Showcase 1 & 2

2825 Valley View Lane,
Farmers Branch, TX 75234

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The Showcase 1 & 2 twin cinema opened April 5, 1974. It began as a first-rum movie theatre, then became a Dollar house, followed by art house cinema, and ending its days as an adult movie theatre, closing in 1988. It then became a non-profit church.

Contributed by Ken Roe

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dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on January 29, 2015 at 1:16 pm

When Texas Automated Theaters was looking to establish low-cost automated theaters, many would be located adjacent to – or inside of – hotels or other high traffic areas and run with minimal personnel. But as was the case in Garland – with the Walnut Twin – the theaters were tucked behind other buildings and were low risk investments to utilize challenging retail spaces. For the Farmers Branch Showcase I & II in Farmers Branch, suite 400 at 2825 Valley View Lane was out of view from the road thanks to a strip shopping center that blocked the standalone twin-screen theater built in 1974. The attraction board on the street was the only hope for most patrons driving past to see the theater’s offerings. Another attraction board was featured in front of the theater, itself. The features on the boards for Friday, April 4, 1974 were its grand opening films of “The Way We Were” and “Billy Jack.” Thanks to the installed equipment, the theater had five to six showings each day of its feature films.

Showcase tried to eke out its existence playing first-run fare and then tried lower cost sub-runs but the audiences just didn’t come. The operators sold out in early 1980 prior to their sixth anniversary. Circuit owner Theaters West of Houston took on the struggling twin-screener and tried something totally different beginning April 26, 1980 switching to full time art house. The theater’s name was changed from the Farmers Branch Showcase I & II to the Showcase Cinema 1 & 2. The art house policy brought with it free publicity from the local Dallas Morning News whenever a significant art film opened.The first films were foreign language films “Till Marriage Do Us Part” and “Robert et Robert.” However, the audiences weren’t enough to keep the theater viable. This problem worsened when AMC renamed its Preston Center 2 as the Park Cities 2 playing art films

Exactly one year into its Showcase art run, Theaters West purchased Dallas' venerable Inwood Theater which had been closed for months due to a fire and converted a new upstairs theater to show art films hoping to find a boutique clientele in Dallas. It worked. So in June of 1981, Theaters West reversed course in Farmers Branch shelving art and turning Showcase Screen Two into a mainstream sub-run dollar house but adding an X-rated adult film to Showcase Screen One. The theater’s performance issues were behind it as the adult fare did brisk business.

Unfortunately for Theaters West, they were in court often as the city of Farmers Branch did anything and everything to close the theater down including citing the theaters 14 times and confiscating films. The $200 a day fines could add up quickly but Theaters West counter-sued citing harassment and seeking an injunction against the city in 1982. The city kept trying to close the theater saying it was “pollution of our minds and our youth.” As the city’s federal suit and theater’s counter-suit were still on the table all the way to 1988, Theaters West and the city of Farmers Branch finally said each side would drop their suits if the theater took all signage down for its attractions. Rather than changing the type of films back to unsuccessful sub-runs, first runs or art runs or possibly something new, the theater threw in the towel ending a litigious final seven years and 14 altogether for the Farmers Branch Showcase / Showcase Cinema 1 & 2.

The theater has been home to many non-profit houses of worship over the years. The 2015-era owner took down the attraction board in front of the cinema which still has its original box office, movie poster boxes, doors to cinemas one and two and interior attraction boards. But the fortunes for the hidden retail spot are rather subpar as the Dallas County Appraisal District lists the former showcase theater’s valuation at just $5,220. But the theater looks pretty similar to the way it did back in the day and audiences still come once or twice a week so that’s not too bad for the 40-plus year old facility.

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