Cinema East

4177 East Broad Street,
Whitehall, OH 43213

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A large single screen theatre in the Columbus suburb of Whitehall, just east of the Town & Country Shopping Center.

It opened in 1965 with “Lord Jim” and ran its last movie, “Harlem Nights”, on Sunday, January 7, 1990. In its heydey, it was a favorite venue for 70mm screenings of big-event movies such as “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and “Alien”.

A Social Security district office is now located at this address.

Contributed by Ron Newman

Recent comments (view all 44 comments)

DennisBee on August 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I interviewed Charlie Sugarman and also Jerry Knight, another great Columbus showman who managed the Drexel before it was sold to Jeff Frank (whom I knew in his two earlier jobs, at the Columbus Museum of Art and at the Ohio Theater) for a feature in COLUMBUS MONTHLY (Mar. 1980). This was in the late ‘70s just before I left town for the next five years and Charlie sold the CINEMA EAST. By this time, he simply could not outbid the Loew’s, General Cinema, and AMC chains for films for this cinema and the twinplex he opened on Morse Road in 1974. It was sad.

The first movie I saw at CINEMA EAST was THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING in July 1966, when I was 12. I recall seeing THE ODD COUPLE, HELLO DOLLY (in 70mm—Eye-popping!), THE CANDIDATE, and Ross Hunter’s LOST HORIZON (Yes, Charlie played turkeys like everybody else.) In October 1979, Richard Rush previewed THE STUNT MAN, at a time when he and his producer, Melvin Simon, were taking it around the country, trying a populist approach to finding a distributor (Now Toronto would probably do the trick for him). The highlight of the late-‘80s period for me at CINEMA EAST was in 1989 when it presented the reconstruction of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA—one of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen. in a movie theater!

I live out of state now, but I visit my mother in Reynoldsburg and drive by the lot that used to be CINEMA EAST. What a shame, but what wonderful memories!

Mark_L on August 29, 2011 at 4:21 am

DennisBee, our paths have crossed, I see. I also was at the STUNT MAN screening. They actually opened the balcony that night, so I got to sit up there for the screening of 10 that followed STUNT MAN. Great view from there. I remember looking up at the booth and seeing operators paying VERY close attention to the screen. Best thing I saw there was the 30fps screening of OKLAHOMA earlier in the 80’s.

DennisBee on September 3, 2011 at 8:13 am

Cool, Mark L. I stayed for 10 also—never passed up the chance for a double feature. I forgot—I also had my first screening of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY at Cinema East, in a reissue in the fall of 1971. Not the severely curved Cinerama screen experience I would have had at the film’s first-run at the Grand downtown in 1968, but close. My virgin 2001 voyage was followed a few weeks later by another MGM re-release (part of the same package): DOCTOR ZHIVAGO—also my first time. I saw that again around 1990 at the Ohio Theater Summer Movies and it didn’t look as clear and vivid.

Nicholas Herum
Nicholas Herum on January 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I believe I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 70MM here. My dad grew up in Columbus and knew the theater well so when we moved to Columbus in 1989 that’s where he took me to see my first movie as a Columbus resident. I remember driving by the theater shortly after it closed and not understanding why it closed because I had a blast.

Mark_L on March 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Leon Seligson of Columbus, OH was the architect. Land was owned by Leon Schottenstein. Proposed building cost was $500,000.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm

The Boxoffice article Tinseltoes linked to confirms Leon Seligson as architect of the Cinema East, as does his entry in the 1970 edition of the AIA’s American Architects Directory. Seligson also designed the Kon-Tiki Theatre in Trotwood, Ohio.

bbfarmer on February 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm

A wonderful theater; I saw many films there. Some were giant Hollywood blockbusters, while some were just strange things to be playing on such a majestic screen, like the Columbus premiere of Fred Williamson’s cheesy “The Messenger”, with Williamson in attendance, and “Troma’s War”. Have fond memories of seeing “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life” there, too.

Last time I was at this theater was for “Beverly Hills Cop 2”, which my wife and I were finding unbearable. Luckily for us (not for the theater) lightning struck and the speakers exploded with the loudest sound I’ve ever heard, then silence. Everyone got a comp ticket to come back but as I recall, the place closed before we ever happened to go back.

Mark_L on August 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

Here’s a question for John Sittig if he ever happens this way. Charles Sugarman had Todd-AO projectors installed in the Main theatre in the early ‘60’s. I’m wondering if those projectors were moved to Cinema East when that opened? I don’t believe the Main ran any 70mm after 1962.

buckohio1165 on May 15, 2015 at 6:54 am

Hello everyone. CINEMA EAST was the best theater in town when I was a kid. One HUGE screen. Grew up in Reyoldsburg and Pataskala. I can clearly recall 10 year old me seeing JAWS (1975) and being scared to death, but my 6 and 5 year old brothers loving the film. Saw SUPERMAN (1978) and ALIEN (1979) there. My friends and I saw THE WIZ (1978) and GREASE (1978) at CE multiple times. One thing my friends and I remember well was this Lynyrd Skynyrd short film which played before some of the films.

Coate on May 15, 2015 at 11:35 am


“Superman” didn’t play at Cinema East (not first-run, anyway). There’s a listing of the first-run theaters where it played in this retrospective article I put together a couple of years ago. Scroll down to the Ohio section. I hope the article brings back wonderful memories of seeing “Superman” when it was new.

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