Eric Mark I Theatre

1800 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Viewing: Photo | Street View

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..

Contributed by Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

nostalaged on January 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Loved seeing “Compromising Positions” here with Raul Julia & Susan Sarandon & also “Ruthless People” with Bette Midler, both back in the 80’s. I remember how green it was color schematically & had a very underground feel to it, even though it was very spacious.

kencmcintyre on January 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I haven’t thought about this theater in a long time. I went to one movie there, title unrecalled, on a cold winter day, probably because I was tired of being outside. As Howard points out in the introduction, this wasn’t the happening part of town in the 80s.

ediemer on June 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I went to this theater only once-to see “Dune” in 70mm. It really was not the greatest place to see a film-because of the entrances below it, the screen was not centered, but pushed to one side. People sitting on the one side were definitely out of luck. 70mm equipment was installed for “Star Wars”-the film had been playing there for some time when they made the change. The screen was rather small, so it didn’t make much difference. But 70mm at Sam’s Place or the Sameric (Boyd) was a different matter!

ediemer on June 21, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I should have said that “Star Wars” had been playing at Eric’s Place “for some time” before they moved it to the Mark I-six months, in fact! Remember how all Sameric theaters were required to have those two dog statues in the lobby by order of owner Shapiro? They were his dogs Duke and Duchess. Of course he named a theater after them, like he did for his son Eric. (Eric’s Place) He was nuts about those dogs-when they died, the theaters went “dark” in memory. The son ended up dying young from too much money, drugs and partying-the theaters didn’t go dark then! Anyway, the dog statues hung around for years, long after people forgot what they were for. Usually one was broken…

HowardBHaas on June 21, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I saw more movies at the Eric Mark I than you did, and am going to disagree about the screen being “small” though it wasn’t as huge as the screen at the Boyd (Sameric).

For a long time, we had a photo of one of the dogs in the Sameric (Boyd) on our website ( It is not there now, but maybe later we will put it back up.

LeifJonker on July 4, 2010 at 9:34 am

No photo links for the Eric Mark 1?

lonixcap on September 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

Saw Star Wars, Barry Lyndon, and The Deer Hunter there. For 70mm, it did seem small compared to the Boyd. I just remember the then-new Dolby Stereo during the space battles in Star Wars and, yeah, it rocked!

HowardBHaas on June 3, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I’ve today placed a rendering, in the photo gallery.

HowardBHaas on June 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

another photo

Marlon Martinez
Marlon Martinez on June 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Howard, I love how every car in the 70’s was dented with a hubcap missing:) Have anyone been able to access the basement of the hotel to see what it looks like now?

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