Cinema East

4177 East Broad Street,
Whitehall, OH 43213

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Showing 1 - 25 of 42 comments

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 December 10, 2010 at 6:55 pm

TFK, you should have seen the picture those Norelco’s put out when they ran OKLAHOMA at 30fps in the early ‘80’s.

TFK on December 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Charlie Sugarman would be smiling about all the attention his old theatre is getting.

The projectors were incredible to operate and outclassed anything coming out in the mid 80’s/early 90’s. I suspect they might still be running. I can’t remember if Chakeres moved them to another newer theatre, or sold them. This may be around the time Chakeres decided to sell the chain.

While the sound suffered due to the surround speakers, the screen and theatre size overcame any shortcomings, and made any movie watched at Cinema East an experience.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 27, 2010 at 11:02 am

Glad all this got straighten out.

Mark_L on June 27, 2010 at 9:38 am

In its April 1, 1990 edition, Boxoffice announced the 1/7/1990 closing of the theatre by Chakeres due to loss of lease. This article incorrectly states that the theatre had 1,600 seats. Former Cinema East manager, John Sittig, states in his post of 9/1/2008 the correct seat count of 998.

Mark_L on September 2, 2008 at 5:33 pm

J. Sittig,

Was SAND PEBBLES shown in 70mm out there? I wasn’t sure, and I haven’t added it to my films I’ve seen in 70mm list.

That was a very nice theatre. As time wore on, it became a bit rundown. I don’t think they ever replaced those small surround speakers, and toward the end, they really sounded bad. But those Norelco’s were things of beauty!

JSittig1 on September 1, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I was manager of Cinema East in the 1970’s. The theatre was owned by Charles Sugarman, a real showman. Charlies father ran theatres in Columbus in the 40’s and 50’s including The Champion on Livingston.
Theatre sat 998 including 184 in the balcony. We played several roadshows besides “Flying Machines” including “Sand Pebbles” and “Hello Dolly” I don’t recall screen measurements but it was large, wall to wall. Played 70mm 6 track on Norelco AAII ptojectors. Theatre had trouble getting prime bookings in late 70’s and 80’s as multiplexes began springing up. Sold to Charkares Threatres from Springfield. Charlie died in 1986.

RichM on June 6, 2008 at 9:01 am

I remember seeing JAWS, STAR WARS, and WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP at Cinema East. Man those were the days. Small snack bar, small afternoon crowds, big screen. Had forgotten about the often roped off balcony. Dont believe I ever made it up there. Moved out to southwest 6 years ago. Columbus area sure had a LOT of different theatres back in the day.
Thanks for the memories.

Coate on March 6, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Jamie in Las Vegas…

Nice reminiscence on “Indiana Jones” and working at CINEMA EAST!

One correction: “Star Wars” (the 1977 original) did not play at CINEMA EAST for over one year. It ran there for 26 weeks, exactly one half year. (It was at RAINTREE where it played for over a year; 53 weeks to be exact.)

jlgreenlee on March 6, 2008 at 11:11 am

You’re right, sorry about that. I was on my third try posting that, and obviously goofed. Here it is:

View link

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 16, 2008 at 5:14 am

I don’t see any article at that link.

jlgreenlee on February 15, 2008 at 11:09 pm

I tried to post twice before, so apologies if I appear more than once.

I worked at Cinema East for the entire seven-month run of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was quite an experience, and will always hold a special place in my memories.

I know this page is old, but I just found it today, and wrote a long post on my blog about Cinema East (with a link back here). If anyone is interested, here is the link:

Hibi on September 13, 2005 at 5:53 am

Can anyone post a listing for the Continent? I dont have any information on it.

Mark_L on August 22, 2005 at 3:45 pm

Here is some additional data on Cinema East.

The theatre opened on September 1, 1965. A radio broadcast was made of the premiere (I remember listening to that on WBNS radio!). The first picture was LORD JIM. On 10/13/65, the theatre opened THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES.

The theatre was built and owned by Charles Sugarman from its opening to approximately November 1, 1980, when it was sold to Chakeres Theatres.

The final screenings were on January 8, 1990 with the film HARLEM NIGHTS.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 18, 2005 at 2:47 pm

I wrote to ‘Lizard McGee’, whose band Earwig has a song called ‘Cinema East’, and told him about this page. He sent me this reply:

“I’m glad that you have fond memories of Cinema East. I went to High School in Whitehall and went to that cinema a bunch as well. I also ended up working there and meeting my wife there. We both worked there and would sometimes stay late and run the movies just for ourselves. When it closed down, we still had a set of keys to the place. I would go and hang out there in the balcony with friends and play hide & seek in the dark.

“I play in a band called Earwig ( and I wrote a song called ‘Cinema East’ that happens to be one of our more popular songs that people have heard of. If you follow the links on our website you should be able to download an MP3 version of the song.

‘You can certainly post our story on the Cinema East page. I will be checking back often to read the updates. We loved Cinema East and were heartbroken when they tore the place down.

“You should find a link to the song Cinema East on this page
View link

Lizard McGee
Earwig & LFM Records

Mark_L on August 17, 2005 at 2:06 pm

Just remembered the managers name in the early ‘80’s…Jeff Montgomery. Nice guy. He worked for the Drexel for awhile, and then I lost track of him.

One of his great moments was running films for the cast of BRUBAKER, which was filmed east of Columbus. Much of the cast stayed in hotels around the theatre. He told me he ran a 70mm print of ALIEN for the cast and crew because Yaphet Kotto was in the cast of both films.

Mark_L on August 17, 2005 at 2:03 pm

OK…the e-mail link works now.

One of the reasons to look at microfilm is that much of the information one might be looking for is in ad copy, not articles.

Some of the highlights in Cinema East history include:

a sneak preview showing the THE STUNT MAN with Richard Rush, Steve Railsback and Barbara Hershey in attendance. (This was a couple of years before the film was released.)

ALIEN in 70mm…first 70mm film in years. Mr. Sugarman was very proud to be selected for that one.

THE CAR in magnetic stereo (just joking about that one…a bad but fun film..bad hiss in the surround system on that one)

Dolby Stereo engagement of STAR WARS…second Dolby install in the city. Process wasn’t very stable at that point…took me five times to finally hear it correctly.

ONE FROM THE HEART in 70mm. One of the few 70mm engagements of that film. Ran for about 1 week. Film was framed at 1.33 (or 37, whatever), but the sound was exquisite. Film ran there because a local theatre had one of the best runs in the country of that film.

OKLAHOMA in 70mm, 30fps. They even got the curtains working for that one. A wonderful experience. 30fps DOES make a difference.

Some not so nice moments include a very weak surround system (this was before surrounds became standard, remember…even in 70mm films the surrounds were rarely used) and the mis-splicing on a sneak preview on the last INDIANA JONES film with 2 reels spliced in tail first…900 VERY angry people on that one.

Off topic, there are a number of large screens in Columbus, including the UltraScreen at Marcus, the large rooms at AMC Lennox and Easton and the large rooms at ARENA GRAND. I don’t know the largest, possibly the Ultrascreen. The new RAVE theatre has some very large screens, also, but I haven’t seen an entire film there.

I’m taking a guess, here, but I think the move to Chakeres came around the release of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.