Granada Theatre

3176 Main Street,
Buffalo, NY 14214

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tsar
tsar on July 28, 2013 at 1:57 am

The Granada was in the University Heights district of Buffalo. I lived in the neighboring community of Eggertsville so I saw movies here and at The Amherst as a child. Granada would sometimes play classic old movie matinees in the 70s like King Kong that us kids would go to. Later I remember as a teenager walking down Main street to the Granada for my first ever viewing of Rocky Horror in 1981. I think they finally demolished it a couple years later.

alknobloch
alknobloch on February 27, 2010 at 2:16 am

What really helped to kill this theater was lack of adequate parking. Basically, it had no lot at all, leaving patrons to ferret out street spots in a area with popular restaurants.

It’s proximity to the State University of New York at Buffalo helped to keep it running while it’s nearest competition, the Amherst, had tons of parking in a shopping mall and was only about a half mile away.

Another nail in the coffin was when the University Student Union decided to convert a lecture hall in their building into a 35MM theater. Despite objections from the local theaters, the film fanatics that were in charge managed to get a pair of Simplex E-7's
from a closed local theater and install them. The hall was actually built to accommodate such a thing, with the fire shutters already in place on the projection booth. Actually, it was technically quite spiffy, also installing a Century 4-channel magnetic stripe unit with 3 huge Voice of the Theater speakers behind screen and wall mounted units in theater.
The trick was, you had to be a student to get tickets – thereby allowing them to book popular films as well as foreign ones. Since the hall was originally called the Norton Conference Hall, it became known as the Norton Conference Theater – but not being a legit house, you won’t find it listed anywhere.

I inspected and ran their films for many years — which involved encountering things not normally associated with your average projectionist work:
Frequently they would somehow exhume prints that hadn’t been run in decades (like Moby Dick) that would barely make it through one or two showings (it’s fun to watch the film outside the sprockets peel off in long strips while it’s running!).
The machines were old and would periodically break down. It’s very difficult and borderline dangerous to tell a hallway full of stoned kids that they can’t see “Gimmie Shelter” due to technical problems (I ran an entire day on one machine, bringing up house lights every 20 minutes to change reels — pre platter days — now it’s pre digital download days — OH MY!) …. and YES, the arc housing got REALLY hot!!!
Then there was the infamous run of ‘2001’ – a favorite of the stoners. A popular audience thing was to lay on the stage with their feet up against the screen and trip out during the light show portion — one showing a guy appeared at the booth door claiming that the film was taking the wrong direction, but if he could get at the projector he could correct the course and save everybody. They carried him out of the building screaming and ranting………
I won’t say everyone was under the influence, but I think you could walk up the light beam from the screen to the booth!
Yet this was not as bad as the day the Black Student Union invaded the theater during a screening, jumping on stage and announcing that ‘2001’ was a racist film and they were shutting it down — and that’s exactly what they did by ripping down the screen, kicking in the speakers, charging the booth and ripping the 2 reels of film out of the machines and stealing them. Luckily they didn’t kick over the arc machines. Upon learing that MGM was taking legal action to get the film back, they decided it wasn’t that racist after all and returned them.

AH, THE GOOD OLD DAYS……..

But I digress —–

The Amherst Theater survived by dividing itself into 3 theaters – the Granada was not so fortunate (if one can call such survival tactics ‘fortunate’) and eventually went x-rated before the wrecking ball finally arrived. From it’s extremely small entrance on Main St., I’m sure many people never knew of the fantastic interior and superior management and projection of that 60’s-70’s period.

DianaD got it right: it was INDEED a time when the movies were a big deal – and had her dad been running it today, I’m sure it’s booking of ‘Avatar’ in 3-D would have been the best anywhere!

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Good stories and history on this site.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Your dad was in Boxoffice magazine in September 1972:
http://tinyurl.com/ycfw9v9

cd604
cd604 on February 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

My dad, Earl L. Hubbard Jr, managed the Granada Theater in Buffalo, N.Y. in the early 1960’s and into early 1970’s. It was a marvelous theater with all the perks, wall to wall carpeting, padded seats, chandeliers and drapes that hung over the screen that opened and closed. The picture screen went wall to wall! It was a time when the movies were a big deal when the stars actually went to grand openings at theaters. I remember seeing Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn and Tommy Sands at the premier of “Babes in Toyland” and Todd Armstrong at the opening of “Jason and the Argonauts”. Thanks for the memories Granada Theater and dad, Earl L. Hubbard, Jr. from daughter Diana.

alknobloch
alknobloch on May 18, 2009 at 9:54 am

This was truly an amazing theater that had the audacity to run films most mainstream houses avoided. Some of this boldness came from its proximity to the University of Buffalo, some from its superb equipment.

While most older, converted theaters managed to fit their screens inside an original prosenium arch, the Granada’s screen ran literally from wall to wall. The original arch was left intact behind said screen, and could actually be seen upon demolition if one was willing to poke around in the ruins.

Aside from the Cinemiracle presentation of “Windjammer”, probably their most audacious booking was the 1963 Russian version of “War and Peace”. This was the first Russian film shot in 70mm 6-channel sound and cost $100 million at the time (about $700 million today)! It’s extreme running time of 7 to 8 hours required running it in 2 parts on different nights. Not exactly a house moneymaker at the time..

As time went on and multiplexes took over, this theater was finally reduced to running light porn films from 16mm xenon projectors — I know because I was a projectionist at the Norton Conference Theater on the U.B. campus when the Granada owners tried to hire us to run these films. (No, I didn’t take the job – Playboy was good enough)

Really, a sad end to such an adventurous theater ——–

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 16, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Here is the Granada in 1982.

Patsy
Patsy on April 28, 2008 at 8:35 am

Below is an email comment about the Granada that a friend in Buffalo sent to me:

“The website is wrong – yes, there is a gas station on the corner, but the auditorium was behind the gas station on Winspear where the parking lot is.”

railroad
railroad on April 8, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Phone number 1960: PArkside 7746

LouB
LouB on March 22, 2008 at 9:58 pm

View link

The above website has a photo of the Granada.

RJT70mm
RJT70mm on September 27, 2007 at 8:05 am

The original ToddAO projectors were installed in 1957 for a moveover run of Around the World in 80 Days after it played at the downtown Century. These machines were moved to the Eckel in Syracuse for the opening of Sleeping Beauty in February 1959. The Granada played Windjammer in CineMiracle at this time and later installed another pair of ToddAO projectors.
There were 5 Schine theatres equipped with Norelco 70mm projectors: The Granada, the Monroe and Riviera in Rochester, the Eckel in Syracuse and the Strand in Lexington, Kentucky.
I was friends with George Stein, head of projection and sound for Schine. He supervised all of those installations. He’s been gone for many years.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on September 27, 2007 at 7:02 am

The WurliTzer Theater Pipe Organ was sold in May of 1967. It is supposed to be playable in a private residence in Buttonville a suburban community within the town of Markham, which is directly north on Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“Gee Dad, it’s a WurliTzer!”

LouB
LouB on September 8, 2007 at 8:32 am

View link

This website also shows a picture of the Granada.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on September 7, 2007 at 2:36 pm

I travelled across the border from Canada to see El-Cid presented at the Granada in
70mm Super Technirama. I don’t know about it having the best 70mm projection in the world, but I do remember that it was outstanding.

Ziggy
Ziggy on September 7, 2007 at 1:22 pm

I attended UB, and must have driven past the remains of this theatre literally hundreds of times. It was easy to see that the building had some theatrical history, and I had always wondered what it was. It’s nice to know. By the way, the facade is much more attractive than the photographs make it look.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 7, 2007 at 12:42 pm

A Wurlitzer theater organ opus 1570 style SP 3M was installed in the Granada Theater on 2/3/1927. Status: sold.

Buffalo International Film Festival
Buffalo International Film Festival on August 14, 2007 at 10:01 am

22 February 1927
3176 Main Street
ARCHITECTS: Bacon & Lurkey
ORGAN: Wurlitzer
NOTE: 1,700 seats; no balcony. Spanish-influenced wooden designs. One of the first theatres in the world, after the Regent, to be set up with Todd-AO prototype machines. The Cinerama screen was placed on rails, and the curvature was variable. Had the best sound system in the area. Opening feature was Battling Butler. This is where Rocky Horror first played its Buffalo midnight run.
CURRENT STATUS: Demolished in 1990. Empty lot, though the apartment above the vestibule is suspended in air, and is still decorated with the Vikings.

Located near the original University of Buffalo Campus (at Main Street and Winspear) and not in downtown Buffalo, The Granada had the distinction of being one of the premiere 70mm/ToddAO theaters in the world. Equipped with the original, prototype ToddAO lenses developed in Buffalo by Buffalo Optical Company for Mike Todd’s Around the World in 80 days, the Granada had what was probably the finest 70mm projection in the world. Roadshow productions like Lawrence of Arabia never looked as good anywhere else!

The whereabouts of the projectors and these lenses is not known.

LouB
LouB on August 13, 2007 at 10:27 am

www.pbase.com/kjosker/theaters

This link shows the theater today in its use as a pizzeria.