Beach Shopping Center,
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The Beach Theatre located in the Beach Shopping Center between U.S. 6 and 202 in Peekskill opened on July 13, 1967. It was part of the Ron Lesser Enterprises theater chain in this area which included the Triangle Theatre in Yorktown Heights, Mt. Kisco Theatre in Mt. Kisco, Orangeburg Theatre in Orangeburg Shopping Center, Spring Valley Theatre and Studio One Theatre in Lynhurst, Long Island.
The theater was a large and comfortable house with 600 seats a large 40 foot screen with curtains and designed by the architectural firm of Meyer and Kasindorf of Great Neck, Long Island.
All of the Lesser cinemas were first run ‘family theaters’ and showed many of the top pictures of the era like the Bond thrillers, “The Great Race”, “Around the World in 80 Days” and other epics. What made the Beach unique among Lesser’s houses was that it was the only cinema set up for 70mm in Westchester to my knowledge. They played “2001”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” there in the large format when I attended. Both picture and sound were excellent for a suburban theatre.
Aside from the consession stand, free coffee was served to adults at some shows.
Like many suburban theaters in the era, they had special Children’s Matinees on the weekends prior to the first run feature. K. Gordon Murray imports were screened along with MGM Matinee classics like “The Wizard of Oz”.
A second theater was built next to Cinema I in the parking lot. It was about the same size as the original. It was re-named Beach Cinema I and II. The second theater was only set up for 35mm projection.
Unfortunately, the late sixties was not an ideal time to open a ‘family theater’. In 1968, the production code was dumped in favor of complete screen freedom accompanied by the ratings system. Incrementally, more and more R and X rated pictures glutted the marketplace. Although Beach continued to book mainstream G and M/GP/PG features, this became increasingly difficult when there were more R rated movies produced than general attendence circa 1972.
The Beach did book an soft core X rated title, “I A Woman” as a test but people from the community complained so they avoided that type of product again.
The theater suffered bad times in the late Seventies as audience demographics changed from general attendence to ‘targeted youth’ viewers.
The two large screens were eventually twinned into four tiny ones. The conversion was so shoddy, the aisle seats in cinemas 1 and 4 were facing the wall rather than the screen. The same projection booth was used for 1 and 4 too which resulted in keystone focus problems.
The theater folded in the Eighties and was gutted for office space.
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