Britton Cinema 8

3938 S. Dale Mabry Highway,
Tampa, FL 33611

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Showing 1 - 25 of 38 comments

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on February 21, 2014 at 9:14 pm

The Britton was probably the finest single screen theatre in Tampa when first opened in 1956 before being destroyed by GCC in 1973. Capacity of the single screen Britton was 2200 seats and included a balcony. It was huge and very modern for its day. Some films I remember seeing on the Britton’s 60-foot wide screen were WEST SIDE STORY, SPENCER’S MOUNTAIN, CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED, WHAT A WAY TO GO, PLAY MISTY FOR ME, and LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH. The final film shown on the original big screen was THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK in 1972.

When the BOGGY CREEK run ended GCC closed it for several weeks reopening it as a triplex in 1973. All the character of the original Britton was destroyed—it was pretty bad. Evidently proud of the job they had done GCC then quickly twinned the Loew’s Theatre on Westshore effectively destroying another beautiful theatre. In 1992 Movieco took over ownership of the Britton and cut it into an 8-plex—it was horrendous. I only went once out of curiosity and never again.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on February 21, 2014 at 3:54 am

After GCC pulled out the theater was divided from 3-8 theaters and it was one of the worst cut job I ever saw in a theater. How they have stayed open all these years is beyond me. AMC Twin Bays in the next plaza was much nicer.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on February 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm

The Logo you’re thinking of is GCC.

Marc_Wielage
Marc_Wielage on February 20, 2014 at 1:37 am

I remember the Britton Theater as it existed in the 1960s, when it was just one GIANT single theater. I believe it held roughly 1200-1300 seats. My memory is that there might have been a balcony at the back. The shopping center was not entirely finished, so there was a vacant lot on the right side of the theater with a wooden wall covering most of it up. A faded sign on the brick wall of the theater advertised Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” which would’ve been from 1959, but my own memories only start from around 1962. I believe the first movie I saw there was “Taras Bulba,” which would’ve been from that year.

The theater was fairly upscale, kind of a competition to the downtown Tampa and Florida theaters, and they actually had ushers in uniforms and all that stuff. All the way through the late 1960s, they’d show a newsreel, a cartoon short, a couple of trailers, and then the feature. And they always had the memorable AMC logo with the annoying spinning projector logo and the harpsichord/bass song (variations of which still exist with AMC today).

The Britton Plaza theater kind of fell apart over time, and I know they divided it up and turned it into a multiplex. But it was a great theater for me, and I saw some memorable films there. I think the one that had the largest crowd in local history was “Thunderball,” where I swear, the ticket line stretched about a block all the way down the shopping center and to the left, towards the drug store that used to be there. Huge, crazy, massive crowds, easily two thousand people. I also had terrific memories of seeing “Our Man Flint,” “You Only Live Twice,” and a few bad Elvis movies. Palma Ceia was a great neighborhood to grow up in, and the Britton was a very well-run theater for its time.

RRF
RRF on July 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I remember seeing Oklahoma in Todd-AO 70mm…..it was originally a single screen roadshow cinema.

classictoonsand
classictoonsand on May 28, 2013 at 12:39 am

Cvolosin, You’re probably right about the theatre closing soon because they don’t want to convert to Digital Projection. However I would rather watch a movie here than Bradenton mall. Thug city is what that theatre is set in. It’s 50 cents for a reason and I’m sure they will close too because of the area. At least the Britton sits in a plaza with a mix of upscale clientel and middle to low class so cops patrol constantly.

The projectors at the Britton are NOT the original Century projectors. They were replaced by Cinemacannica V5 in 1992 and most recently two auditoriums were replaced by Christie projectors and platters for their Bollywood crowd. No, the elevator is not fixed yet and the rumor mill has churned out that instead of keeping up with code, they will close cinema 7 and 8 upstairs thus making them a 6 plex. Doesn’t matter with only the Bollywood films packing them in every other month BUT then again it’s been said the tenant Venkat lost his right to exhibit Indian films at this location.

So everything is up in the air. Anyone’s guess is as good as mine on the actual fate. I will say that the tenant has signed a 5 year lease with the Gator cinema in Gainesville. That makes the Britton’s fate more apt to close since he was looking to pull out of this plaza. I wish his mama would have pulled out. Anyway the Britton Plaza owner has been taking pictures of the theatre lately from the outside so I think it may be soon in it’s closing.

cvolosin
cvolosin on May 6, 2013 at 1:36 am

Rofl Carlos as that is the death of the cinema… Britton will be a lost treasure soon!! Even the Ruskin Drive-in went Digital last year… The equipment at britton is ORIGINAL with the exceptions of the lamp houses. That elevator fixed yet? New owner in 2010 now 2013… Still broke.. I have seen several $1 theaters already convert to digital, they are very successful value locations that larger chains abandoned because of profit margin..

You can watch those same movies in the Bradenton mall 6 weeks later for .50 on Tuesdays in a multiplex built in the 80’s as a multi not a single screen split into 8 built in the 30’s .

CAD
CAD on May 6, 2013 at 1:12 am

I like this theater strictly for the old school feel of it. When I first saw a movie there last year, I felt like I went back to 1985. If there’s a first run movie that I might have missed, I can go to the Britton and watch it for $5. Everything about the theater is outdated, they don’t even accept credit or debit cards (ATM inside), and the sound system is terrible. Nevertheless, it’s a fun place to catch a flick when you have nothing better to do.

seroth
seroth on September 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

My name is Sam Roth and I was 1 of the managers at the Britton Plaza 8 in the Summer of 2006. At the time Zota were the owners and they didnt seem to care much about the Britton, especially after a major rainstorm hit Tampa the first week of June and one of the top theaters was flooded out and the rain water leaked into the Main theatre downstairs. There was 1 gentleman, John Petrey, who was responsible for maintaining the older model projectors-and he was very good at his job. No word on where he is now, but hopefully he is somewhere taking care of a movie theater. I am now in the St. Louis area after my late wife pasted while living in Valdosta, GA. Good Luck and Godspeed to the New Britton Cinema 8. I wish you well. Sam Roth. .

cvolosin
cvolosin on March 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Well I don’t believe it, but late 2011 this theater went 1st run again with a matinee price of $3 and evening $6 with NO UPGRADES.. Do I see it closing again when the problem of a digital upgrade LOOMS?!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Now playing here April 7 1963 is “PHAEDRA"Adults only. no children or student tickets sold.

cvolosin
cvolosin on December 27, 2010 at 4:20 am

Pete, are you saying that the plaza owner wants the theater to go first run? Or the operator? There is no way in you know where that they could make money as a 1st run location without a gut-rehab. It is destined as a sub run for the rest of it’s life. I would not see anyone invesitng that much money in such an old location with too much new competition!
I am dissapointed to hear that they are not marketing, and operating the location as it could be a gold mine as a dollar house if someone came in and cleaned the crap out of it! The dust on the speakers was 3 inches thick when I was here this this time last year. If you are aware if this is a yearly lease, I know a successful operator with 9 locations (6 being discount houses) that has equipment who would love to come into Tampa!
Chuck

classictoonsand
classictoonsand on December 26, 2010 at 2:20 am

The Britton Theatre 8 in Tampa is run by what was called FIVE STAR THEATRES. They have now dropped that name. The India(n)s that run this theatre are associated with, although they will make no such claim, is: View link and they advertise their India(n) films at www.forindians.com Their website may say they are not affiliated with any other websites however this is clearly not true.

It’s been leaked in the plaza that the theatre sits that once again they are promising First Run features at the beginning of the year 2011.

I’d also like to point out that this theatre has never repaired theatre 5 since Zota vacated it in 2008 so you can actually call this the Britton Theare 7. The elevator has been “temporarily out of service” since they have opened.

The Plaza management has been alerted as well as the maintenance people on the grounds in case of theft of equipment when their carnival leaves town.

Well, after that rant I can honestly say they have had only two reputable owners lease this theatre and that is General Cinema and Regal Cinemas. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm

thanks Nick for the article.

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on September 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

When the Britton was opened in the mid 1950s, it was described as the “largest theatre south of Washington, D.C.” I wouldn’t know how accurate that was, but I certainly remember that it was described that way.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on June 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

tlsloews, It’s amazing that none of the theatres in your city were destroyed by dividing. I just assumed theatres in every city were suffering the same fate but apparently not. Locally there were three large theatres that received the split treatment: the Britton, the Loews, and the Hillsboro I. The Loew’s/Austin was one of the worst examples of this trend.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Cool artical and photos Nick,I know it is hard to make them look good at least you have some old stuff to post I never kept any of my old stuff except one-sheets.Luckly none of my theatres were divited they just built as one screens even the Loews Melrose with 1000 seats including the balcony would have worked unless they were real small theatres,there was talk of it but it never happened. The Loews Crescent with 830 seats maybe could have been split but they would have been very long skinny theatres with small screens.And I just thought there were only exit doors on the left side of the house so the fire codes would not let this happen.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on June 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Here’s an article on the reopening of the Britton as a triplex on June 28, 1973. A photo shows a portion of the original auditorium with the new smaller screen that replaced the original 60-foot wide screen which was torn out. I focused the ad to the max but still not the best quality. Text of article continues on bottom link.
View link

Text continued from above:
View link

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on May 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm

tlsloews, At least you remembered the film “Sleeper” and your $1.50 per hour when you began in the business. I can’t recall which films were playing my first night on the job at the Dale Mabry Drive-In. But I can’t forget my $5.00 per night pay that amounted to about .83 cents an hour!

Mike, I saw “Paper Moon” on my first visit. Afterwards I peeked in the shoebox cinema I to see how “The Sound of Music” was doing and it was crowded. I was standing at the back for a few minutes when suddenly the reel ended and the picture went off the screen making loud bleeping & popping noises as it ran completely through the projector and soundhead leaving a brightly lit screen for a few seconds. POOR SHOWMANSHIP! Where was the projectionist..?!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Hope the old ladies didn’t slip into cinema 2. Great ad. I started on “FOR PETE’S SAKE” rated PG.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 25, 2010 at 10:46 am

Nice ad Nick,1973 the first year I was in the business showing Woody Allens SLEEPER at the LOEWS MELROSE $1.50 an hour as a doorman.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on May 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Grand re-opening ad from 1973:
View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

She will sooner or later.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 15, 2010 at 7:50 am

Nick, i try and cruise and see what you and TLSloew comment on. Was checking Robin’s theatres,but she’s sorta dropped out.Hope she puts Tlsloews Drive-in pictures on.