Niantic Cinemas

279 Main Street,
Niantic, CT 06357

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rokcomx
rokcomx on December 14, 2014 at 3:22 am

The Niantic Theater was closed in March 1980 for renovations, reopening in May as the three-screen Niantic Cinema 1-2-3. Owner George P. Mitchell (who purchased the theater in 1979) told the New London Day (4-25-80) that the old theater seated about 630 people, while the three-screen version seated 200 people in each downstairs theater and 150 more in the balcony that had been turned into an upstairs screen (with rocking chairs). The projection booth was automated at the same time, and a new box office gate was installed with an automatic ticket machine.

The theaters ran mostly second run and foreign film thru late 1982. They added a 280 seat fourth screen in early 1983, by taking the adjoining building (which formerly housed Larson’s Carpet, the Niantic Package Store, and a bowling alley) and “jacking up the roof about 20 feet and redoing the building,” according to the New London Day (3-6-83).

dickdziadzio
dickdziadzio on June 4, 2012 at 6:46 am

The theatre was first split by ceiling off the balcony for one house, then splitting the downstairs down the middle to create the 3 theatres that exist today in the original building. The 4th and 5th theatres are cinder block structures built on both sides of the original theatre. This is a nice operation in a good location.

rokcomx
rokcomx on June 4, 2012 at 3:03 am

I can confirm that theater seen in Boxoffice circa 1950 is indeed the same theater that was later split up and expanded for the Niantic Cinemas. There is no other Niantic moviehouse, unless you count the nearby Cameo Theatre, which only operated from 1972 to 1985. The much smaller Cameo (a porn house for all but its first two years) was just behind the Niantic Theatre, across Hope Street and occupying the far end of a strip mall.

If the Markoffs opened a third as-yet unidentified house in Niantic in late 1945, it was long gone by the 1970s. I’ve yet to find ads for a third house, but I’ll keep an eye peeled. Perhaps the Markoffs STARTED work on a theater in late ‘45, but that house later (1950) became this place, run by the Dubreulls?

The 1950 Boxoffice article mentions this theater’s owners also started a local newspaper shortly before the Niantic Theatre opened, which corresponds with the 9-27-77 article mentioning the Dubreulls running both the theater (since the early ‘50s) and the town paper, the Niantic News. So this was the Dubreull’s operation since before the day it opened, not the Markoffs’.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Here is a fresh link to the November 4, 1950, Boxoffice item about the recently-opened Niantic Theatre.

rokcomx
rokcomx on June 3, 2012 at 4:54 am

According to a New London Day article dated September 27, 1977, the Niantic Theater (later renamed Niantic Cinemas) was owned from around 1952 until at least 1977 by Alphonse and May Dubreull of Wild Rose Place, in nearby Waterford, who also published the Niantic News newspaper. The article was about the Dubreull’s attempting to sell the place.

50sadchairs
50sadchairs on June 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I remember going to see House of Wax with Vincent Price in the 1980’s. I remember the screen was beaded which was much better for its 3D effect. I know that the beaded screen was eventually removed during subsequent renovations. It still is a great theater as it is family run and they don’t gouge you on the concession prices.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on December 4, 2009 at 3:41 am

So it was originally one screen then I guess.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 4, 2009 at 1:27 am

A brief article with three small photos of the Niantic appeared in Boxoffice of November 4, 1950. The article said the house had opened recently with 660 seats.

PDIT
PDIT on September 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm

ken mc -
found your post citing Joseph and Ted Markoff while searching for history on the Portland Drive-In Theater (CT.
My mother and I both worked for the Markoffs some 40 years apart
at East Hampton CT and Portland Drive In, CT respectively.

I am working on a project for the Boy Scouts commemorating this local landmark before it’s long forgotten – portions of the Marqee sign and refreshment stand still remain…

Do you have any other info about them or the Poprtland Location?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 27, 2009 at 8:44 pm

There is a February 1950 item in Boxoffice concerning the construction and opening of the 800 seat Niantic Theatre. It was scheduled to open in February 1950, which more closely corresponds with the 1951 opening date given in the introduction. Niantic Theatre should be an aka for Niantic Cinemas.

It looks like the Markoffs opened an as-yet unidentified house in Niantic in late 1945, according to another BO item in November of that year. I will add the Markoff house once I found out what they called it.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 27, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Here is an item in Boxoffice in October 1945. I’m not sure if there was a six year delay in opening the theater, or if this article alternatively is referring to a different house.

NIANTIC, CONN.-Plans are being drawn for a 550-seat theatre to be operated here by Joseph and Ted Markoff, operators of the Strand, Willimantic, Stuart, Lakeville, Colchester, Moodus and East Hampton theatres. Architects Curran & McGuire, New London, said construction was scheduled to start immediately.

SpikeSpiegel6262044
SpikeSpiegel6262044 on January 31, 2006 at 4:33 pm

Nice looking theatre from the outside, I love it’s mural. Hey, there’s also a coffee shop next to it. Those coffee shops sure do love movie palaces.