Caruth Plaza Cinema

9100 N. Central Expressway,
Dallas, TX 75225

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Located in the Caruth Plaza Fashion Centre. The Plitt Theatre was opened by the Plitt Theatres chain December 14, 1979 with “The Jerk” and “1941”. In May 1984 it was sold to the General Cinemas circuit, and was renamed Caruth Twin,

On October 12, 1984 GCC had twinned the smaller one of the two auditoriums and the now triple screen cinema was renamed Caruth Plaza Cinema.

Facing competition from new multiplexes opening in 1988 and 1989, the Caruth Plaza Cinema eventually closed January 12, 1992. Some of its equipment was moved across to the nearby General Cinema Northpark III & IV.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on March 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

The Caruth Plaza Cinema was an underperforming twin-screen theater which opened as the Plitt Cinema in 1979 across the street from the General Cinema Company’s (GCC) Northpark III & IV. It was acquired by GCC in 1984 from Plitt and converted to a triplex and ultimately closed early in 1992 under pressure from superior theaters just yards away.

For decades, Dallas film exhibition was controlled by the Interstate Circuit. In the single-screen era, Interstate had the best movie palaces and it generally picked suburban locations well. But a new breed of twin-screens and then multiplexes doomed the Interstate business model and Plitt Theatres Inc. purchased the last of the ABC-Interstate theaters in March of 1978. Its first decision was to not renew the lease for the Wilshire Theater it had just acquired leaving it with only the single-screen Medallion within Dallas’ most lucrative theater area known as the “Central Zone.” But Plitt would rectify that moving into the newly-created and nearly 200,000 square foot Caruth Fashion Center. Plitt was moving into hostile territory, however, with General Cinema’s wildly-successful Northpark I & II just a quarter of a mile away within eyeball range and the Northpark III & IV directly across the street. These two theaters were said to be the most lucrative in the entire state of Texas.

Billed by Plitt as the “finest theatre complex in the Southwest,” the Plitt Cinema could have been a game-changer. But Plitt claimed just 15,558 square feet of the 197,050 square foot Caruth Plaza and carved out a benign twin-screen theater. Had Plitt been bolder and created a multiplex at that time, their entire fortunes might have been different. But the twin was created with Plitt Cinema’s Auditorium One having 700 seats and 70mm capability. Auditorium Two had around 500 seats. And upon opening, their “finest theatre” claim was quite unjustified. The Plitt could boast of being the best cinema on its side of the street – being the only one on its side of the street — but even that would change within ten years. The twin-screener was an underachiever for Plitt. But it was the only theater at Park Lane and U.S. 75 to have an attraction sign (Alfred Nasher wouldn’t allow gaudy signage at either his Northpark East or West turf) so it was arguable that this was the most visible and the easiest to find of the three theaters.

Grand opening for the Plitt Cinema was on December 14, 1979 with “The Jerk” and “1941.” The Spielberg “1941” film was a coup for Plitt as the theater served as a means to get clearances away from the GCC competition across the street. But “1941” wasn’t quite the stellar success and was a portent of things to come for Plitt. The theater did have its moments. It had the sneak peak of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1981 and then had the southwest exclusive 70mm run of that film showing in Dolby stereo before anyone else with that format. And it had a 70mm success with the repertory “Sound of Music” screening. But having the theater in existence partly to block clearances from the competition just didn’t work out for anyone and within five years of its opening, Plitt sold the location to its rival GCC in May of 1984.

The Plitt was briefly renamed as the Caruth Twin operating for several months. GCC would close off theater two for remodeling as kids went back to school in 1984. On October 26th of 1984, GCC re-opened the now-twinned and smaller 500-seat auditorium. Converted into two, 225-seat auditoriums in the triplex, GCC had made movie-going at the Caruth Plaza even worse. During the remodel, the theater was renamed the General Cinema Caruth Plaza Cinema, its final name. And the original theater remained with minor changes later leading to 650 seats but still with 70mm projection.

It appeared that GCC had weathered the clearance battle well as it monopolized all the theaters situated near three of Park Lane & U.S. 75’s heavily trafficked four corners. But AMC and United Artists weren’t enamored of GCC having all of the money in the lucrative Northpark area. Caruth had developed the Glen Lakes area just one hotel removed from his Caruth Fashion Plaza about a quarter of a mile away. AMC would secure a spot for its eight-plex AMC Northpark (changed later to the AMC Glen Lakes) theater opening there in 1988. If that wasn’t bad enough for the GCC Caruth Plaza, the final nail in the coffin came when construction equipment was making noise you could hear inside of the GCC Caruth Plaza. That equipment was creating UA’s super-destination theater ultimately called the UA Plaza which was directly behind and shadowing over the cowering GCC Caruth Plaza. The UA Plaza opened in May 1989. It’s unclear why the GCC Caruth Plaza remained in operation with this far superior multiplex a bowling ball’s throw away other than stubbornness by GCC trying to get to the end of its lease.

The Caruth Plaza Cinema would finally get its mercy killing limping to a very quiet ending on January 12, 1992. It was unable to make it to the end of its lease period. The 70mm projector from Auditorium One and some other equipment would make the short trip across the street providing house four of the GCC Northpark III & IV with 70mm projection. That may have been the lasting value of the largely-forgotten Caruth Plaza Cinema.

Coate
Coate on March 28, 2015 at 10:52 am

dallasmovietheaters… What start date do you have for this theater’s 70mm engagement of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? I ask because most of the 70mm prints of that title were late from the lab and the theaters that played a 70 did so after opening their booking with a 35mm print or by way of a later-in-run moveover booking. Houston, by the way, ran “Raiders” in 70mm (too) first-run at the Windsor, so Dallas didn’t have a Southwest exclusive of the 70mm version.

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