Loews Cheri

50 Dalton Street,
Boston, MA 02115

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Cheri Theater in 1972

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Cheri complex remained in operation for about 40 years; few movie theaters in Boston have had such a lengthy life span other than the old movie palaces such as the Saxon, Savoy, etc. that have been converted to other uses. The first auditorium opened in February, 1966 with Marlon Brando in “The Chase”. The second auditorium opened in November, 1966 with Jack Lemmon in “The Fortune Cookie”. The third screen (i.e., the smaller auditorium on the upper level with the separate paybox) opened in July 1967 with Walter Matthau in “A Guide to the Married Man”.

The Cheri hosted a number of roadshows during the late-1960’s, including “Funny Girl” and “Oliver!”. When “Funny Lady” premiered there in an exclusive run in 1975, one screen showed the film on a reserved seat basis and another on a general admission basis.

The larger of the two lower level auditoriums was twinned in 1989. Following the closings of the Charles, Cinema 57 and Paris in the early-1990’s, the Cheri and Nickelodeon became the top theaters in the city for major Hollywood first run releases (essentially by default; the only other theater in Boston was the widely disliked Copley Place).

Attendance at the Cheri declined sharply after the opening of the nearby AMC Fenway in the late-1990’s and after a brief tenure as a discount house the Cheri closed in 2001 and is now a bowling alley and nightclub.

Whether the Cheri was deserving of such longevity is another matter. The auditoriums had mediocre sightlines, noticeably low ceilings and average sized screens. I don’t believe that any of the auditoriums were equipped for 70MM. Other Boston theaters of that era such as the Paris, Pi Alley (prior to twinning) and the main auditorium of the Charles complex were much more impressive.

Contributed by Erik Hestnes

Recent comments (view all 71 comments)

dickneeds111 on March 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I may be wrong but I do believe that 1 and maybe 2 of the Cheri’s were 70 mm equipped. They were a roadshow theatre at times.

camera65 on March 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Correct. I think Cheri 1 had a Century JJ 35/70mm projector and Cheri 2 had a Norelco AAll 35/70, both with platters. Originally, they had pairs of each before automation. They ran many 70mm films. “Chitty Bang Bang”, “Sleeping Beauty”, dozens of others. Small screens and very sharp image.

sweetmel on May 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I saw Moulin Rouge in 2001. I think it may have been the last film shown there.

Tinseltoes on July 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Described as the world’s first “drive-up” theatre in this 1966 trade article: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes on July 27, 2012 at 9:01 am

Additions described in this 1968 trade article: Boxoffice

Nataloff on August 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Tom Kauycheck was the long-time manager of the Cheri after Joe Sasso was promoted. Tom’s assistant was Hugo Ugolini. Tommy was terrific and he tended to hire from Boston’s Asian community because (he told me) of their strong family relationships and therefore dependability. But he also hired a lot of Irish kids. The Cheri was the Sack (well before Loews and USA Cinema) flagship house and was touted as among the first mult-screen cinema in the United States. Cheri I and II were okay but Cheri III was a disaster with the projector mounted in the ceiling aiming down (thanks to the space available within the parking garage). By the way, my name is Nat Segaloff and I was the chain’s publicity director in 1973 and 1974, then became a critic.

DaveB2010 on August 14, 2012 at 7:06 am

Tom! YES! Classic Boston accent. I don’t mean to insinuate anything about Tom. It was just that for the area it was an odd batch of hires. A lot of the cats that worked there were characters though. His two assistants were pretty cool too. Rueben and Tony(?) I think. Most of the staff at the end of the day were very good. And Tom was pretty laid back but ran a pretty good show. The guy that Loews/Sony replaced him with was a bit of an ass-clown though. I sort of miss those days. There were two projectionists that worked there too. Can’t recall their names, but one of them was a bit of a creeper. The whole union projectionist thing was odd to me coming from Loews theaters where that wasn’t the case (and man, I LOVED running the booth when I was in Jersey).

rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

February 17th, 1966 grand opening ad uploaded here.

Kerry_Maxwell on September 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I attended a sneak preview to Return of the Living Dead at The Cheri in ‘85. An amazing experience due to the “audience participation” from the highly animated crowd.

Don Eldredge
Don Eldredge on February 28, 2014 at 11:24 am

While visiting in Boston in the late 1990s, I saw Saving Private Ryan there. It was still a very nice theater at the time.

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