Eric Mark I Theatre
1800 Market Street,
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The Eric Mark I was located in the basement of the Holiday Inn Hotel. The movie theater was opened by the Sameric Corporation, Philadelphia movie theater operators, on September 2, 1970.
After purchasing movie tickets from the ticket booth, people went on an escalator or stairway downstairs. The lobby had furniture and modern art including paintings. The theater’s interior was plush. The entire theater was carpeted, even under the seats. By the 1980’s, the color scheme of the entire theater was green.
The auditorium sat 611. A curtain was used before the screen. First run mainstream movies were shown on the very large movie screen, likely at least 40 feet wide for scope films. The auditorium was sometimes rented out in the morning for classes.
When the Mark I was built, Market Street West had many movie theaters, including the Fox and Stanley movie palaces. During the 1970’s and 1980’s many of the movie theaters were demolished, mostly for replacement with office skyscrapers. At night time and during weekends, Market West was dead to pedestrian life, with block after block of office skyscrapers and no retail or restaurants open in the evenings. Neighboring Chestnut Street West continued to have many movie theaters in the 1980’s, but as this theater become the only mainstream movie theater on Market Street, not enough moviegoers found their way to it.
In the 1970’s, some movies at the Mark I had reserved seating, In the 1980’s, because of its large screen size and overall comfort, with the main (Boyd) auditorium of the Sam Eric and the larger of the two auditoriums of Sam’s Place, the Eric Mark I was one of the best moviehouses of Center City for mainstream movies. The restored "Lawrence of Arabia" was shown here in in 70mm in 1989 and with long lines of ticket buyers. The Eric Mark I closed in October 1989, the hotel staff then informing the press that the hotel would use the space for other purposes. The hotel has since been remodeled, leaving no trace of the ticket booth and the escalator and stairs that went downstairs. The auditorium was stripped of seats, but the now bare space has remained. The hotel name has changed to Crowne Plaza Hotel, and then in 2012 became the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia..
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