General Cinema Town East 6

1344 N. Town East Boulevard,
Mesquite, TX 75150

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 4 comments

markp on March 24, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Very interesting and sad history of the once great GCC.

dallasmovietheaters on March 24, 2015 at 10:17 am

The General Cinema Corporation (GCC) Town East 6 was a theater opening in May of 1985 just yards from its GCC Town East 5 outside of Town East Mall. The theater’s development was occurring at the time when Mesquite became one of the fast-growing communities in the state. The theater would close in August 1998 when AMC changed film-going in Mesquite forever. In the Mesquite zone of DFW film exhibition, however, the top dog for more than three decades was General Cinema.

GCC’s first foray into Dallas was when it was still called General Drive-In opening Big Town Cinema in February of 1964 adjoining the five-year old Big Town Mall, Dallas’ first enclosed shopping center. Ten years later, it was operating just outside of Mesquite’s second mall, the Town East Mall opening June 28, 1974. GCC’s Big Town theater went to discount status. Traffic was packed around the Town East area and retail complexes popped up overnight. There was a need for more than just two first-run auditoria. United Artists (UA) was the first circuit to challenge GCC with its Town East 6 opening on June 4, 1982 in the nearby Driftwood Shopping Center.

Now battling for clearances, UA won big summer clearances getting “Star Trek II”, “E.T.” and “Blade Runner” for its opening month. The GCC Town East I & II would close briefly to re-open on December 17, 1982 transitioning from a two-screen to a five-screen operation. But at a pad across the highway from Town East was the Towne Crossing Center that would deliver the AMC Towne Crossing 8. GCC didn’t take kindly to a third circuit coming into its flagship zone.

In 1983, the Outlet Mall at Town East was announced by John Shotsman and in 1984, GCC would make its tactical moves to secure the zone. In 1984, Town East V was closed again and totally gutted becoming a prototype for many almost identical theaters which General Cinema would create or retrofit and re-re-opening December 7, 1984. And to mark its territory much like the game of Risk, just yards away it was constructing another six-screen theater launching May 24, 1985. That theater was an outparcel building to the Outlet Mall at Town East called the GCC Town East 6 with the exterior architected by Milton Powell & Associates which actually launched three months ahead of the AMC eight-screen Towne Crossing. It also shared its grand opening date with the North Hills 7 inside that mall in North Richland Hills.

Now with two Town East 6’s, one Town East 5 and the AMC 8 in Mesquite, confusion for consumers was palpable as the theaters were close in both name and proximity. But business was brisk with business from Rockwall, east Dallas, Garland, Rowlett, Forney and even Terrell. Mesquite was a true cinema lovers destination. For the Town East 6, “Home Alone” (1990) would become a massive money maker and was interlocked on three of the six screens. A rarity for the six-plex. And GCC had weathered the competition in the short term with its concept of plopping down a multiplex and then another multiplex nearby if needed as it had at the Redbird Mall in South Dallas, or its Northpark I/II & III/IV in the Central Zone in Dallas. But that would all change.

As a harbinger of bad karma, the Outlet Mall of Town East tried a name change and went out of business within four years. After a planned 110-lane bowling alley didn’t occur in that space, the building was repurposed to a strip shopping center, Home Depot, etc. This didn’t destroy the GCC Town East 6 but the lack of foot traffic for years at that space plus the construction didn’t help either. Worse yet for the Town East 6 was that the Garland area would get two megaplexes to the North (Cinemark in 1992 and UA in 1996). Then AMC delivered the knockout blow with its 30-screen megaplex AMC Mesquite just two exits to the south in 1998. That would end the AMC Towne Crossing. Starplex Cinemas would add a 10-screen discount house in Mesquite and a 12-screen theater in Forney. Megaplexes also came to Rockwall and Terrell got a multiplex. The Town East multiplexes were toast but how long would they last?

General Cinema closed the Town East Six as classes went back into session in 1998 ending the theater’s life though outliving the life of its neighboring outlet mall by more than ten years. The theater would eventually be gutted and transformed into a retail space where it and the former Towne Crossing 8 both hosted waterbed stores at some point in their lives. And almost as suddenly the Town East Five left prior to Christmas of 1998. The Big Town Cinema out-survived both of GCC’s Town East properties closing as a Cinemark discount cinema in January of 1999. For General Cinema, it was the beginning of the end as the circuit would collapse under the weight of a faded multiplex business concept in a megaplex world.

Star Cinemas would re-re-re-open the original GCC Town East in December of 2001 closing in June of 2002 to hop across to the former AMC Towne Crossing operating quietly as the Lone Star Cinema briefly. The Town East V would be quietly excised from the shopping center while the other three multiplexes lived on as retail stores. But the GCC Town East 6 represented the circuit’s last stand and how Town East and Mesquite became DFW’s third most attended zone in the DFW area in the 1980s.

Driveintheatre2001 on January 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I believe this one also needs to be added to the “Mesquite section” of this website. It was left off.. Thanx ! RAC Photography

Driveintheatre2001 on January 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm

2 Photos of the General Cinema Town East 6. Taken about 10 years apart..

Randy A Carlisle – Historical Photographer