Cinema Shoppers World

1 Worcester Road,
Framingham, MA 01701

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Entrance to the Cinema I & II in 1973

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1951, this was the first shopping center theater in the US. It was used for summer stock the first two seasons, then opened year round for movies. The original theater was added onto in 1963 becoming one of the first twin cinemas, then in 1974, another addition and a couple of splits, made this a sixplex before it was demolished in the 1990’s when Shoppers World was torn down.

Contributed by David Wodeyla

Recent comments (view all 66 comments)

dave-bronx™ on June 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Actually, I’m looking at the picture in the Harcourt book with a magnifying glass and it quite clearly says ‘Thick Cabinets’. It’s a different photo than the one in Boxoffice, it is a photo of the building with signs on the edge of the roof. Is that another term for Frappe? For instance, carbonated soft drinks, i.e. Pepsi, in the midwest is called ‘Pop’, in NYC it’s called ‘Soda’ and my relatives in Worcester MA called it ‘Tonic’. I thought this might be another regional term that goes by other names in other areas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 15, 2011 at 6:08 am

The October 4, 1952, Boxoffice article about the construction of the Cinema is now online here, at the magazine’s own web site.

In a comment near the top of this page, dwodeyla said that the walls of the Cinema were built of “…panels of a straw and clay mixture…” The Boxoffice article says that “…the exterior of the theatre is no more than a thin skin of asbestos board held in place by thin aluminum strips.” The clay-like substance was probably some form of gypsum, and would have been used to hold the asbestos fibres in place. I hope dwodeyla didn’t discover the fibrous nature of the material by scraping at it.

Theater designer Benjamin Schlanger would not be the one who chose to use the asbestos panels in this building. That would have been Ketchum, Gina & Sharp, the architectural firm that designed the structure itself.

dave-bronx™ on February 15, 2011 at 9:15 am

Mr. Schlanger’s role in a number of theatres in New York, DC and presumably this one was usually that of a consulting architect, advising the architect-of-record only on the technical aspects unique to a motion picture theatre. Specifically, things like acoustics, sight-lines, seating layout, floor and balcony pitch and arc, projection and audio equipment, electrical and space requirements for the projection booth were his expertise.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on February 15, 2011 at 9:51 am

Who knew about asbestos dangers back in the fifties? The Kent micronite filter had it! My description of the panels was based on what we could see when damage occurred, either a delivery truck backing into an area, or kids vandalism while leaving down the balcony exit ways.

da_Bunnyman on July 18, 2012 at 6:58 am

In “George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success” it’s m,entioned that this was the first mall cinema ever built and also that it has a claim to being the first multiplex. The claim against it is because it was not designed originally as a multiplex. This would mean it was the first split house but that’s not a thing it would want to be remembered for.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on July 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

The split of Cinema I didn’t happen until about 1974, so it probably wasn’t the first split house either. However, I’d suggest that the addition of Cinema II in 1963, could be called a new design with a changed configuration to the lobby as well as a completely new auditorium to the north side of the original building.

ErikH on December 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

The split of Cinema I occurred no earlier than 1976. I remember seeing “Jaws” in the non-subdivided Cinema I in the summer of 1975 and “Murder By Death” in the same auditorium in the summer of 1976. The auditoriums that were initially named Cinemas III and IV opened before Cinema I was twinned—-I think those auditoriums opened in mid-1974. I recall seeing “Godfather II” in the larger of those two auditoriums in late 1974—you would have thought that “Godfather II” would have been screened in the (much larger) Cinema I at at that time, but “Earthquake”(with its expensive Sensurround equipment) was still playing in Cinema I. In early 1975, I saw “Murder on the Orient Express” in Cinema II and “Earthquake” was still rumbling along in Cinema I.

Cinema II wasn’t subdivided until the early 1980s. The last film I saw in the non-subdivided Cinema II was “Annie” in the summer of 1982.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on December 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm

You have a good memory! I had photos of the addition of Cinema III and IV being constructed in 1974, but don’t remember exactly when the split of I occurred. I remember the Sensurround being constructed (large plywood panels in the corners of the large auditorium.)

rivest266 on April 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

October 4th, 1951 grand opening ad has been uploaded in the photo section for this theatre.

rivest266 on May 12, 2013 at 6:17 am

Also uploaded the ad for the twin on May 20th, 1964.

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