Northgate Theatre

9350 Dyer Street,
El Paso, TX 79924

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diapason
diapason on October 24, 2009 at 11:14 am

Let’s give the Northgate its due — it was a very nice high-class first-run place when it opened. It may have looked a little spartan compared to the razzle-dazzle design of older venues, but that just refelects the architectural style of its day. It fell on hard times when its neighborhood declined and the shopping center gradually went downhill and finally closed.

The Northgate not only had a great location on the parking lot of the largest shopping center in that entire end of El Paso, but it was also close to Irvin High School and right next door to a branch library. Early on, kids were known to tell their parents they would be studying at the library after school, when they really planned to hit the Northgate in a big group. Sometimes they’d swarm the box office and then surround the ticket-taker, confusing everybody while many of them slipped in without paying.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 24, 2009 at 3:44 pm

my mistake. It was 1966.

Coate
Coate on August 31, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Doesn’t anyone read the older comment postings??? I cited the correct 1966 opening date in my post of March 31, 2009.

simbared
simbared on August 31, 2009 at 8:36 pm

The Grand Opening ad is a great find. I was 13 years old, and we rode our bikes over to the theater when we saw the searchlight (the old carbon arc version). There were reporters interviewing people on the red carpet. It was a big deal for an otherwise boring part of town. The date had to be June 1966, though. The movie wasn’t released until December 1965.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 31, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Grand opening ad from June 24th, 1965 is at View link

simbared
simbared on May 31, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Contrary to the description above, the Northgate Theatre was/is a free-standing building, not part of a strip mall. The building included a few small retail spaces to the left of the theatre entrance. The theatre was built near the Southwest corner of Northgate Shopping Center, a large and popular mall in the 1960’s. Patrons parked in the shopping center parking lot. It was the only walk-in theatre in Northeast El Paso for decades, and offered first-run movies as well as 50-cent Saturday matinees for kids. Sonny and Cher actually made an appearance there when their movie “Good Times” made its El Paso debut in 1967. It was originally a single-screen theatre, and later divied into two screens.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Boxoffice Magazine published an article about the opening of the Northgate in its issue of July 11, 1966. An invitational preview party was held on June 23, the night before the house opened to the public, and included a screening of “The Glass Bottom Boat.”

The Northgate was designed by Nesmith-Lane & Associates. I’ve searched the Internet and can’t find anything else designed by this firm other than the shopping center in which the theater was located and an El Paso warehouse for a Coca-Cola bottler. It’s likely that this was the only theater they designed.

Coate
Coate on April 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I need to correct a detail I mentioned a few posts ago.

The Northgate was not the first theater in Texas to get Dolby Stereo as originally claimed. That distinction, I believe, belongs to the Medallion in Dallas. Nor was Northgate the first in El Paso to get Dolby. That distinction belongs to a place called American Star (which I don’t think has a page here on Cinema Treasures).

Northgate did eventually install Dolby (a CP50) in autumn 1977 for their engagement of “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.”

Coate
Coate on April 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Thanks, moderators, for updating the theater name. Why not also update the address and seat count? I provided both details in my second of two March 31 postings.

Coate
Coate on March 31, 2009 at 12:09 pm

What’s your point, raysson? Do a “Northgate” search here and you’ll find eleven theaters with that name. Do the same search on CinemaTour.com and you’ll get a hit of over twenty.

raysson
raysson on March 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm

FYI: There is also a Northgate Theatre listed in Durham,North Carolina as well. Listed in Cinema Treasures as the Northgate Twin Theatres.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on March 31, 2009 at 8:40 am

I vaguely remember that place. I grew up in El Paso, and every time we went to the movies, it was either a drive-in or on Fort Bliss post. Cheap movies that way. My father had a friend that was the ticket taker, and well you can guess we never paid to get in.

Coate
Coate on March 31, 2009 at 7:20 am

Some background details…

The Northgate opened on June 24, 1966. The debut attraction was a roadshow presentation of “Doctor Zhivago,” which would go on to run for 14 weeks.

The venue was located in the Northgate Center. Newspaper advertising generally listed its location as Dyer at Diana, though I believe the actual street address was 9350 Dyer.

Grand-opening newspaper promotion boasted:
The ultimate in…
– Restful seating with plenty of leg room
– Giant screen with distortion-free images
– Full-range stereophonic sound
– Year-round air conditioning
– Acres of free parking

An El Paso Herald-Post columnist cited the seat-count as 826.

The original operator was Interstate Theatres. In 1971, the company became known as ABC Interstate.

According to the records of Dolby Labs (circa 1977), Northgate was the first cinema in Texas to order a Dolby Stereo sound system.

Coate
Coate on March 31, 2009 at 7:09 am

The photo in the link from the post above illustrates the Northgate was a theatRE, not a theatER.

I hate to nit-pick over that detail, but the Cinema Treasures posting guidelines encourage members to make the distinction.

DonLewis
DonLewis on March 8, 2008 at 10:42 am

A 1976 photo of the Northgate Theater in El Paso.