Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre

4302 Tacoma Mall Boulevard,
Tacoma, WA 98409

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Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

Tinseltoes on July 27, 2012 at 7:43 am

Described in this 1968 trade report: Boxoffice

chadshowbox on April 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm

The chandeliers have been in The Showbox in downtown Seattle since 2001.

markinthedark on March 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

Very nice. I wish there were photos out there of the auditoriums after the split. That would bring back memories.

markinthedark on March 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

Very nice. I wish there were photos out there of the auditoriums after the split. That would bring back memories.

ctrwd on March 15, 2011 at 9:53 am

For a full view of the original theatre interior, see

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Nice Twin Theatre,but it should have stayed with one screen.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Mark: I haven’t found any references to a third theater built on the model of the Lakewood and Tacoma projects, but if one was built it would probably have been built for one of the Forman companies; Forman United Theatres or Pacific Theatres. I’ll keep an eye out for evidence of such a project.

markinthedark on April 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Joe, do we know if there is a third theatre out there with this design?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 18, 2010 at 1:45 am

Since posting the comment immediately above I have done more searching in Boxoffice and have found that Ben Mayer, who the magazine said had designed the Tacoma Mall Theatre, was in fact an industrial and graphics designer, not an architect.

Therefore I think it’s safe to accept the Tacoma Library’s claim that the architect of the Tacoma Mall Theatre was George T. Nowak, of George T. Nowak & Associates, architect of the nearly identical Lakewood Center Theatre in Lakewood, California, which opened a few months earlier than the Tacoma Mall house. As the Lakewood Center was designed in association with Mel C. Glatz, his firm might have been involved in the Tacoma project as well.

I’ve found Ben Mayer credited with the design of a few other theater projects, but aside from the one drive-in at Tacoma these were all remodeling or decorating jobs.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 29, 2009 at 12:33 am

The May 27, 1968, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that the Tacoma Mall Theatre had opened on May 16. Among the celebrities attending the opening were Rudy Vallee, Tippi Hedren, and Troy Donahue. The article was accompanied by a small photo of the exterior of the theatre.

The similarity of the Tacoma Mall Theatre to the slightly earlier (and larger) Lakewood Center Theatre, and the fact that both were built by the Forman family, owners of both Forman United Theatres and Pacific Theatres (operating the Lakewood Center,) would lead one to expect that both houses had been designed by the same architect. Indeed, the Tacoma Library photos linked in comments above do attribute the Tacoma Mall to architect George T. Nowak, who was the architect of the Lakewood project. However, the Tacoma photo is the only source I can find saying that Nowak designed this theater.

The problem is that I’ve also found a source (but again only one) attributing the house to a different architect, that being a Boxoffice Magazine item of August 5, 1968, which mentions in passing that architect Ben Meyer, designer of United Theatres' new 112th Street Drive-In at Seattle had also designed the circuit’s new Tacoma Mall Theatre.

I think the Boxoffice item might be in error, but can’t be positive, and I don’t know the Tacoma Library’s source for the claim that Nowak designed the house. I suppose it is possible that the similarity of the two theaters stems from requests by the Formans that two different architects provide pretty much the same design for the different theaters (perhaps getting Mayer to do a less costly knockoff of Nowak’s design for Lakewood.) Maybe somebody can come up with a third source that will confirm one or the other of the sources I found.

kencmcintyre on April 18, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Here is a 1968 interior photo from the Tacoma Public Library:

minniethemoocher on March 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Wow, I remember going here as a little kid in the late ‘90s. Can’t remember what films I saw, but I know I really liked the place (especially the chandeliers). How rare that such a nice theatre was built in the '60s, of all decades. I’ll miss this place.

And plus, Lakewood’s House of Donuts > Krispy Kreme.


markinthedark on August 1, 2007 at 10:52 am

I still wish there were interior photos of the auditoriums of the Tacoma Mall Twin somewhere. Wish I had taken some way way back when I worked there one summer!

kateymac01 on August 1, 2007 at 10:47 am

Someone should add the Pacific Lakewood Center to this site.

And there are WAY better doughnuts to eat in Tacoma than the ones at Krispy Kreme!

markinthedark on August 1, 2007 at 9:37 am

Krispey Kreme cheapened its their brand and their mystique when thay started selling boxed doughnuts in grocerey stores. As much as I like their hot and fresh doughnuts direct from the store, the thrill has worn off. I certainly would refuse to patronize this particular Krispey Kreme on principle if I were in the Tacoma area.

KenLayton on August 1, 2007 at 9:34 am

The Krappy Kreme doughnuts is doing considerably less business than the theater ever did. The Mall was stupid to have ever demolished this wonderful theater.

KenLayton on August 1, 2007 at 8:48 am

The Krispy Kreme doughnuts store that replaced this theater is deserted nowadays.

markinthedark on August 1, 2007 at 7:26 am

I know some if those links expired, but yes if you do a search of “Tacoma Mall Theatre” on the Photo Archive on the Tacoma Public Libray website you will find the photos.

I myself hope to go to to the Lakewood someday and check out the large auditorium.

kateymac01 on August 1, 2007 at 12:10 am

OH MY GOSH!!! Mark, the old clip from the Lakewood, Calif., theater could just as well be the Tacoma Mall Theatre.

I was going through the Tacoma Public Library photos of the Tacoma Mall Theatre and comparing them to the Lakewood theater … It’s eerie.

I feel a pilgrimage to Lakewood coming on.

markinthedark on April 1, 2007 at 6:11 am

The Tacoma Public Library has some great pictures of the Tacoma Mall Theatre including the grand opening gala, lobby replete with the famous chandeliers, and auditorium (pre-split) with its deep curved screen:

Page 1:
View link

Page 2:
View link

Page 3:
View link

markinthedark on February 24, 2007 at 9:48 am

The Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre has a long lost cousin in Lakewood CA! In 1968 Pacific Theatres opened an identical theatre to the Tacoma Mall Theatre in Lakewood, California. And it still exists. Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but I think United Theatres, a Pacific Theatres company, built the Tacoma Mall theatre.

The same chandeliers that graced the Tacoma Mall Twin during its life STILL HANG at Pacific’s Lakewood Center 16! The 2 theatres have had rather different lives however. Where Tacoma Mall Theatre’s auditorium was twinned (one big, one medium sized) the Lakewood kept its large 1200 seat auditorium intact and added screens in 1974 and 1999 resulting in a 16-plex.

I have not been in the theatre, but peeked in the lobby windows before business hours and saw the chandeliers, the curved lobby, similar box office, everything that would make fans of the old Tacoma Mall Twin feel nostalgic. I hope to get down to see a film someday. Hopefully they have not altered the large auditorium too much so I can see what Tacoma’s was like before twinning.

Here is a link to a newspaper article that shows a model for the Lakewood (look familiar?):

Here is Cinematour’s photo and detailsof the Lakewood: (again, look familiar?):

I found other photos on some website, both old and new (including the inside of the large auditorium!), however, since they are not my property I shouldn’t post them. I will try to find the link again.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 14, 2007 at 1:29 pm

According to this 12/12/2002 article, the chandeliers were sold to the owners of the Showbox and Northgate Music Theater.

“The News Tribune

Dec. 12—Demolition continued Wednesday on the site of the Tacoma Mall Twin Theater, once a chandeliered jewel among South Sound movie houses.

Scuttlebutt circulating in the area names the location as the site of a Krispy Kreme doughnut house, although company officials did not confirm the rumor.

Opened in 1968, the theater had lately fallen victim to a world of multiplexes and megaplexes that could boast six, eight or up to 15 screens under one roof.

A set of four large chandeliers — which were custom made and imported from Belgium — were among the most memorable features at the theater. City officials discussed buying them for the Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, which is under construction downtown, but the fixtures were instead purchased by the owners of the Showbox and Northgate Music Theater concert venues in Seattle, according to Showbox booking agent Chad Queirolo.

Queirolo said he did not know if the chandeliers would be used at the Showbox or the Northgate site, which opened in the former Northgate Mall movie theater in October.

Co-owners Gloria Connors and Jeff Steichen could not be reached for clarification.

Each chandelier cost a reported $6,000 around the time the Tacoma Mall movie house opened, and each contained 3,250 glass pendants. Up to six people were assigned the task of their annual cleaning. The chandeliers were slowly lowered to floor level via a motorized chain hoist and employees would clean each individual pendant.

Cleaning all the glass could take up to four days.

While some people familiar with negotiations to locate a Krispy Kreme franchise in Tacoma have named the Tacoma Mall site, the holder of the company’s Washington rights remained noncommittal.

“I’m not going to say we’re not going to make a deal there,” said Gerard Centioli, president and CEO of the partnership that will bring 10 more Krispy Kreme stores to Washington.

Two properties — one in Tacoma and the other in Puyallup — remain under letters of agreement, he said.

“We’re not far away from both leases and building permits,” Centioli said.

The Puyallup site is near South Hill Mall, according to a Puyallup city official. Centioli’s company, he said, has filed for site plan approval and has initiated an environmental checklist.

Centioli estimated he would break ground within a week of signing a lease, and that the two Pierce County locations could be producing doughnuts as early as the spring.

By C.R. Roberts and Ernest A. Jasmin".

kateymac01 on May 16, 2005 at 11:51 am

Does anyone know what happened to the chandeliers that hung in the lobby? They were spectacular.

markinthedark on May 5, 2005 at 9:37 am

I worked at the Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre when home from college for the summer of 1989. I grew up in Tacoma and in it’s day, this was THE place to see a big blockbuster movie. For the summer of ‘89 the theatre booked “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in 70MM on Screen 1 with a 35MM print playing simultaniously on Screen 2 for a few weeks. Screen 2 filled out the rest of the summer with “Do The Right Thing” playing sold-out shows followed by “When Harry Met Sally”. The 70MM print of Indy was moved to the Tacoma South Cinemas and was replaced by “Parenthood”. Other notable engagements in 70MM: “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “2010”, “Clan of the Cave Bear”, “Young Sherlock Holmes”, “Top Gun”, and “Aliens”. Don’t ask me how I retained all this! QUESTION: DOES ANYONE OUT THERE HAVE PICTURES OF THE AUDITORIUMS? I would love to see them again…