Parmatown Mall Cinemas

8141 West Ridgewood Drive,
Parma, OH 44129

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Showing 1 - 25 of 41 comments

optimist008
optimist008 on May 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

dave-bronx,

Good, amusing posting above !!!

FYI: Google Ron Lesser vs. General Cinema to see the lawsuit mentioned in my post above and join the Facebook General Cinema Memories group.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on May 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Yes, bidding for the films, that’s how they did it [wink, wink]. Cleveland was, in the 60s and 70s anyway, a different animal. In those days there was one guy (we’ll call him Mr. X) in town who ran a booking agency. He also ran an advertising agency and also had a local chain of theatres. He booked the films in all the theatres in town, General Cinema and Loews included, whose own booking departments booked all their other theatres in the US. His advertising agency handled all the co-op ad campaigns, except the rare instance of an exclusive at any one or two of GCC screens, then Parmatown’s manager handled the campaign. Also, as stated below, in the Cleveland market General Cinema got all the Warner, Disney and Universal pictures, Loews played all the Paramount, Columbia and MGM/UA films, but the theatres owned by Mr. X got some of all of them. He ran the whole show, as it were. Back then, if you wanted to play ball in Cleveland you played it his way or you didn’t play. Oh, I almost forgot, Mr. X was also the landlord to most of the distributors Cleveland branch offices.

optimist008
optimist008 on May 24, 2017 at 8:51 am

dave-bronx, Can only guess that either GCC outbidded the others for Star Wars or they were in collusion with Fox that previously gave them the Westchester County, NY exclusive run of “The Towering Inferno” at Central Plaza, Yonkers, NY resulting in court case brought by Lesser Cinemas who wanted to run it at their Beach Cinema in Peekskill, NY. Google and that lawsuit is online.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on May 24, 2017 at 3:45 am

In 1977 Star Wars played at Mentor, Parmatown and Randall Cinemas, along with the Fairview, Severance and Avon Lake. That was unusual that a first run Fox picture would play in Cleveland GCC’s – back then we were on the Warner/Disney/Universal track. Loews was Paramount/Columbia, I don’t remember where Fox usually played in Cleveland. Now and then we’d get a sub-run Fox, Paramount or Columbia picture if a regular booking was doing so bad it had to be pulled, and needed to throw in something on short notice.

Years later when I was working for Loews in New York I found out that Loews and Fox had a major disagreement dating back decades, I suspect the reason was long forgotten. Until they resolved their differences in the mid-2000s you would never see a Fox picture, first-run or otherwise, in any Loews theatre.

TomMc11
TomMc11 on May 23, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Saw the original Star Wars here twice back in 1977 in the original Cinema II. After they hacked it into 3 parts it was a strange setup. The two new screens took up the back left and back right of the original cinema. You had to walk down a long hallway to get to the front part of the original screen. The screen was HUGE, but the theater looked weird because it was exceptionally wide, but only about 20 rows deep.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on March 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention the shopping center has been re-named The Shoppes at Parma – you may think I’m kidding but I’m not, that’s really the new name.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on March 25, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Well, not only is the Cinema gone, but the desperately needed sporting goods store that replaced it is gone too, along the indoor mall and the May/Kaufmann/Macy building. The local entities that have owned it since the earth cooled let it go into receivership and then it was sold. The new ownership is redeveloping it into what it was originally – a regular outdoor shopping plaza.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on February 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

For those associated with the Cinema from way back in the early years: Mr. Ray Stibich, evening manager for many years, has passed away in Florida. Services in Ohio. Obit in the PD 2/23&24/2012 for further info.

rivest266
rivest266 on March 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

November 15th, 1967 ad for this and the Shoregate Cinema is at View link

hotspace1
hotspace1 on November 4, 2009 at 2:37 pm

The south part of the mall where Penney’s main entrance is, is like a ghost town. There are very few stores there left in that section. Some that are left are moving to the main part of the mall.

RKwitkowski
RKwitkowski on January 14, 2007 at 10:09 am

As far as I know, RMS still owns the mall, which is one of the reasons why it still isn’t doing well. I haven’t stepped into that mall in over a half a year, but according to the online mall directory, they haven’t had any success in bringing stores to the west wing, even with DICKS and Wal-Mart.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 13, 2007 at 3:51 am

Does Forest City/RMS still own the Parmatown Mall? It is not listed in the FCE website portfolio of properties. If not, who did they sell it to? Also, have leased out the empty stores now that they have Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods in that western end of the mall?

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on April 28, 2006 at 12:30 am

If you could send it to me too, I’d appreciate it – – I have it packed away somewhere back in Ohio but I haven’t seen it in 20 years – as I recall it was a full-page with a lot of red ink, and used the script “Cinema I & II” for the sigs.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on April 27, 2006 at 7:43 pm

I’d love to see those ads. My email is

moviefan03
moviefan03 on April 27, 2006 at 7:11 pm

I am a student at Kent State. I used the newspaper archives and scanned the ad in the November 15, 1967 Plain Dealer advertising the opening of this theater, as well as Shoregate that opened that same day. Anyone interested in seeing this ad, let me know. I’ll send it via e-mail!

anomie666
anomie666 on January 30, 2006 at 7:19 pm

I’ve been living in Boston now for nearly 10 years and I’m sad to hear this place has died. I have many memories of taking the bus to the mall and seeing movies on a Saturday while I was in high school.

I remember it being a typical mall theater, nothing very fancy, but it was home!

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 9, 2006 at 5:10 pm

That wood-grained formica was considered fashionable back when it was built – some of the older General Cinemas, like Southgate, had real wood paneling, which was too easily damaged, and this stuff was more durable. Those areas in the lobby were originally an art gallery – there were tracks at the top of the walls where hooks were attached and then paintings were hung on brass chains from the hooks. People could come in, look at the paintings and buy them if they wanted to.

The rolling grill openings were there to give an atmosphere of spaciousness – the mall “flowed” into the theatre and vice-versa. Most of the stores in that new area of the mall had no doors and very little glass seperating them from the common area – it was to make the place feel like a big department store. In the older section, after it was roofed over many of those stores removed the doors and windows – the rolling grills and glass and gates that disappeared into the walls and ceilings were only there to secure the stores when they were closed. The theatres then each had 1050 seats, it was always sold out, and you couldn’t stack such a big crowd in the lobby alone so we used the mall as stacking area.

We had 3 big, low sofas that were in the lobby, right in the middle of the floor, one behind the boxoffice and one inside each of those wide openings with the grills, and people from the mall could come in, buy soda and popcorn, sit down, chill and look at the paintings. The furniture was in the way when there was a crowd, so we moved them on the weekends into the auditorium in the space btwn the front row of seats and the screen. Eventually we never brought them back to the lobby and later they were taken away to another theatre.

RKwitkowski
RKwitkowski on January 9, 2006 at 1:37 pm

Amazing stories! That harassment continued through the end. Also it didn’t help that the General Cinema staff including the management team all returned to operate Cinema Grill and then Cleveland Cinemas. That’s a wonderful how GCC was able to maintain their space and funny how today the mall can’t seem to get any store to fill that wing of the mall.

Was that ugly “wood” decor always part of the exterior box office/poster case wall? Or was that added in one of the GCC renovations? Shortly before GCC closed us, they wanted to find money to redo our box office — to make it more secure. Also, it’s also fun to point out that within a year of granting us $22,000 to put in new carpeting for the lobby, General Cinema closed us.

Tell me about those “rolling grill” openings. What exactly were those about? Through the late 90’s we filled those spaces with arcade games. Then Cinema Grill turned that area into self-serve soda fountain stations. Then Cleveland Cinemas just used it for display space.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 9, 2006 at 2:05 am

BTW, to clarify my answer to your question on the Westgate page, Parmatown Shopping Center was built in several stages over many years by Forest City. The part closer to Ridge Rd. where you can park in front of the stores was the original section built in the late 1950’s. In the early 1960’s the unenclosed mall was built, from the alley-way behind the present food-court area up to and including the Mays/Kaufmanns store on one side and Lerner on the other side. In 1966-67 they extended it further west to include all the stores facing Kaufmans, the Cinema, Higbee/Dillards and the other stores in that area. At that time they also roofed over the previous section. In the late 1970’s they extended it south, built JC Penney and the stores and mall area closest to Day Drive.

In the early 1980’s when the lease was up for renewal, the mall came up with a scheme where the Cinemas restrooms on both sides would be moved upstairs and the area behind the poster cases, glass exit doors and rolling grill openings would be filled in with small stores. The Cinemas mall frontage would be reduced to only the box office and the 2 small sliding door openings on either side of it. General Cinema successfully resisted this, keeping all their original space, but that caused the bad blood btwn the mall and the theatre – they harrassed the theatre manager and the home office about every little issue with that theatre.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on January 9, 2006 at 12:44 am

I have a couple of old photos on my photobucket page: View link

Somewhere I have several original 8x10 glossy photos and the full-page Plain Dealer ad from the grand opening and a program booklet that I fished out of the managers trash long ago. They aren’t here in New York, but I’ve got stuff in storage (for 22 years) back in Ohio that someday I’m going to have to go through, and they may be there. I’ve moved so many times over the years stuff gets lost. It was billed as ‘Parmatown’s Million Dollar Showplace’. They had the Parma HS Marching band in the mall in front of the theatre, which had a big marquee at the time. There are a couple of shots of the crowd waitiing in the lobby and one in the auditorium with the mayor at the time, I think it was Petruska, and the Mgr and other GCC people having a grand opening ceremony.

When the theatre opened, the stores on the opposite side of the mall, Rosenblums, Susan Ives, Petries, were still under construction and did not have the back wall built up yet, only the roof. The theatre was, of course, open on the mall and the two auditoriums did not have doors on them in those days (the doors were added when Cinema I was split in 1973), so the cold November wind blew right threw the place and even though they had the heat crankin it was cold in there for the first month or so.

RKwitkowski
RKwitkowski on January 8, 2006 at 2:19 pm

Dave, do you have any more pictures from the original General Cinema Parmatown from the 70’s? I have tons from 1997-2004. When we first closed in 2001, unfortunately nobody took the framed Cleveland Plain Dealer article announcing the grand opening in 1967. When the staff returned in Spring of 2002, it disappeared during the remodeling.

RKwitkowski
RKwitkowski on January 7, 2006 at 9:40 am

I worked at Parmatown Cinema through all three closings — General Cinema in 2001, Cinema Grill in 2002, and Cleveland Cinemas in 2004. I managed there from 2002-2004, but was on the floorstaff since 1997. I’m fairly sure after Kowallek, Kim Brazina former GM of GCC Randall Park, was the next to take over. She was my boss and operated it until just prior to the final close in 2004. Her husband still operates AMC Westwood and the soon to be closed AMC Westgate.

Although I have moved on to AMC Ridge Park Square, my heart remains with the years that I spent at the old GCC Parmatown (1997-2001). After the Cinema Grill renovations, the place never had the heart it once had — both within the structure itself and with the staff.

BTW, the Cinema Grill failed because the owners of the company (Entertainment Film Works) were crooked and never paid their lease. Eventually the mall evicted them. This was a constant with EFW when they took over Hickory Ridge in Brunswick, Midway Theatre in Elyria, and Canton Center in Canton. Also, upon doing research they stuck with their routine all over the country and the last that I heard the IRS was after them and that they were operating under different names. EFW promised a lot when renovating PT, that they never made true on. Construction took almost 8 months because they weren’t paying the crew. Further, the auditoriums were never remodeled with that transition, which would have helped revive the theatre.

Parmatown Mall was responsible for the final closing of Cleveland Cinemas Parmatown in 2004, in order to acquire DICKS sport goods store. The mall management, who the theatre constantly had disputes with over the last 10 years, wanted a tenant that would pay a lease, since the mall owned the theatre and Cleveland Cinemas merely was in charge of operating it. Plans were in effect by the mall to build an 8-screen theatre across from the former one next to Wal-mart, but the last that I heard they were not able to acquire a company that was willing to build and manage it. Consequently, with word of the new Southland theatre (that was supposed to be built and opened last year by Cleveland Cinemas)and the new Cinemark SouthPark Mall location, it is doubtful that Parmatown will ever see a theatre again.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on October 5, 2005 at 11:02 pm

MJZ, mentioned above, has a daughter, MZ, who worked over at the Mercury Cinema in Middleburg Heights. She also ended up in Boston and was the payroll supervisor at the home office right up until AMC closed down the office.