Arbor 7 Cinemas

10000 Research Boulevard,
Austin, TX 78759

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The Arbor Cinemas originally opened as a four screen theatre in 1984 by Presidio Theatres. In 1989 three more screens were added. There was no expense held back on the construction and design of this theatre.

The poster cases on the exterior of the building were unique in that they were outlined with a white colored brick and came to a point like a steeple over each with a large “P” engraved in the brick above each case.

The main entrance had three sections that also had the steeple effect at the top of each. At the top of each was a section of stained glass. There was canvas balloon styled awnings over each of the the three entrances. Above the box office there was a round section of stained glass with the “P” in them for Presidio.

The theatre had a large lobby with the restrooms on a second level with a balcony overlooking the lobby. The lobby ceiling ws done in a sky effect with clouds and twinkling stars.

The concession stand had five stations and had a red and white awning over it.

Two of the auditoriums were equipped for 70mm and THX certified. Seating was slightly elevated and featured high back seats with retractable arm rests. All in all this was a first class theatre unlike many of the other multiplexes.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

superdude480 on December 22, 2004 at 12:10 am

Tell me about it i saw the southwest premiere of George Staits movie Pure Country. I guess now a days money comes first to the heck with history.

rivest266 on January 3, 2005 at 1:40 pm

this theatre is still active with Regal Cinemas as of Jan. 2005

superdude480 on January 3, 2005 at 2:08 pm

im sorry but its not the theatre you are thinking about is the old great hills 8 that gcc closed. Regal has closed the original arbor 7 and reopened the old Great Hills 8 just a little ways down the street from arbor. Regal remodled great hills and renamed it Arbor@Great Hills Trail, Its serves as a art house for the regal chain complete with a cafe. Mr Krouse is right the original arbor 7 is gone just go to the malls web site and you will see that the arbor is not listed on the malls map page where it used to be next to the parking garage.

pkrouse on January 3, 2005 at 6:48 pm

Just to chronicle the whats and whys — the northwest Austin area “originally” had the Arbor 4 and at some point it was turned into the Arbor 7, run by Regal Cinemas. Sometime around then, the Great Hills 8 was opened a couple of blocks away, run by GCC. I don’t remember which came first — the Great Hills 8 or the Arbor upgrade. Both theaters featured first-run films. So then, the Gateway 16 opened and the Arbor 7 immediately switched to art house fare. Things couldn’t get any better at that point — so they got a little worse. GCC filed for bankruptcy, closing the Great Hills 8. Then things got MUCH worse — the Arbor 7 was closed, gutted and turned into a Cheesecake Factory. At this point we had a dead theater, unoriginal food and nothing nearby showing art house films or alternative films. Finally, Regal Cinemas took over the old Great Hills 8, calling it the Arbor at Great Hills. It shows art house films. We still have the Gateway 16 for first-run films, so northwest Austin is looking pretty decent theater-wise.

wparr69 on May 6, 2005 at 8:10 am

“Two of the auditoriums were equipped for 70mm and THX certified.”

Actually 3 theatres were equipped for 70mm THX, Auditoriums 2,3 and 4. Auditoriums 2 and 3 had waterfall curtains in them. Auditorium 1 was originally built as a mono house.

trailerjoh on October 11, 2006 at 4:41 pm

In answer to your comment of which came first, “I don’t remember which came first — the Great Hills 8 or the Arbor upgrade.” Great Hills 8 came first. Opened July 89 and a short time later, Arbor added the 3 new screens. I was projectionist at the GH8 but I don’t remember exactly the year the Arbor expanded.

It took a little while to get all the legal stuff out of the way and make plans for the remodel job at the GH site or I’m sure they would have opened sooner after we closed. GCC had not cratered yet when we close but were close. Many theaters were closing due to all the new modern screens opening up. It was cut throat city.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 18, 2007 at 4:08 pm

This is a 2/15/2002 article about the Cheesecake Factory moving into this former theater building.

“Austin, Texas, Movie Theater Loses Lease; Cheesecake Factory to Move In.

Source: Austin American-Statesman
Byline: Shonda Novak

Feb. 15—A beloved venue for foreign and art films in north Austin is closing to make way for the city’s first Cheesecake Factory restaurant.

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. is executing its option to terminate the lease on Regal Cinema’s Arbor 7 theater in the Arboretum shopping complex. The seven-screen theater must be out by March 31.

The Cheesecake Factory restaurant plans to open this fall.

Some observers say the Arbor 7 closing is a blow for the city’s film community, which has seen a half-dozen or more smaller independent movie houses close over the past 10 years.

“It’s just another loss for everyone: for the film community, for the general public, for everyone,” said Salvatore Botti, director of film programming for the Austin Film Society.

Botti said 300 people on average have been turning out Tuesday nights for a 1930s screwball comedy series the Austin Film Society currently is holding at the Arbor 7.

There is some talk that the theater might relocate to the nearby Great Hills 8 theater. But a call to the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Cinemas chain, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, was not returned.

“Having as many types of films in Austin just complements the community,” Botti said. “It’s obviously the age-old confrontation between art and commerce, and in this case, what is at stake is the art-house film. What frightens me most is, it’s about economics.”

Billie Scott, spokeswoman for Simon, declined to discuss the terms of the new lease with the Cheesecake Factory, whose restaurants have average annual sales of $11 million.

Although the theater will be missed, Scott said, “the replacement’s going to be pretty well-loved too.”

“We recognize that the theaters had appeal to those who lived in the immediate area, but we feel over time that they will embrace the addition of such a fine restaurant to their community,” Scott said. “In all of our malls, we try to create the best possible mixture of stores and attractions as we can, and it just fits in beautifully with the whole mix of tenants in the Arboretum.”

The Cheesecake Factory, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas, has 50 restaurants nationwide, including two in Dallas and one in Houston. A San Antonio location will open Feb. 26.

Howard Gordon, senior vice president of business development and marketing for the Cheesecake Factory Inc., said the restaurants have more than 200 menu items and 50 desserts and employ about 250 people. The average check is $15.40.

“A lot of people have been calling our office asking us when we’ll be coming to Austin,” Gordon said".

jayology on September 15, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I worked at the Arbor Cinema 4 in the summer of 1985, and I’m awfully sorry to hear it’s gone. We took a lot of pride in this theater. Chuck’s description is spot on, except that I’m pretty sure the Arbor opened its doors in the late spring of ‘85. I started there a few weeks after the grand opening, and this was my summer job after I graduated from high school, so I’m certain of the year.
Another unique feature in the lobby was the concierge station. It was located toward the front and was on your right, across from the concession stand, as your entered the lobby. There was always a manager posted there to keep an eye on things and answer questions from theater-goers and staff. I can’t say that I’ve seen anything like this in other theaters.
The decor in the lobby was supposed to evoke the courtyard of an Italian villa, or so I was told. I seem to recall that the outside of the elevator shaft was made to look like a clock tower, but I could be mistaken.
I do remember those very sleek, comfortable seats, which were designed by Porsche Designs.
Keep in mind this is 24 year-old hearsay, but I was told that Presidio originally planned to have more than 4 screens there. I don’t know how it was supposed to be laid out, but it seems like this was the reason the restrooms were upstairs, off the balcony.
The big movie that first summer was Back to the Future, and staff favorites were Silverado and Weird Science. Explorers was the stinker. People were constantly walking out of that one, and we had to issue a lot of refunds.
Anyway, it was a great place to work. I had hoped it was the beginning of a trend for more elegant movie houses, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

johncoeland on September 18, 2009 at 11:21 pm

I worked for Presidio Theatres as a manager from 1985-1987. I was based at the Lakehills Cinema 4 in south Austin. Arbor opened summer of ‘85. Jay, you’re right, the elevator shaft was designed to look like a clock tower in an Italian or European courtyard. It was the jewel of the Presidio circuit! Presidio set out to build the finest theatres in the country, and in my opinion, achieved that goal during its short lifetime. If any Presidio alumni out there read this, I’d LOVE to reconnect! The Presidio Legacy lives on to this day in the way some circuits do business. For example, Presidio was the first circuit to post the manager in the lobby at the concierge station. Loews copied that idea with “Guest Service” stations located in each lobby. GCC did too. Now that AMC has absorbed both companies, we have that original idea in nearly ALL of our locations. I am currently a manager at the AMC Loews 600 North Michigan 9 in downtown Chicago. Would really enjoy hearing from a blast from the past, so to speak!

John Oeland

jrpaperstack on September 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm

This theater was so nice when it opened that my parents always dragged me to it, even though the indoor clouds terrified me and we lived in the middle of the city. I enjoyed its art house run as well.

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