Cinemagic 5 Tri-State Mall

I-95 & Naamans Road,
Claymont, DE

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Showing 15 comments

chinatownkid
chinatownkid on September 19, 2012 at 6:08 am

I probably saw more movies as a kid at this theater than any other one. Everything from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Trek 2 to obscure oddities like Inchon…

cinebob
cinebob on August 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

This is where I saw STAR WARS in 1977. Also Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Grease, The Thing, Porky’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark among many others. Had a good run thru all of the 70’s and 80’s. Started getting a little sketchy in the 90’s and I stopped going there. Fond memories, but Tri-State Mall needs to be bulldozed.

jwheckert
jwheckert on June 30, 2011 at 3:44 am

“Scream” played in the theater from December 96-August 97. In the little shoe box theater #5. A nine month run. I’m pretty sure it was still playing when the film was released to video! Hah!

offhollywood
offhollywood on April 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

I went at least once in the later part of the 80s. Almost went to see the Star Trek movie that opened in 1997.
I can’t recall if it closed and reopened in the meantime. At some point it opened up as a comedy theater. I haven’t been to that mall much since Value City turned into Burlington Coat Factory.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 8, 2010 at 3:57 am

Great comment Stan.

StanMalone
StanMalone on August 27, 2010 at 4:12 am

Thanks for the stories ediemer. This link is for a theatre near Atlanta Georgia..

/theaters/17682/

The first comment has my story of having to run the endless loop platter.

I could never get over the lengths the theatre owners would go to trying to get rid of the projectionist position.

I worked the projection booth at the NATO convention when it came to Atlanta in 1987. The Christie company had one of these things set up on the exhibit floor with a big display reading “Let The Gremlins Do It.” I guess the gremlins were not covered by the minimum wage law. People were free to wander the exhibit area at any time during the 3 day convention, but on the final day there was a two hour period set aside for everyone to attend at the same time. When I walked through on that day I noticed that the platter was not turning and thought someone might be giving a demo to the crowd gathered around it. No such thing. When I made my way to the front I saw that the film had either backed off of the edge or had been slung off onto the floor. Two Christie reps were on hands and knees splicing away trying to get the mess cleaned up before the end of the exhibition period.

That night at the banquet I ran my five presentation reels flawlessly without the help of a platter, endless loop or otherwise. Later I saw the DM of the company I worked for and asked him if he noticed the difference in the way I ran the booth compared to the endless loop platter he had also seen that afternoon. He just said “You have to keep up with the times” as he walked away. Theatre owners: they would spend $10 to aviod paying someone a buck and still think that they had come out ahead.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 11, 2010 at 2:53 am

thanks ediemer for a well written article.

raymondstewart
raymondstewart on August 11, 2010 at 1:29 am

I remember seeing Fiddler on the Roof here as a child. I don’t recall, but it may have been a hard ticket show. I also recall it being on the news when Godfather came out for people needing medical attention from the “shock”. Hard to believe how cutting edge it was then considering it can be shown on TV today almost completely uncut.

ronnie21
ronnie21 on August 11, 2010 at 12:53 am

Halloween 2 played there in October 30th 1981 lasted a few weeks later. Also, THe THing played there in 1982.

ediemer
ediemer on August 3, 2010 at 3:48 am

Pardon the correction-the above should have read “opened in 1969”!

ediemer
ediemer on August 3, 2010 at 3:43 am

The first screen opened in 1968, with a seating capacity of 1,400. (Boxoffice 1/30/69, p.12)

ronnie21
ronnie21 on May 22, 2010 at 4:24 am

I seen alot of movies here. I think it last till around 1995. but its heyday was the 80’s.
I seen so many movies here. I saw raiders of the lost ark in 1981. I seen at least 3 friday the 13ths. THe last time i was there was around 1992.

ediemer
ediemer on May 24, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I went here for years, and later worked for United Artists at the time they operated the theater. Jordan is right-for years the Tri-State had the reputation for playing the biggest of the blockbusters! It opened as a twin in ‘68-'69, although one screen was delayed for some reason. Theater 1 (about 1,500 seats), and Theater 2 (about 600 seats), faced a central concession area, which eliminated the need for extensive soundproofing. The big house was equipped with Norelco DP 35/70mm projectors, and Ampex sound. 1977 was an important year-the Tri-State was one of the very few theaters to play “Star Wars” on it’s opening weekend. I was there, and it was amazing. Unfortunitely, they also decided to twin the large house a month or so later and moved the print across to the smaller house. The large house was reduced to 820 seats, retaining the 70mm equipment, and the new 3rd cinema was a horrible bowling-alley of a place. Most theaters used platters by then, but #3 used a continuous-loop system; a piece of sensing tape on the film shut everything down when the show was over. It was ghastly-the projectors could not be cleaned because the film could not be removed, and the dirty film constantly scraped against itself literally scraping off an emulsion layer. Audiences showed their appreciation by lobbing beer bottles through the projector port hole. Theater upkeep began to really suffer-this was the time when studios demanded up-front payments of $125,000 per screen for the most anticipated “blockbusters”, often before the films were even made. You could pay in installments, but the final payment was due before the print would be shipped. This was a great system for the studios-as long as you had a director with a reputation for staying on budget, the whole thing could be financed on the back of the theaters. Ever wonder why some directors made picture after picture despite having one flop after another? There’s your answer. The theaters kept all of the boxoffice till until the $125,000 was met, (agreed operating expenses, called the “house nut” were permitted to be deducted first, which helped.) One had to play the film for an agreed time-sometimes 12 weeks! Anyway, this system was runinous for Sameric Theaters. They were hit all at once with flops like “The Other Side Of Midnight”, “Exorcist 2”, “A Bridge Too Far”, etc. which they paid heavily for-and the studios were not interested in giving refunds. The guarantee for “Star Wars” was very small, and the theaters made that back before the end of the first weekend. That is why I believe nobody will ever know just how much “Star Wars” really made-too many opportunities to skim cash, especially when everybody was going broke!
1981 saw the twinning of Screen #2; the 600-seater split into two small houses of about 250-60 seats. Another botch-the doors opened directly into the lobby, so the screen would be flooded with light every time one went in and out. (This was a problem at Sameric’s West Goshen theater too-car headlights from outside would literally wash-out the picture!) 1982 finally saw the installation of Dolby Stereo, but only in the large house. The nearby factory closed down at this time, and the area surrounding the mall deteriorated rapidly. This was was plain to everybody by 1983, when Sameric booked “Return of the Jedi” at the inferior Concordville Theater even though the first two in the “Star Wars” series were hugely successful at Tri-State. A few years later, Sameric bought out a furniture store to the left of the theater and opened Screen #5. This was barely a theater, holding perhaps 50 seats, and it was used as a screen to dump duds that they were forced to keep playing. The storage space behind the screen was welcome, though. Sameric sold out to United Artists, and UA pulled the plug on the theater in 1992. Cinemagic made a go at it after that, but not for long.

jordanlage
jordanlage on February 3, 2009 at 2:37 pm

It started as a twin maybe in the late ‘60s, early '70s and was known for showing the blockbusters of the time. I remember lines of people snaking through the center of the mall and out the front entrance waiting for 1st -run showings of movies like THE STING and STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Tri-State Mall cinemas was turned into a triplex in the mid-'80s. The last film I recall seeing there in their woefully small 3rd theater (the larger Twin 1 had been partitioned to create the 3rd theater) was WALL STREET. By then northern Delawareans had begun to move on to other newer malls in the area for their filmgoing experience or had become addicted to their VCRs and the Tri-State Mall was no longer a desirable place to catch to a movie. The theaters showed their age (20 years?), wear and tear was obvious. Not sure when it was turned into a quintuplex(?), though it can’t have brought in too many patrons. Don’t know when it shuttered for good but by the time it did, Tri-State Mall was a pretty desolate place.

raymondstewart
raymondstewart on December 20, 2006 at 1:28 am

I think at one point GCC controlled this location. I only ever recall it as a twin, but I moved away in the late 70’s.