Alpine Four Theatre
3219 Alpine Avenue Northwest,
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In 1970, John D. Loeks along with nine other stockholders, formed a new theater circuit called Auto-Cine, Inc. with the intention of building small, automated twin theaters throughout western Michigan. The Alpine Theatre, which opened on Sepetember 23, 1970 was the second theater in this new circuit.
The major premise in the twin theaters was to operate two auditoriums while using a common box office, concessions and rest room facilities and a minimum of personnel. A manager also handled the threading and starting of the films and the box office cashier doubled as a concession clerk. Projectors were outfitted to use larger reels, accommodating up to one hour each, instead of the usual 15 to 20 minutes.
In an article in the Grand Rapids Press, Loeks says, “What it amounts to is that we can set up two projectors, get the show started and have the whole operation complete itself without any manual assistance. We’ve moved from the old hand-crank projector to almost complete automation. Even some of theater advances still had the projectionist installing four to six reels for a feature film. Now only two are needed.”
The article continues to explain, “The first projector even turns itself off and activates the second projector through a magnatic strip attached to the film. The only real problem is when a film tears or splits, which calls for immediate splicing, but modern movie film is such that it rarely occurs.”
The theater closed in 2001, and was later demolished in 2003.
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