Galleria Cinema IV

5085 Westheimer Road,
Houston, TX 77056

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The Galleria was actually two separate twin cinemas, each with its own box office and lobby, situated at different sites within this sprawling shopping complex. The Galleria cinemas were among the best of the General Cinema’s Houston properties (the original Meyerland 1 & 2 took top honors).

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

spikewriter
spikewriter on July 10, 2005 at 10:41 am

I’m not certain when the first two screens were built — I believe it was in the early ‘70s along with the rest of the mall. In the spring of 1977, it was the theater at which Star Wars was shown, playing there for well over a year (I saw it first at the second feature of the second day, as well as the one-year anniversary in May of 1978). The mall featured a skating rink on the lowest level of the mall, with the theater located at one end. During a very hot summer, it was actually rather pleasant to wait in line with the cold wafting off the ice. There was no “food court” as such in the mall, but several of the restaurants actually started take-out menus designed for eating while seated on the floor of the mall as the line snaked around the ice rink and back again.

In late 1977/early 1978, the mall expanded with a new wing that connected to a new hotel (there was already one at the other end of the mall), shopping and office space. They were open by May of 1978 because my senior prom was held in the new hotel (ironically, my junior high prom was held in the other hotel in the complex) and we wandered around the new section, which wasn’t particularly populated at that point. The cinemas themselves opened that summer, I believe, with Star Wars moving over to the two new screens.

I didn’t see that many movies in the III & IV because I moved from Houston within two years, but they were very nice, with a fairly small lobby but nice auditorium. As an added bonus, the theatres were tucked into a corner of the mall that just happened to be directly by an entrance to one of the parking gararges. There was also a very expensive chocolate store directly across from the box office.

icebrg
icebrg on July 26, 2005 at 7:21 pm

These theaters have been closed and have long since been gutted for other uses and to make way for additions to the mall.

rogerscorpion
rogerscorpion on August 2, 2006 at 1:29 am

I & II opened in 1970. Five Easy Pieces, with Jack Nicholson, sizzling in his first starring role, after his first oscar nomination, for Easy Rider—was one of the 2 films showing.
I saw some kind of invitational sneak of Star Wars there—one day before it opened.
III & IV had a Mickey D’s across from it, too, & it also was near an exit to the parking garage.
GC put this great old manager, Les Coulter, in charge of all 4 audsitoriums, which, as you said were on diff floors of diff segments of the Galleria. ( continued )

rogerscorpion
rogerscorpion on August 2, 2006 at 1:33 am

Poor Les, who wasn’t a young man, did a LOT of walking. Because he WAS so good—he couldn’t keep a decent assistant manager, either. He’d train them so well, that the company would transfer them out, to other assignments—as soon as he got them thru training.
I’ve lost track of him. Last time I saw him—he was managing a $ cinema—years ago.

williamburge
williamburge on August 17, 2006 at 6:25 am

general cinema galleria twin theater opened november 17,1970. the two films that open were five easy pieces with jack nicholson and karen black the other film was scrooge starring albert finney. I remember seeing a sci fi movie universal pictures andromada strain starring artur hill,james olsen ,kate reid ,david wayne. the date was febuary 8,1971. in the lobby for a movie promotion at the concession counter the theater was selling duplicate red keys used in the film. the red keys hung around your neck on a chain. I april 1973 I saw soylent green another sci fi film starring charlton heston. other films I saw there were jaws 1975, star wars 1977.out of africa 1985.

rogerscorpion
rogerscorpion on August 23, 2006 at 11:50 am

I saw Soylent Green (Edward G. Robinson’s last film) & Jaws there, too.

Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches
Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches on January 27, 2007 at 7:00 pm

I saw Star Wars there on its opening weekend in May 1977.

Rebstock
Rebstock on January 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Hi, My name is Philip Rebstock .When Star Wars came out in 1977 I was the Manager of both the Cinema in the main complex but also the Galleria II cinema. WJ Wilson was the division manager and had his offices in the galleria when I was hired in 1973. I worked as a trainee at Gulfgate then was transfered to Meyerland and on to the Galleria in April of 1973. I became the Assistant Manager under John Foster who was then the manager. Fred Riley was the Manager at Meyerland, and Clay Flueker was the manager of Northline. John Foster was a retired TWA pilot who’s family had owned a small chain of theaters in west Texas. He managed for them when he was in his early twenties. He returned to the theater business as a retirement job because he said he had always enjoyed being around theaters as a kid. He did it for fun. He definitely did not need the money. I found out as time went by, that it gets into your blood. I was only 24 years old at that time. John was extremely good teacher. I was on the shy side and he told me I had to grow thicker skin. This was of particular importance in learning to work the lines from the ticket booth as they would go down the skating rink and block other stores. I learned how to control crowds and people. With Mr. Wilson, district manager, having offices there , most assistants and trainee’s didn’t want to work there. He was a gruff, but fair man. I liked him. He was straightforward and I wasn’t afraid to make it or break it , under his watchful eye. I was there 6 months and a Manager of Quail Creek Cinema in Shreveport, La was leaving. Wilson came to me and asked I could go there and manage the theater until he could get a manager there. After leaving me there for month he said he very pleased with my work and I could stay on as manager if I felt up to it. I did. I stayed there and became City manager for Shreveports 2 theaters. I was the youngest manager in the South texas/Louisianna Division but was doing extremely well. At the end of 1976 he offered me a promotion to become the manager of the Galleria(our flagship theater in his division). I agreed. As a favor he asked me stop at Galvez Triple in Galveston to straighten out the operation(lots of theft) before coming to Houston. After a couple of months I got it back on track. In early 1977 before Star Wars I moved in to Galleria as manager. I had 3 Asst. Manager Dwayne Nicklen and Kurt Von Riechthoven (yes he claimed to be related to the Red Baroon) I had a chief of staff and asst. that I don’t recall and about 100 (believe it)employees in both units. As Star Wars time drew near I found we were going to have the exclusive grand opening for not only Texas but several surrounding states. Not even our GCC theater in Dallas was getting it. Only one location in California on a day earlier would get the Official Priemer Grand Opening. Only 2 other location in the USA would open on the same day as us. One was in New York and I don’t recall the other. Needless to say there was a lot of publicity. I believe(not sure) it was Ch 13 that contacted me about an interview. I declined-too busy and a question of GCC policy. However, I said they could come to the theater and speak to one of my not as busy assistants about things releated to what was happening with the film. They did come back after the film started and he did a pretty good job, as I latter noticed when I had time to watch TV. I was very busy with the lines that formed many hours in advanced wrapping itself around and down the skating rink. Counting the cash money(only form of payment ) was a task that was almost impossible. We were selling out every performance and would have500-1000 people left who wait for the next performance. This went on for weeks. Everyday my asst. & I were counting up to $25,000 in small bills(lots of ones). Turning over a new crowd every two hours was not a small feat. Somewhere at the beginning of the Star Wars run, we got in a second copy of Star Wars to run in Galleria II. I had Dwayne Nicklen, takeover in running the second unit. To Digress:The reason for the second print was GCC did not use the platter system that AMC was to develope later, they still used the 2 projectors on one screen(splicing the small reels onto 2 larger reels of about 1 hour each) and using a changeover que. Any way, things were starting to get stretched rather thin with staff. Unfortunately an unsavory character had been watching how we handled the money. All the money came to me upstairs beside the concession stand. You needed to use a key to enter and had to identify yourself at the door to my office. During one of very busy times, at the end of the day on Sunday, this character catches the downstairs door after the cashier enters, and follows her upstairs. There was a hall area going to the projectionist booth that he slips behind and hides until the cashier indentifies herself and starts to come in the room. He quickly comes in behind her with a gun. He had no mask and held the gun in a palming manner. Kurt, my assistant and Louanna McWhorter, the cashier were in the office with me. He points the gun at Kurt and tells him to “face the wall”. He tells Louanne to “sit still in the chair”. He has gloves on and reaches inside his Jacket and pulls out a white cloth bag and tells me to open and empty the safe. He points the gun at my head. I open the safe and start filling the bag. I start to put rolled quarters in and he stops me and tells me"no coin". He is very calm and collected. Not the least bit in a hurry. After he collects his money he pulls out a pair of wire cutters and cuts the office phone line. He then tells us “don’t leave this office for 10 minutes or you might get hurt” He exits and I wait maybe a minute then run down the hall to the 2nd office and call the police. He was already long gone. He had exited into the theater and went out the doors at the rear of the screen. Later the detectives told me he was probably a pro and likely an ex-cop. They said we were very lucky. He was never caught. It was about $14,000 in cash. Yes I got into trouble for it. Wilson went to bat for me. Stan Worthman advertising director at GCC Boston went to bat. My wife put her foot down and wanted me to quit.
Later , I believe a couple of weeks, the Windsor, that was south of the Galleria( a beautiful old theater with over a thousand seats) was robbed. They think by the same person. The manager had a gun in his safe and tried to shoot it out. He died. After a short while my wife convinces me to take a break from the theater. I am only 28 years old with 2 children. I agree but return to GCC for a couple more years at Lakeside in New orleans, Alexandria Cinema-Alexandria, La. I hope you enjoyed this. I have lots of fond memories of those General Cinema Years!

Greg_Smith
Greg_Smith on January 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Thanks Rebstock for that behind the scenes look at the movie business during the 1970’s. I do recall that Star Wars opened up at different months during the summer of 77 depending on your location. Also, the lines that would wrap around the block to buy tickets in those pre-internet days. The movie business has changed quite a bit since those times.

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