Alpine Four Theatre

3219 Alpine Avenue Northwest,
Grand Rapids, MI 49544

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Alpine Four Theatre

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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.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Greattastic
Greattastic on May 17, 2005 at 4:10 am

This is sad to hear, I only went to the theatre once (me being a resident of southeast MI), to see Star Wars:Episode I, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. The theatre was fantastic, and an artifact from a time long past, when Michigan was a fantastic place to live.

shany94
shany94 on June 28, 2007 at 7:05 am

The only film I ever saw here was “Titanic” – I remember thinking it was a small but nice theater, even though I marveled at how many seats there were in just the one auditorium. I’m sorry to hear it no longer exists – what stands there now?

BelteshazzarMouse
BelteshazzarMouse on February 1, 2009 at 4:59 pm

This used to be the Alpine Twin, until Loek’s theaters moved in across the street and against Jack’s wishes. (I really miss Jack Loeks running the theaters. He was a great guy.)

When it became the Alpine Four, I remember that the idea was to show older and special run movies. Unfortunately, it could not compete witht the big theater across the street.

This is the theater we “graduated” to when we were old enough to be trusted outside the drive-in. I saw a lot of movies in this great theater.

AmyZ
AmyZ on February 17, 2009 at 1:28 am

Man, I can remember seeing so many movies here as a kid. It was only a dollar for the longest time, but did increase to two at the end. My mom would take us, and we would get candy at the K-Mart next door and sneak it in…

@Shanahan-it’s nothing now. There’s a big box strip mall there now. Remember the restaurant next door? (The Clock) That had a great old 50’s sign in front, and it, too is gone.

shany94
shany94 on March 13, 2009 at 1:16 am

Thanks, Amy. I think I read that the KMart on that side of Alpine is now history, too

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2009 at 10:04 am

A page of Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 25, 1971, was devoted to the Alpine Twin Theatre (its original name.) There were a few pictures of the theater. The twin auditoriums each had 325 seats in a continental arrangement. The side walls were curtained, and the back walls were faced with acoustic tile. The project was designed by Mel Glatz Associates.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on February 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

A manager started the movies and a concession stand girl handled the Box office and serving popcorn,and this a “classy” theatre.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on February 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I know how the description sounds, but believe it or not, it was a high quality experience at the beginning. Jack Loeks might have always had one eye on the bottom line, but his theaters were, at least most of the time I went to them in Michigan, well-run and clean theaters with good projection and sound. After he sold out to Loew’s-Cineplex (which soon after merged with AMC), many of Loek’s former theaters declined considerably.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on February 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm

thanks Cwalczak,Sure sounded like a rag tag operation.

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