Eastwood Mall Theatre

1600 Montclair Road,
Birmingham, AL 35210

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Eastwood Mall Theatre

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The Eastwood Mall Theatre opened on December 25, 1964 as a single screen movie theatre. Operated by Cobb Theatres, it was twinned in the mid-1970’s.

After closing in the 1990’s, it was mostly demolished in the mid-1990’s. The mall was rebuilt, but without a theatre, it was later demolished in 2004.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

StanMalone
StanMalone on January 23, 2009 at 11:51 am

I can supply a little information for this theatre as I attended it several times while growing up in Birmingham. Eastwood Mall was the first enclosed mall in Birmingham and was located at the extreme eastern edge of Birmingham on US 78 near the Starlight Drive In and the great Golden Rule BBQ.

It was opened by the Cobb Theatre company in the early 60’s, probably around 1964. Although not unusual compared to most other theatres of its era, it marked a major change in Birmingham movie theatre history. Until it opened, 95% of first run movies opened at one of the four major downtown theatres, the Alabama, Ritz, Melba, and Empire. Eastwood was the first suburban first run theatre, and the seating capacity was probably around 600. The style was definitely the 60’s living room look with draped auditorium walls and sofas and chairs in the lobby. The lobby was open air to the Mall itself and at night was secured by a wire gate. The box office was a desk like counter at the entrance to the lobby.

Among the movies I can remember seeing at Eastwood were Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Great Race, Khartoum, and The Battle of the Bulge. I am sure that there were others, and a look at that list shows that it booked a lot of prime movies. I remember Sound of Music and Battle of the Bulge were reserved seats. Business was so good here that Cobb soon opened a twin across the road in the new Village East Shopping Center. These were just a couple of ugly shoebox houses and perfect examples of the bland style of 1970’s era theatres. The Eastwood fell victim to the twinning plague that swept the country in those days and was split down the center in the mid 70’s.

As with so many of the early malls around the country, by the late 80’s Eastwood Mall found itself in a shabby state and far outclassed by the newer malls, Brookwood and Galleria. The mall was gutted and the wing that included the theatre was torn down and completely rebuilt, without a movie theatre presence.

The wonderful website, Birmingham Rewound, has a page on Eastwood Mall:
http://www.birminghamrewound.com/EastwoodMall/

View link Click on this link and scroll to the last picture for an overhead view. The theatre is in the lower left and the drive in is in the upper right.

StanMalone
StanMalone on January 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm

To clarify my description of the picture in the above post, the theatre is in the lower left hand corner of the mall, not the picture itself. It is the small white building sticking out from the mall.

I have also noticed that some more pictures have been added. If you will click on the page 2 link and scroll about half way down, you will see a fine picture of the marquee, one of lobby and concession stand, and one of the auditorium.

The narrative states that the theatre opened on Christmas Day of 1964.

tfrielin
tfrielin on January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Yes, the Eastwood Mall Theatre was a gem in its day. It is demolished now, but it had already been ruined when it was twinned in the late ‘70s. The twinning eliminated its capability to show Cinerama movies. It had the special projection equipment and curved screen for showing Cinerama movies. I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ice Station Zebra there, plus many more regular formatted movies. If you haven’t seen 2001 in Cinerama format, you’ve not seen 2001. Sadly the entire Mall is now gone, replaced by, yes, another WalMart.

StanMalone
StanMalone on June 4, 2015 at 2:53 pm

An article in the Birmingham News on March 1, 1967 states that the Eastwood Mall owners, the Waters family was in discussion to sell the mall to the Alabama Farm Bureau insurance company. The Waters were the owners of several Birmingham drive ins which were taken over by the R.C. Cobb company around 1968. Cobb Theatres operated the Eastwood Mall Theatre.

Waters also owned the Starlite Drive In located next door to the Eastwood Mall. The article said that there was also discussions ongoing about a possible sale of that location to Farm Bureau but that it would not be part of the sale of the Mall. The Starlite later started appearing in the Cobb ads so maybe Cobb got it while Farm Bureau got the Mall. Or, maybe Farm Bureau did buy the drive in and leased it to Cobb until they decided they needed it to expand the mall.

Either way, Cobb operated the Eastwood Mall theatre from its opening in 1964 until it was torn down with the rest of its end of the mall.

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