Charles Cinema

185 Cambridge Street,
Boston, MA 02114

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Showing 1 - 25 of 77 comments

thestarofmyworld on June 23, 2015 at 3:53 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.

dickneeds111 on March 26, 2015 at 12:56 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.

RogerA on October 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Well I worked at the Charles and The Astor the screen at the Charles was not that big so I don’t know where you got your information. Yes the Charles had Cinemeccanica 35/70 projectors with carbon arcs. They later converted to xenon and platters so one person could run all three screens. When Sack took over they reduced the screen size even further by masking it off.

dickneeds111 on June 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Roger. Sorry to bust your bubble. But when the Charles first opened up by The Reade group it had the 2nd largest screen in Boston(not counting the Cinerama) next to the Music Hall(nee Metropolitan/Wang. The Astor was next. The Charles was equipped with 70mm from day one. Cinema 2&3 were added later by Sack/USA or Lowes. When Lowes took over they downsized the screen. Star Wars played in 70mm late in its engagement. I saw many movies there. Saw Ryan’s Daughter there on the big screen in 70mm and it was impressive.That was in 1970. Did not see Star Wars there because I was stationed elsewhere.

RogerA on February 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm

The buzz about “Star Wars” was alive and well in London well before it was released. In Boston Sack management got rid of the union projectionists that were used to running the Charles and hired others. New prints don’t usually break. The 35mm print I saw at the Charles looked and sounded so bad I called Fox and complained. The operators didn’t even know how to make a proper splice. Fox brought in a 70mm print and I heard that they went through a number of 70mm prints during the run. Why the myth persists that The Charles had a large screen I will never know but in fact the screen at the Charles was not very big and was never the largest in Boston!

jkaufman on December 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm

just a refresher on the Star Wars opening in Boston spring 1977. I was working at the MGH, and the department of surgery there had a full-time photographer. he was friendly with the projectionist at the Charles and saw the opening of Star Wars with him. the film broke, and as part of the repair, our photographer came away with a still frame showing darth vader. he showed that to the resident surgeon staff and gave the movie rave reviews. we signed out our clinical duties the next day and took in the matinee, where the theater was only 1/3 full, and the audience was jumping off the seats. the movie was a “sleeper” and had scant advance notice. by two days later, with hugely favorable reviews, the lines were around the block!

rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm

April 7th, 1967 grand opening ad uploaded here.

jendeaderick on October 25, 2012 at 1:22 am

When I was a kid, standing on line at the Charles was an essential part of the Star Wars experience, for all three movies. The line would wrap around the building. Waiting added to the excitement, made the whole thing an event.

Recently, some friends held their daughter’s birthday party at the Brattle, and screened a DVD of Star Wars. When the opening theme started, I was instantly back at the Charles, finally in my seat after a half hour in line.

HowardBHaas on July 14, 2012 at 8:54 am

For people who have been posting them here, and those who don’t know- there are exterior & auditorium photos of this one on cinematour. It doesn’t matter if other websites steal those photos. THIS website has a policy against that so those photos have been removed.

dickneeds111 on July 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm

To Dan P and others. When Reade opened the Charles it had the 2nd largest ccreen in downtown Boston. #1 was the Music Hall and # 2 was the Astor which was never owned or run by Sack or USA or Lowes. Gettysburg opened at the Coolidge Corner and then 3 weeks later at the Charles. Both theatres ran it in 70mm. I believe the CC is still equipped with 70mm. I don,t believe the CitiWang(Music Hall) has 70mm anymore.

CSWalczak on May 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

There are two pictures of the Charles Cinema (scroll down about a third of the way) on this webpage.

BobSchlapowitz on May 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I think Loews had taken over the Charles by the time Gettysburg opened.

dickneeds111 on May 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I believe that gettysburg opened 1st for about 3 weeks at the Coolidge Corner then Moved over to the Charles. Sack didnb’t want it because it was too long and he could only get about 3 screenings per day. So the coolidge tookit. The same thing happened to the 1st Muppetts movie. Sacl controlled downtown at that time and he thought it was probably too G to make money. So of all the theatres to take it was the Exeter and they laughed all the way too the bank for many weeks.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 26, 2012 at 9:32 am

But I saw Gettysburg at the Charles. Maybe it opened simultaneously at Coolidge?

whbjr on May 26, 2012 at 8:48 am

Not quite as famous as Leno or Fonzie, but I worked at the Charles with Mario Cantone, who was as high-energy then as he is now (and I mean that in a good way).

dickneeds111 on May 26, 2012 at 6:24 am

No one seems to know who the famous Bostonian was that ushered at the Charles. If i.m not mistaken it was Jay Leno while he was at Emerson. Another Emerson student, although not a Bostonian who may have worked there was “THE FONZ” Henry Winkler. I’m just guessing at this. I know he was an alumni speaker at Emerson colleges graduation back about 17 years ago when my son graduated. The Charles was a great movie house not a Palace like the Metropolitan(Music Hall-Wang ctr- Citi Wang ctr). Saw many films there especially the big ones like Deliverance, Pete and Tillie, The Wrath of God(Robert Mitchum, Star Wars(35 & 70mm) and Ryans Daughter in 70mm. Just to keep people informed I do believe that Ted Turners Gettysburg in 70 mm opened at the Coolidge Corner 1st because Sack did not want it because it was too long. Another movie that Sack didn;t want was the 1st Muppetts Movie, it went to the Exeter and played to packed houses for many weeks.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm

The Charles had a huge screen upstairs and two small screens downstairs. When Walter Reade still owned it, those were called the Charles East and Charles West.

dce6644 on May 20, 2012 at 6:12 am

The Charles was always a great place to see and hear BIG movies in the 70’s and 80’s. I have fond memories of seeing ALIEN, JAWS, THE LAST WALTZ, GLORY, the STAR WARS and BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogies… It was the only theatre in town that did justice to the restored LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 1982.

After the Music Hall closed in the 70’s, the Charles was the one of the usual Sack houses for the Bond movies. I’m pretty sure I saw FOR YOUR EYES ONLY there.

Wasn’t there a smaller screen downstairs at the Charles too? Pretty sure that’s where I saw BLADE RUNNER.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 20, 2012 at 4:49 am

By the late 1970s and early 80s, the Music Hall was almost exclusively a live stage and rarely showed films.

Billinuk on May 19, 2012 at 11:37 pm

In the late 60’s / early 70’s When the Music Hall showed movies it was the largest screen, followed by the Astor and then I think the Savoy. Thanks to the the closing of those theatres the Charles moved up the ladder. I don’t remember the Cinema 57 screen being that large but if you guys say so, I’m willing to believe it.

sweetmel on May 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

This will always be the Star Wars theatre for me. I have very fond memories of the charles.

HowardBHaas on May 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm

The Music Hall wasn’t showing movies on a daily basis in the 1980s. I’m started to read your comment that the Cinema 57 had a larger screen. I don’t recall what kind of movies they were showing. I don’t see photos online that depict a huge screen. I only see the few at cinematour. The best screen that I enjoyed was the Charles.

whbjr on May 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

When I worked at the Charles in ‘78-'82, the general knowledge was that we were second-biggest – the Cinema 57 had a bigger screen and bigger seating capacity, but our sound system was better. (Feel free to call me a highly-biased source.) I’d forgotten about the Music Hall, that screen may well have been bigger.

dickneeds111 on May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

to Roger A. Sorry roger but you are wrong about Sack theatres also had the Gary, Saxon, Music Hall, Cinema 57',Beacon Hill and the Capri and one cinema in Copley Place that was equipped with 70m. These theatres may have not been open at the time you are talking about. The largest screen in Boston was the Music Hall and the Charles was 2nd followed by the Astor. The Orpheum also had a large screen and ran 70mm. The Boston premiere of Gettysburg I believe was at Coolidge Corner and in 70mm. Boston had plenty of 70mm theatres but Sack controlled downtown and let all these theatres fall apart. When they became USA cinemas it got worse. I wish that READE had never sold to Sack/USA. Reade ran nice theatres.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 12, 2012 at 10:31 am

I walked by the site of the Charles Cinema twice last week while going to a clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is very close by. The address above is correct; the Map and the Google Street View are both incorrect.