Galleria Cinemas

2630 E. Sunrise Boulevard,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

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rivest266 on March 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

This opened on December 19th, 1963. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

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ChasSmith on October 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

Great information, everyone. Appreciate it. I know it’s a long shot, but I hope to eventually find mid-60s photos of the place.

sporridge on October 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm

By the 80s and until the mid 90s, the “arched windows” retail space became a McDonalds (eat-in only, no place for a drive-thru). The space to the east was a long-shuttered bank, Financial Federal. Both were vacant for many years until demolition.

Bruce, the Pompano Cinema opened as a General Cinema house (or its predecessor, since they didn’t adopt the GCC name until the mid 60s). Loews' Broward screens were in Pembroke Pines, Lauderhill, Inverrary, and Coral Springs. I recently left some background at the Cinemas 4 Pompano page here at CT.

“GCC shadowbox” — nice description, I’ve been trying to think of the most precise term.

dave-bronx™ on October 5, 2009 at 9:12 pm

The buildings in front of the auditoriums were stores. As I recall, the store with the arched windows on the west side of the marquee was some kind of high-end womens clothing store (in the early 1970s). The space btwn the auditoriums and the backs of the stores was alley-ways for the emergency exits out of the theatres, and delivery entrances for the stores. The theatre was sub-divided and always remained within its' original footprint. Originally, the marquee had tall red serif-style neon letters spelling SUNRISE CINEMA on the top edge, above the attraction board. On the E. & W. sides of the marquee were smaller red neon letters spelling just CINEMA. Somewhere along the line they were all removed and the name was incorporated into the attraction board. I don’t know if it was done when it changed to Galleria, or maybe a previous storm took them down while it was still Sunrise.

BruceHannover on October 5, 2009 at 4:40 pm

You are correct, in your recollection regarding the original theatres' shadowbox screen surrounds at the Sunrise Cinemas. Both of the original houses had plywood surrounds, painted white, which were lit by concealed theatrical striplights with “General Cinema Blue” roundels (lenses) in them. We made a lot of extra income from changing those bulbs on maintenance calls.
The Hollywood Cinema, having been operated by GCC for a long period of time, also had a shadowbox screen with blue striplights. The Hollywood Cinema is still standing, however it has been closed for many years.
The Pompano Cinema, originally a Loew’s House, got the GCC shadowbox treatment when GCC took over. The Pompano Cinema, still standing as The Cinema nightclub (although gutted) was later twinned by GCC and lost the huge screen. Susequently it was quad-plexed.
The Riviera Theatre, in South Miami, had a similar screen, and was equipped for 70 mm. Again, it lost out when “plexing” became the economic reality. The Westchester Cinema, likewise, as well as the Lauderhill Cinema, another former Loew’s.
In later years, GCC hung blue striplights above the screen only, such as was the case at the Broward Mall (4) Theatres. Now demolished. The Coral Square eightplex received blue lights as well. The most recent ones, such as The Fountains, in Plantation, got blue gelled leko’s, mounted outside the portholes, focussed on the screen. And then slide projectors came along, showing advertisements, and the need for the blue screens was over. Ironically, the biggest player in the slide show ad game was a subsidiary of AMC, the competition.
Bruce Hannover

ChasSmith on September 29, 2009 at 6:38 am

Thanks. I have no idea why I thought the layout was different. I visited Fort Lauderdale in 2000 and when I drove by there I had no sense whatever, even from outside, that this was the place I remembered.

I’m looking at a straight-down view on Bing Maps, which must be a few years old because the buildings are still there. (Unfortunately, the bird’s eye views are up to date.) There are two slightly fan-shaped movie auditoriums, with two other buildings in front of them, with what might be an open walkway between them. Was that retail space, or did they add more theaters at one point? What are we actually seeing here?

View link

dave-bronx™ on September 28, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Sunrise Bl. runs east to west and the Sunrise/Galleria Cinema and shopping center was on the south side of the boulevard. The marquee and entrance faced north, the larger theatre, Cinema I, the screen wall faced the Intercoastal, east and the screen wall of Cinema II was right on NE 26th Ave.

ChasSmith on September 28, 2009 at 7:00 pm

We lived in Fort Lauderdale during the 1960s and I’ve been trying to find the twin that I always remembered as the “Sunrise Cinemas”. I guess I’ve found it, but I admit to some confusion. It’s described here as originally being a back-to-back, and, oddly enough, I’d remembered it as a side-to-side layout, with the seats of both theaters facing north.

The theaters I remember, which were indeed new in the mid-1960s, were of a very clean, modern design with no curtains or other traditional details, and the screens themselves were set back, framed within bevelled walls that were painted light like the screen. In my mind’s eye, those were lit by a soft blue light before and after films. It was spare and modern, but attractive and comfortable.

I’m probably not describing this well, and of course the memories are 45 years old, so I will very much appreciate it if anyone can confirm or correct any of this.

Here are films I think I saw there as a teen, some new and others obviously in re-release: “Blowup”, “Heavens Above” (Peter Sellers), “Psycho”, “Dr. Zhivago”, “West Side Story”, “How the West Was Won” (flat, of course). I left Fort Lauderdale for school in the fall of 1967, so all of this would have been in 1964-1967.

I’ll be very grateful for any help on this. Show me where I’m right and where I’m wrong. Thanks!

sporridge on August 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Drove past the former Galleria Cinemas site last Saturday night — no new activity yet. From Sunrise Boulevard, you can see open space all the way back to the parking garage. What a waste. By the way, the adjoining hotel’s currently known as “Gallery ONE – A Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel.”

Side story from my intermittent involvement with the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival. The 1991 edition closed with Mark Rydell’s “For the Boys,” and his hotel room overlooked the Galleria’s marquee. Told he was overjoyed to see one title in particular: “The Man in the Moon,” which he produced and had to fight an uphill battle to see properly released. (This “Moon” is now probably best known as Reese Witherspoon’s debut.)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 19, 2009 at 11:49 am

The Sunrise opened in 1964. It was tripled in 1977 but the name change to Galleria did not come until it was quaded in 1981.

BruceHannover on August 14, 2008 at 11:43 am

The name change occured in about 1976, as the old Sunrise Shopping Center to the west of the theatre was torn down and the new “Galleria” was built by developer Leonard Farber. The Sunrise shopping center was essentially a “strip mall” as all of the shops gaced the outdoor covered sidewalk that ran the length of the property, interupted only by intersecting streets. When the indoor Gallerai was built, they had to build over the streets, hence the escalators and long walkways inside without stores on the sides. I started there in 1978, and the name had already been changed.

dave-bronx™ on July 30, 2008 at 11:31 am

What year was the name changed from Sunrise Cinema to Galleria Cinema? I know it was changed to correspond with the name change of the shopping center, but don’t know the year.

BruceHannover on March 23, 2008 at 6:06 pm

The Donna Summer film was “Thank God It’s Friday”. How that could’ve slipped through the memory cracks, I don’t know…

BruceHannover on March 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm

S. Porridge, you are very kind. The old journeyman projectionist that I took over from was an old timer named Joe Seeley. I think he had been there from the beginning. He had kept those Todd-AO’s in mint condition. They were, indeed, a delight to work with, although the newer kids didn’t have the patience and the understanding necessary to “baby” them along.
The last four channel magnetic print that I remember was the Donna Summer film (the name of which escapes me…) about the disco scene.
A few years later, I was engaged by THX as a reviewer of presentations of 70mm showings around S. Florida. Done in my “off” time, they would pay me to go and buy a ticket and sit through a new release, just to critique the projection and sound. I wasn’t too popular after I (had to) reported a nice big scratch in a 70mm presentation at a Womteco house (Dadeland) which was running 70mm on platters.
And people ask me why I won’t go to the movies today…

sporridge on March 21, 2008 at 1:39 pm

So, we have Bruce to thank for the excellent projection/presentation that first drew me to the Sunrise/Galleria back in the late 70s. The smaller original twin (west side) was a gem, especially for hosting numerous exclusives (the late 70s FANTASIA reissue, MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN, and many sneak preview screenings) — wrecked by twinning.

Vaguely recall a more than year-long engagement for the late 60s GONE WITH THE WIND rerelease, too. Last time I think they used (or advertised) the six-track magnetic equipment was for THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS.

dave-bronx™ on March 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm

I remember seeing Planet of the Apes there (summer of ‘70? or '71?). You had to pay extra to sit in the smoking section. At the GCCs I worked at in Ohio and Michigan there was no extra charge to be in the smoking section.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 17, 2008 at 6:53 pm

In its heyday during the late sixties, the Sunrise Twin was considered a classy house and one of the top theatres in South Florida, boasting Ft. Lauderdale exclusive showings.

BruceHannover on March 17, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Galleria Cinemas, formerly known as the Sunrise Twin Cinemas, has indded been torn down.
Opening as a back to back Twin theatre, the big house seated around 1100 and the smaller house seated in the nieghborhood of 600.
The smaller house, ironically, had 35/70 mm projection capabilities. The machines were Todd-AO DP70’s and they ran like a top. They had Ashcraft Core-Light carbon arc lamphouses and that booth was a real sweatbox. I was the projectionist there in the late 1970’s. The big house had already been twinned and was on platters. The small house still had the Todd-AO’s and the Carbon Arcs. The Todd-AO’s came from a theatre in Tampa, I believe it was called the Britton Theatre, GCC brought them over to Ft. Lauderdale. It had the full six track magnetic sound also.
Once GCC started twinning it, it went downhill. The seats in the former big house did not give a straight view of the new small high up screens. It was awful. After I left, I understood that they twinned the small 70 mm house as well, and eliminated the dual 70mm machines, using one for parts to keep the other one running in one of the twins that had been carved out of the large original house.
Oh well.

warreng on June 23, 2007 at 2:07 pm

My wife and I both grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, so we took a ride down there today to see if it was still open. Not only is it closed, it is totally demolished! I guess the property was finally sold to make room for more condos or a hotel. I’m sad to see it go. I remember seeing Star Wars there and sitting way up front for that amazing opening scene. Lots of good memories there.

Mikeoaklandpark on September 7, 2006 at 7:57 am

Need to update the theater as CLOSED.

sporridge on March 15, 2006 at 12:13 pm

Hurricane Wilma has now claimed the Galleria Cinemas among its victims. Storm-related damage shuttered the theatre on October 24, 2005, and despite Sunrise Cinemas' intent to reopen, they’ve now quietly posted the message “THEATRE CLOSED” on their website (and taken the photos down).

Although not a surprise—as mentioned above, the neighboring McDonalds and savings & loan vacated the premises many years ago—and gentrification has invaded the surrounding area, this moviegoer’s stll sad to see the Galleria fade out. A long stretch of memories there: a late 1970s reissue of FANTASIA in the one auditorium that had yet to be twinned — beautiful presentation and my first encounter with stereo sound at a cinema; my first date with my first girlfriend (for BEING THERE); an occasional early 80s infatuation with specialty fare along the lines of ATLANTIC CITY, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, GALLIPOLI, LOCAL HERO and FANNY AND ALEXANDER that would’ve otherwise meant a trek to Miami; a few latter-day 70MM engagements (GHOSTBUSTERS and BRAINSTORM, although the effect was severely diminished due to twinning) and a magnet for preview screenings until the late 90s.

Opening date has been reported as early as 1963.

bornjaded on March 22, 2005 at 12:12 am

Strange theater. Two of the houses have monaural sound, so I avoid seeing anything showing in them. The two larger houses are very long and, when dark, cavernous. The audio in the stereo houses is rather dodgy, and the acoustics leave a bit to be desired. Having been inherited from General Cinemas, however, the screens are nice and flat, of decent size, have fairly accurate movable masking, and projection is usually crisp and clean. In its own queer way, this theater is quite cozy and good for a rainy day.