Charles Cinema

185 Cambridge Street,
Boston, MA 02114

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Showing 1 - 25 of 85 comments

HowardBHaas on November 20, 2015 at 8:05 pm

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.

RogerA on November 20, 2015 at 7:45 pm

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 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

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

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 20, 2015 at 6:41 pm

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

HowardBHaas on November 20, 2015 at 6:39 pm

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.

RogerA on November 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm

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.

shirleymarquez on October 20, 2015 at 2:23 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.

shirleymarquez on October 20, 2015 at 2:20 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.

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.