first run theatres offer free refills on both pop corn and drinks. Often on the large size only as an incentive for the consumer to buy the more expensive size. I do not offer free refills for two reasons. First, since my prices are only 1/3 of what they charge, I can’t justify giving away that much pop corn or drink, and 2nd, on weekdays I only run one show per evening and therefore close the refreshment stand 15 minutes after the show begins. Therefore, once the patron has finished their original items and went out for a refill they would find the stand closed and not be able to get a refill anyway, and thus feel ripped off.
People have often ask me why I close the stand so quickly. It has been my experience over the past 40 years of operating this theatre that once the feature starts very few people ever come out to buy anything. Even on the weekends when there are continuous showings and the stand stays open throughout them, I have often taken register readings to see what the sales results are between shows and have found there seldom are enough to even pay the labor cost of the two people operating the stand.
My 2nd request for your comments is in regards to people asking for a FREE refill when they or their kids drop their pop corn or drinks on the floor in the auditorium. If we have in some way caused it to happen, yes I will give them a refill, but if they dropped it on their own due to no fault of ours, no, I do not give a refill. However, in the case of pop corn, if the patron comes out and says: We spilled our pop corn, do you have something that we can clean it up with? Then I give them a dust pan and brush and tell them when they bring it back we will refill there pop corn as a courtesy for cleaning up the mess.
I’m curious to get your opinions on these matters.
You can find us at www.roxytheaternorthampton.com
As a theatre owner I can see both sides of the story here. I have a single screen small town 2nd run theatre. However, I’m also the highest grossing 2nd run theatre in the state, out grossing many 1st run theatres, and I do it on a $3.00 ticket price. Even with that being the case, I can’t come close to breaking even on ticket sales alone. Concession sales have to pay the remainder of the overhead costs, and then hopefully create enough profit to maintain this historic theatre in a safe, comfortable and attractive condition.
My highest price concession item is a large tub of popcorn which sells for $3.00. The local Carmike sells their small popcorn for $5.75.
I appreciate what Ron Newman said about independents, although I don’t believe many independents (at least in my area) sell their concessions for anything near what the big chains do.
I do not allow patrons to bring food or drink into the theatre from outside, although people do sneak some in. If caught we take it from them. If they refuse to give it up, I throw them out (that seldom happens). That may seem harsh, but they were warned as there is a sizable sign on the front door. It has been my experience that few people that sneak stuff in ever use the trash cans, but rather leave everything on the floor for us to clean up, even though they haven’t contributed anything toward the cost of such.
I realize that the movie going public does not understand the complexities of the movie theatre business, and I agree that the prices charged at chain theatres are simply redicules, but when it’s fairly easy to see how inexpensive we are when compared to the chains, I would think that we should be appreciated for what we do to make movie going affordable for all of our patrons.
We do not run ANY screen advertising, nor do we have any video games in the lobby, so we have no income stream from anything other than ticket sales and concessions.
Our average concession per capita sale is $2.00 added to a $3.00 ticket, means you’ve just spent $5.00 a person to enjoy a movie in a beautiful well maintained art deco theatre with a uniformed staff, an auditorium with beautiful drapes and house curtain, with state of the art Dolby and DTS stereo sound, and a large free parking lot directly behind the theatre as well.
The thought of people suggesting that you sneak food and beverages into our theatre and undermine the financial well being of this showplace is very disturbing to me. Other then Ron, that is exacting what the others here are suggesting.
Shame on you.
I’m not aware that Automaticket made a ticket machine that stamped the name of anything on it. They use preprinted machine tickets with the theatre name, location and price already printed on them by the ticket company.
It looked pretty nice back in 1984. But today, lets just say it desperately needs an exterior paint job.
We would love to see them jimbarry.