Tampa Bay Mall Cinema I & II
West Buffalo (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) at Himes Avenue,
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General Cinema opened Tampa Bay Mall Cinema I & II and Eastlake Square Cinema I II & III on the same day, August 6, 1976. The opening attractions for Tampa Bay Mall were "Harry & Walter Go To New York" and "Swashbuckler."
The twin cinemas were located on the main level of the two-story mall on the southwest side near Sears. These cinemas were long and narrow shoebox theatres with a seating capacity of about 350 each. The box office sat against the right wall inside the entrance with steps just beyond leading up into the lobby. The lobby was narrow and somewhat small with the concessions stand on the right as you entered. Just beyond the concessions and also on the right was the entrance to the cinemas.
This was GCC’s typical design for their theatres during this period. Blue walls, red carpeting, white lettering that spelled out "General Cinema" on the wall behind the concession stand, white pushback seats with red cushions, light-gray walls in the auditoriums and bare screens washed with blue lighting.
The cinemas were always clean, well-maintained, and well-managed just as it was with other
local GCC theatres.
Cinema II received a Dolby installation around 1983. The first film I remember seeing here in Dolby was "Risky Business." Tampa Bay Mall was one of two venues in town to book "Star Wars" in 1977. The huge hit played here for months and months. Other big attractions were: "King Kong" "Tootsie" "Diner" "Barry Lyndon" "The Thing" "The Fly" "Beaches" "Cocoon" "Gremlins"
"Burnt Offerings" re-releases of "The Sound of Music" "Rear Window" and "Jaws."
Although a very popular mall destination for years, the mall began declining towards the mid-1980s with anchor tenants not renewing leases and relocating to newer malls leading to Tampa Bay Mall’s demise.
The cinemas closed on February 28, 1990 with the final features "Roger and Me" and "Stella." The mall remained open for several years and finally closed in 2002 and was demolished three years later in 2005. The Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s new headquarters and training facility now sits on a portion of the former mall site with the remainder of the land being used for parking.
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