Ridge Plaza I-II

5900 W. Ridge Road,
Gary, IN 46408

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The twin screen Ridge Plaza I-II was opened by General Cinema in 1972. It’s premiere attractions were “The Last Picture Show” and “Pocket Money”. It was the first non-single screen theater in Northwest Indiana and unlike General Cinemas follow up twins the Crossroads and Dunes, the Ridge had one auditorium clearly larger then the other. The theater also had table tops on the aisle seats of the back few rows for smokers to place ashtrays on.

The Ridge was the flagship theater in the area showing all the major films. I can remember seeing such hits as “Towering Inferno”, “Earthquake”, “Tommy”, “Bad News Bears”, “King Kong”, and “Silver Streak” there. Even after the four screen Southlake Cinema opened in 1978 the Ridge still got its fair share of good films. “ET” ran there for almost six months.

With the onset of the multiplexes, all the twin screen General Cinemas began to lose money. In 1994, after a strong windstorm, the marquee was damaged. General Cinema decided that the cost of replacing it would be too high and had it taken down for good. The theater was finally closed in 1998 but was reopened almost immediately by an independent owner.

The theater was closed again in December 2004, and razed in February 2005.

Contributed by John

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

JohnSanchez
JohnSanchez on December 7, 2004 at 1:52 pm

I drove by the theater last week and it is now closed.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 7, 2004 at 2:56 pm

Regarding the table-tops mentioned in the description above – In those days when General Cinema was using the Griggs pushback chairs, they used 4 or 5 different width seats, and the little ‘tables’ were actually spacers – in a space not wide enough for a seat but too wide to leave it empty. That way, all the aisle-ends were the same distance from the aisle carpet, even though the rows of seats were offset from one row to the next so you wouldn’t have the head of the person in front of you blocking your view. When Griggs went out of business and GCC switched to other seat manufacturers, the spacers were eliminated.

mhking
mhking on January 24, 2005 at 10:02 am

I worked at Ridge Plaza after my senior year in 1980. The theater ran “Empire Strikes Back” most of that summer, and the other big draw for Ridge Plaza (at least in those days) were the Friday night “Rocky Horror” showings at midnight.

MarkAllen
MarkAllen on February 15, 2005 at 5:48 pm

The theater has now been torn down. All that is left is the walls that used to be the theaters. I worked there as an usher and a janitor. I loved working there. I will miss that place. I quit going there once General Cinema sold it. It just wasn’t the same. R.I.P. Ridge Plaza cinema.

JohnSanchez
JohnSanchez on February 17, 2005 at 1:40 pm

I drove by there last night and the theater is now completely demolished. Kind of sad but not unexpected. The Ridge Plaza was designed slightly different from any other twin General Cinema I ever saw (including the other two in NW Indiana – Crossroads and Dunes)probably because it was the first. Besides the above mentioned tabletops in Cinema 1 and the size of the two auditoriums there was the entrance to Cinema 2. To get to the auditorium on the left side (Cinema 2) instead of just entering a door on either side you would first have to walk down a small hallway. On the left was an exit door and poster case and, I think, a door to the projectionist booth. On the right were bathrooms which was very odd as all the other theaters had just one set of bathrooms. Also, the screens were different. At all the other GCC’s the screen lay flat against the wall. At the Ridge the screen was actually inside the wall with all four sides of the wall angeling in towards the screens.

Sitting there looking at the ruins I got to thinking that this was the theater where my love for movies was born. So many movies I saw there (some great and some not so great) including “The Godfather”, “The Poseidon Adventure”, “The Three Musketeers”, “Three Days of the Condor”, “Hustle”, “Mother, Jugs and Speed”, “Young Frankenstein”, “Shampoo”, “The Shootist”, “Marathon Man”, “Jaws 2”, “Grease”, “Foul Play”, “Animal House”, “Death on the Nile”, “Kramer vs kramer” and the list goes on and on.

The theater probably won’t be missed by most but will forever have a spot in my heart. Thank you Ridge Plaza.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 14, 2010 at 6:04 pm

What sad stories about a wonderful Twin.Wouldn’t be nice if that was all we had Single screens and Twins,Not everyone playing day and date.Actual theatre chains that encouraged promotions.Glad I worked in those days.No way would i want to manage one of those 20 plex monsters,I won’t even go in to one.

markp
markp on September 16, 2010 at 8:59 am

MikeRogers, I couldn’t agree with you more. As the last union projectionist left working here in Jersey, I loved those days of the old huge singles and twins, when movies still sold out 6 to 8 weeks after opening. I work in a 10-plex today and after 1 week the movies are dead. Its been a long 35 year run for me, and I must say, the old days were the best.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Thanks movie534 you made my life ALOT easier as A Manager never having to worry about the Booth.

bbfarmer
bbfarmer on February 4, 2013 at 12:53 am

My high school was directly across the street. Saw too many movies to count at the Ridge Plaza. Sad to see it gone.

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