Charles Cinema

185 Cambridge Street,
Boston, MA 02114

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The Charles Cinema was opened April 7, 1967, and had, for a time, the biggest movie screen in Massachusetts. It was a great place to see an ‘event’ movie, like “The Empire Strikes Back” or other blockbusters. The style was modern and simple. The Charles Cinema was the “Astor Plaza” of Boston: a top-notch presentation with a huge audience.

The Charles Cinema was built for the Walter Reade circuit. The Charles Cinema eventually became part of Loews and was closed in 1994.

Contributed by Ian Judge

Recent comments (view all 86 comments)

dickneeds111 on March 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Sorry to disagree with you Roger but when I saw Ryan’s daughter with my wife at the Charles in it’s first week in 1970 it was presented in it’s original format of Super Panavision 70 it was on Boston’s 2nd biggest screen next to the Music Hall and a wonderful sound system. Having been a projectionist my self I do believe I know when a screen is big or small and also what type of sound they use.

thestarofmyworld on June 23, 2015 at 11:53 pm

I saw the premiere of the Empire Strikes Back at this theater. (I remember waiting a very long time to see it — maybe it was just that way for a six year old.) Great memories.

shirleymarquez on October 20, 2015 at 10:20 am

Charles Cinema may not have had the largest screen in Boston when it opened. But those other places closed or stopped showing movies long before the Charles did, so the time when it had the largest screen in Boston came later.

shirleymarquez on October 20, 2015 at 10:23 am

@billinuk: The Cinema 57 as I knew it had been converted into a two screen theater in an unusual way: it was split DOWN THE MIDDLE, resulting in two very long skinny rooms. (The back half was essentially useless; you would be better off watching the movie at home than from there.) The original configuration, which was gone before I ever went there, would have had a larger screen.

RogerA on November 21, 2015 at 2:09 am

The Cinema 57 was built as a twin and was long and narrow like a bowling alley. The sound there was always bad and you had to sit real close to the screen to hear stereo. The left and right speakers were over the exits so you could hear stereo sound beyond the first few rows. What they did to it later I have no idea.

The screen at the Charles was not that big either. Ben Sack liked large screen but when the company got taken over the new management did not like large screens. The screen at the Astor was much larger than the one at the Charles and the screen at the Beacon Hill was also larger than the one at the Charles.

HowardBHaas on November 21, 2015 at 2:39 am

I was never in the Astor. I’d expect it would have a large screen. I wouldn’t have been in the Cinema 57 before it was triplexed. The Charles had a very large screen, 50 feet by 25 feet is what was reported. It was my favorite place to see a new movie in Boston in the early 1980s when I was there for school and later when I visited.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 21, 2015 at 2:41 am

the Cinema 57 was never triplexed. It was built as a twin and remained so until it closed.

HowardBHaas on November 21, 2015 at 3:33 am

Oops, I had looked up Beacon Hill as per comment by Roger A & meant the Beacon Hill in my comment.

RogerA on November 21, 2015 at 3:45 am

So for those of you who think the screen at the Charles was large you have never seen a large screen. The Astor screen was wall to wall and installed by Todd-AO.

HowardBHaas on November 21, 2015 at 4:05 am

I’ve no doubt the Astor screen was huge. I’ve seen huge screens such as the DC Uptown, Seattle Cinerama, etc. But when I lived in Boston the Astor wasn’t open anymore & the Charles was the best there was. And, it was good.

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