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I’ve done a little research from the Capital Journal archives to come up with a history of this theater which I remember from my youth:
General Cinema Corp opened the Topeka Boulevard Cinemas I-II on Wednesday October 16, 1974. The opening movies both featured Omar Sharif: “The Tamarind Seed,” and “Doctor Zhivago.”
The west auditorium was closed briefly in spring 1981 and was split. The Topeka Boulevard Cinemas I-II-III reopened Friday June 19, 1981, showing “Superman II,” “Bustin' Loose,” and holdover “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia.”
Crown Cinema Corp took over operation of the theater from GCC on Friday April 3, 1987. Advertising renamed Boulevard 3.
After opening their new West Ridge 8 in July 1993, Crown Cinema turned the Boulevard 3 into a $1.25 second-run theater on Friday September 10, 1993. This competed with Crown’s Gage 4, which had become a discount house in 1988.
A Capital Journal article on Wednesday Sept. 21, 1994 said the Boulevard 3 would close when the lease was up. Crown Cinema owner Richard Durwood stated that Topeka was unable to support two discount theaters.
Crown Cinema closed the theater on Thursday October 6, 1994. The final films were “Speed,” “Blankman,” and “The Flintstones.”
As of 2015, the building is still in use as a country and western themed nightclub.
The timeline of the Fox Theater through Capital Journal archival research: The theater opened Wednesday June 14, 1967 with “8 on the Lam” starring Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller. National General was the operator for the first five years.
Mann Theaters took over operation of the theater from National General on Sunday July 1, 1973.
Mann twins the original theater and reopens on December 22, 1977.
Dickinson Theaters took over operation of the theater from Mann on Friday February 1, 1980.
Dickinson adds two more screens on the east end of the original building, opening on August 17, 1984.
Hollywood Theaters (Wallace) took over operation of the theater from Dickinson on Friday October 3, 1997.
Wallace turns the Fox into a $2.00 second-run theater on Friday October 14, 1999.
Wallace closes the Fox Theater on Tuesday March 16, 2004 after almost 37 years of operation.
The theater was sold in a bankruptcy auction in 2015 for just over $27,000. Future plans for the building have not been finalized.
The Topeka Capital Journal has a great slideshow of the Fox Theater over the years, including pictures of the original construction and grand opening festivities:
may have to cut and paste to view link
Crown Cinema opened the West Ridge Mall 6 on Wednesday March 2, 1988, the same day that the mall had its grand opening.
The Wednesday opening was a promotional effort with Topeka TV station KTKA ABC channel 49, and featured six older moves at a price of 49 cents each. The movies were “Like Father, Like Son,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Throw Mama from the Train,” “Hello Again,” “Baby Boom,” and “Planes Trains and Automobiles.”
First-run features began on Friday March 4, 1988, but the only movie released that day was “Switching Channels,” which the theater opened, along with older titles “Satisfaction,” “Broadcast News,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Barfly,” and “Ironweed.” The older titles were quickly replaced over the next few weeks as new films were released.
Hollywood Theaters took over operation of the theater from Crown Cinema on Friday December 20, 1996.
An article by Michael Hooper in the Topeka Capital Journal newspaper on April 20, 2005, said the West Ridge 6 would close at the end of business the next day, Thursday April 21, 2005. “We just decided it was time to move on,” said Erica Reese, spokeswoman for Wallace Theaters of Portland, OR.
“It’s really sad,” said Martha Schultz, manager of the Baskin Robbins located in the theater lobby. “We’ve been here since the mall opened.” Schultz plans to have a pizza party Thursday night for the staff. She said 11 people would lose their jobs when the ice cream shop closes. Reese said she expected Wallace Theaters to retain the West Ridge 6 employees.
The article noted that “Earlier this month, Wallace Theaters opened a 14-screen megaplex theater at the Shops at River Hill, 1.6 miles north of the West Ridge Mall.”
There was an article by Michael Hooper in the Topeka Capital Journal newspaper on Wednesday April 20, 2005, that said the West Ridge 6 would close on Thursday April 21, 2005.
It said that Coming Attractions Theatres Inc of Ashland, OR was interested in leasing the 6-plex space for a discount theater, but the mall was tied up in litigation with Hollywood Theaters (Wallace) over their premature exit.
At any rate, Wallace turned the above 8-plex into a discount theater first, which obviously dissuaded Coming Attractions from opening a discount theater of their own in the vacated space inside the mall.
The West Ridge 8 outside the mall opened on Friday July 9, 1993. The opening films were “Rookie of the Year,” “Weekend at Bernies 2,” “Strictly Ballroom,” “Much Ado about Nothing,”
“Sleepless in Seattle” on 2 screens, and “In the Line of Fire” on 2 screens.
Hollywood Theaters took over operation on Friday December 20, 1996. Regal Cinemas announced their purchase of Hollywood Theaters on February 19, 2013.
Regal had been running 35mm at this theater into 2015 and it was rumored the theater would close. However, as of Friday April 17, 2015, all auditoriums are listed as digital, and the ticket price increased to $3.00. It looks like Topeka will continue to have a second-run theater for the forseeable future.
The lease problems referred to above were actually with the 6-plex inside the mall. The mall threatened litigation, but the new 14-plex opened and the 6-plex closed shortly afterward, so I assume they worked out an amicable separation. This 8-plex is not actually owned by the mall. It is my understanding that Richard Durwood (who owned Crown Cinema), purchased the land and built the theater free of monthly rent. That would explain why it is evidently profitable as a discount house.
This theater has closed. The final day of showings was Thursday February 26, 2015.
Sharon Hoffman of the Kansas City Star reported on Feb 20 that the final week would feature screenings of Oscar nominees, as well as movies in the Folk Alliance Film Festival. The mall decided to stop leasing the space for the movie theater, only for the adjacent live theater run by Musical Theater Heritage.
Screenland will continue to operate the Crossroads and Armour theaters in the Kansas City area. Information can be found at their official website: www.screenland.com.
The Glenwood Arts 3-screen theater was closed at this location at the Metcalf South Mall in January 2015. All other tenants have vacated the mall, and the mall is scheduled for demolition later this year.
The Fine Arts Group has moved the theater to 3707 West 95th St, which was originally Commonwealth’s Ranch Mart 2, but has been known most recently as the Fine Arts Leawood 5. The Leawood Theater name has been changed to the Glenwood Arts to reflect the move. The Glenwood sign, which as noted above was originally from Dickinson’s Glenwood Theater, has made the move to the new location as well. The Glenwood Arts will continue to show a mix of first-run and arthouse films at its new home.
Brothers Brian Mossman and Ben Mossman will continue to operate the theater, as well as the Rio Theater in Overland Park. Additonal information can be found at the offical website: www.fineartsgroup.com.
This theater has now changed its name to the Glenwood Arts.
The original Glenwood Arts has closed down its tri-plex at the Metcalf South Mall in Overland Park, as the mall is set for demolition. The Fine Arts Group, which had been operating this theater as the Leawood, has changed the name to Glenwood Arts to reflect the move. Now with five screens, the ‘new’ Glenwood Arts will play a mix of first-run and arthouse films.
The Glenwood sign, which was salvaged from the original Glenwood Theater operated by Dickinson, has been moved from the mall to this new location.
Brothers Brian Mossman and Ben Mossman continue to own the theater, along with the Rio in Overland Park. Additional information can be found at the offical website www.fineartsgroup.com.
This theater has closed.
An article by Steve Rosen in the Kansas City Star on October 29, 2014 says that Brian Mossman, an owner of the company that operated the theater, said the lease was not renewed and the last day of business was Sunday October 26, 2014.
The Fine Arts Theatre Group, owned by Mossman and his brother Ben Mossman, operates two other movie houses in the Kansas City area—the Rio, and the Glenwood Arts. Information on those theaters can be found at their official website www.fineartsgroup.com.
My theory on the ‘east’ part of the name originally, is that Warren built this Palace east of Wichita and the Palace ‘West’ is west of Springfield. Then again, maybe it just designated the side of town the theater is on. It seems like the Palace in Wichita was a second-run theater pretty much from the beginning, like Springfield. But they both had THX, which was unheard of for a second run house. After the magnificent first-run theaters were built in Wichita, all the competition faded away and now the entire city is Warren.
I believe Mr. Warren’s father once owned theaters in Wichita, so obviously the town is special to him. I was surprised to see him expand to Moore, OK. The Oklahoma City area has a lot of theaters, so I don’t know how that town got so lucky. There are many towns in Kansas that could benefit from a Warren theater including Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan. We were all looking forward to the Warren theater for Kansas City, KS at the Speedway, but that ended up being built by Phoenix and is nothing too special.
Since Warren is already successful in Springfield, it would seem a reasonable location for a first-run Warren theater, but I don’t think expansion is one of his priorities. I worked for Dickinson years ago in Kansas, and remember when they opened their Town and Country 6 in Springfield. There were a lot of theaters in town back then, but it was their pride and joy at the time, and I believe it was their first six-plex. Nowadays, it seems like towns are either massively overscreened, with several new theaters and lots of competition, or woefully underscreened with one aging, neglected, outdated property. I know the expense of constructing a new movie theater in 2015 is incredibly high, but I think the bean counters at some chains are missing an opportunity. It is sad to see the number of towns in Kansas and Missouri (and other states) that have no theaters at all anymore, so I suppose a town can be grateful if they have one that is still open.
I managed this theater for 8 months from Nov 1987 to June ‘88, so it definitely opened before 1993. It was a very nice theater and was programmed primarily with “family friendly” films, while the R-rated product usually went to the Coeur d'Alene Cinemas. The Christmas I was there we played “Three Men and a Baby’ in the large auditorium, which sold out several times, even tho the population of Coeur d'Alene at the time was only around 25,000. It was originally a 3-screen independent, each with about 200 seats, built by the gentleman who owned the roller skating rink to the left and just behind the theater in the above picture. The two additional screens of 350 and 225 seats were added on the north end at some point to match Luxury Theaters Coeur d'Alene Cinemas a few miles away. When I managed it, Luxury Theaters had already bought the theater. They ran it for a few years, then it became part of the Act III chain when they bought Luxury. I was in Spokane at that point and had left by the time Regal took over Act III. It appears Regal operated it until they opened their new 14-plex, at which point the Showboat and Coeur d'Alene 5-plexes were both closed.
This theater was acquired by B&B Theaters in November 2014, as part of their purchase of the Dickinson chain.
The name is listed as Little Rock Chenal 9 Imax. Information can be found at their official website bbtheaters.com
This theater was acquired by B&B Theaters in November 2014, as part of their purchase of the Dickinson theater chain.
The name is now listed as KC Northland 14. Information can be found at their official website bbtheaters.com
The name is now listed as Overland Park 16. Information can be found at their official website bbtheaters.com
This theater was acquired by B&B theaters in November, 2014 as part of their purchase of the Dickinson theater chain.
The name is now listed as Shawnee 18. Information can be found at their official website bbtheaters.com
This theater was acquired by B&B theaters in November, 2014 as part of their purchase of the Dickinson chain.
The name is now listed as Lee’s Summit 16. Information is available on the official website bbtheaters.com
There was an excellent article by Steve Everly in the Kansas City Star on Saturday May 24, 2014 about the I-70 and Twin Drive-In theaters. The article starts on the front page and continues on A12. It talks about B&B Theaters taking over the operation of the drive-ins, and that the switch to digital projection has been completed. Movie screens were repainted, and restrooms and the concession stand were upgraded. The seasonal grand opening was May 23.
UltraStar Cinemas took over management from SR Entertainment sometime in 2011, of both the Mary Pickford 14 and the Desert IMAX across the parking lot. Information is at their official website: ultrastarmovies.com
It appears this theater is now closed, as Mr. Neff mentioned earlier. Does anyone know if it has been demolished or is being used for another purpose now?
It appears Regency is operating this as a second-run theater now.
This theater is actually located just north of the old White Lakes mall, across the street from the former Sears. It opened in 1967 as an 850-seat single screen operated by National General. It was referred to as the Fox White Lakes because of its proximity to the mall, and because the mall owned the property. Mann took over operation of the theater shortly afterward. General Cinema opened their Boulevard Cinema I and II in 1974 just up the street, so in the fall of 1977 Mann closed the Fox in order to split the theater into a twin of 425 and 396 seats. It reopened in December 1977 showing ‘The Gauntlet’ and ‘Telefon’. Dickinson Theatres took over operation of the theater from Mann in 1980. In 1983 Dickinson wanted the mall owner to add two screens so they could stay competitive with the General Cinema theater, which had just split their twin into a three-plex. The mall was unable to finance the expansion, so Dickinson bought the property from the mall and built the addition themselves. These two new screens on the east end opened on August 17, 1984 seating 296 each. The first two movies in the new auditoriums were ‘The Woman in Red’ and ‘Sheena,’ and were the first in Topeka to feature Dolby Stereo surround sound! Crown Cinema bought the Dickinson theaters in Topeka shortly after Crown opened their new theaters at West Ridge Mall in 1987. At some point after Hollywood theaters took over from Crown around 1999, they closed the Gage 4, which had become a discount theater, and turned the Fox into a second-run theater. I believe the Fox was closed in 2004. There is a listing on loopnet with another good view of the theater looking northeast. At this time, the listing says the building is off-market. The abandoned mall and boarded up theater are among several buildings contributing to the general blight in the south Topeka area today.