Comments from dallasmovietheaters

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Decatur Drive-In on May 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

By the way, the drive-in theater actually didn’t open on Nov. 8, 1947 as indicated in the contest. It actually was delayed for more than six months with its grand opening on July 30, 1948.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Crescent Theatre on May 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Reading your local paper, all reports indicate that this was the Nixon Theatre originated by J.A. Swaton exhibiting vaudeville and short films. The Nixon was purchased by Gus Crivello on Nov. 2, 1909 and renamed / advertised as the Nina Theatre. On Dec. 6, 1909 Jack Herman purchased the Nina continuing into 1910.

This part may be incorrect, but the paper indicates that on March 15, 1910, the theatre is changed to the Bijou Theatre showing films and with vaudeville acts. On April 29, 1910, the theater is closed by the city. Re-opens briefly as the Bijou until new owners take over in 1911.

On September 25, 1911, the Crescent Theater advertises at 210 W. Third St. In November of 1915, the theater changes hands again and is known as the “new” Crescent into 1916 before closing early in the year. An evangelist appears at the location but no more theatrical bookings appear at that location which becomes full-time retail.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Twilight Drive-In on May 6, 2015 at 9:58 am

Technically, the Twilite Drive-In. For those interested, you can go to historic aerials and enter the address 1538 Brightwood, New Philadelphia OH to see its spot that has the drive-ins footprint to 1985. Launched in 1947 and rebuilt/rebranded as the New Twilite beginning in 1967.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Marion Theatre on May 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Architected by J. Lewis Ellis, the Marion was opened Oct. 20, 1914 with 700 seats. Its first film was, “My Official Wife.” The Marion Photo-Play Company was in charge. The Photo-Play Company got in financial difficulty in October of 1928 closing the Marion as the theater went into receivership. Its closing was just for ten days as there was a larger deal coming to get the theater in the hands of Paramount / Famous Players which operated the theater from 1929 to 1932. Not surprisingly, the theater would host “Paramount Week.” But the theater closed and was re-opened before being sold to Mid-Ohio Theaters Circuit. The Marion was surging in 1952 at 5,000 customers a week. But attendance would plummet in 1953 and – just three years after its high flying days – it would close for good in 1955. The nearby State Theater closed two years later.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Joy Theatre on May 5, 2015 at 9:37 am

The Oakland Theatre Building was architected by Fred D. Jacobs and completed with its grand opening in October of 1922 and named after the Oakland Height neighborhood in Marion. Eight operators would find out the hard way that neighborhood theater operation was tough sledding in Marion as the theater seemed closed as much as opened in a checkered 26 years of service. Though the theater’s address was at 764 Davids in the Oakland Heights neighborhood, the mixed retail/residential building had numerous addresses containing apartments on the second floor and a number of businesses on the main floor. It was described as a superstructure taking up an entire block at Belafontaine Ave. and Davids. The 400-seat theater appears to initially be under the ownership of the Marion Photo-Play Company which operated the Marion, Grand and Orpheum at some point. The Oakland shut down in the summers in its formative years. Benefit screenings and lectures were part of the theater’s apparently unsuccessful run.

Marion’s movie industry goes into financial tumult in the late 1920s. The Oakland Theatre closed and, in 1928, new owner Reuben Maxson who had three theaters in Celina signed a ten-year lease and arranged for an extensive $15,000 remodeling of the Oakland which included a Japanese tea room, the neighboring New Oakland Sweet Shop silver screen, upholstered seats and an electric Kilgen & Son Wonder Organ with hundreds of pipes to be played by Dorothy Wilson of WAIU radio. On May 28, 1928, the rebranded “New Oakland” launched with “The Gaucho.” The theater struggled and went into receivership though sold to W.C. Barry of Marion in early October of 1928. Maxson’s remaining two Celina theaters were closed as a result of the deal and the Sweet Shop was cut loose from the Oakland’s operation. The theater was rebranded as “The Oakland Theatre.” Two weeks later the Marion Photo-Play company closed the Marion and had to sell off its two remaining theaters, the Grand and Orpheum. The owner, John J. Huebner, would re-open the Marion later. The Oakland was retrofitted for sound showing “Abie’s Irish Rose” on July 19, 1929. Following the January 20, 1930 shows, the Oakland closes.

From 1931-1933, a news article states that the Oakland becomes the Mimes Playhouse presenting live stage plays before moving onward. On April 12, 1936, Harry A. Galenes the Oakland Theatre with “The Mighty Barnum” and “Air Hawks.” Soon after, the Oakland closed again. Then on August 14, 1936, the theater reopened with A. Milo DeHaven formerly of the Charkeres Theater Circuit. The theater’s re-re-re-re-opening film was Jack Benny’s “It’s in the Air.” The theater closes and reopens late in September of 1936 with “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.” The theater closes again and under its sixth owner, E.A. Ballou is rebranded as “The Oak” opening with “The Roaring Twenties” on Feb. 29, 1940. That appears to last about one month.

The theater opened again in April of 1948 under owner C.E. Harvey who renamed it the Joy Theater. The theater went from 400 to 348 seats in the redesign. “Red Stallion” launched the Joy on April 14, 1948. But there was little joy for the Joy and the theater closed. The Oakland/Joy became a church identified as within the Oakland Theater Building until 1957. (So the entry can definitely stay as the Oakland Theater.) Foursquare Gospel is in the building until 1953 and Christ Gospel appears to be in the space until 1957. No further businesses listings, theatrical bookings or services appear at the location after that date.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Star Vue Drive-In on May 3, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Moxley & Moxley Theaters started the Starvue Drive-In launching with “Fury at Furnace Creek” on October 4, 1949. The Moxleys would sell out to the McCuthchens who had owned the Gem and still had the Roxy and Ritz Theaters in Blytheville. On May 29, 1969, the Malco Theater Circuit purchased the Roxy and Starvue from May McCutchen (the Ritz had closed at the end of 1966). Malco quickly drew ire for two X-rated features at the Starvue and pretty much stuck to the hits though running exploitation fare in 1977 if not beyond before closing, being demolished and becoming a car dealership.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Roxy Theatre on May 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm

The Home Theatre launched April 18, 1924 and got its name from a contest winner announced March 20, 1924 by H.S. Foster who received an annual pass to the theatre. A fire in December of 1931 at the neighboring Smith-Simon Building caused the city to inspect the Home Theatre which was condemned though officially not for fire damage. The fire led to a lawsuit to determine damages to both buildings ($30k for Simon and $10k for Home Theatre).

The Roxy Amusement Company repaired the Home Theatre and renamed it the Roxy but, according to the news article, only operated it for a few months before selling to the most well known local movie house operators in Mr. O.W. and Mrs. May McCutchen of the Gem and the Ritz (and, later, the Starvue Drive-In). During the summer months, the Roxy was closed due to lack of air conditioning and the McCutchens would overhaul the Roxy having a grand re-opening in 1933. They had some air cooling now in place and spent about $10,000 refurbishing the Roxy.

In 1956, the Roxy was retrofitted to play CinemaScope and VistaVision amongst it widescreen offerings. Following the Saturday midnight showings of “Sun Lovers Holiday” on Sept. 24, 1966, there are no more mentions or bookings for the Roxy. In 1967, an evangelist hosts a revival there and that appears to be it for the veteran theater space.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about La Plaza Theater on May 2, 2015 at 5:30 am

Giouse “Sony” Martini was a veteran movie theater operator in Galveston with his Martini Theatre as well as the Booker T. Washington and this theater, The George W. Carver Theater which played films beginning in 1940 for African American audiences. In 1959, Mateo Vela buys the Carver and switches to Hispanic films under its new name of the Rey Theater. Martini apparently uses the Booker T for a period of running African American films before returning mainstream until that theater’s apparent closure in 1968. Back at the Rey, Vela refines the theater’s name for Hispanic audiences as Teatro Rey and sometimes the redundant Teatro Rey Theatre from 1963 until he sold the Rey in 1973.

It runs under Teatro Rey for five more years. Likely under new and final ownership as a movie theater, on June 22, 1978, the theater changes names to La Plaza Theatre and continues with Hispanic films. Following an April 22, 1979 booking, the theater appears to have gone dark and is listed as for sale in classified listings soon after running from 1979 to 1981. An impressive 20-year Hispanic run and a nearly 40-year cinematic run for the Carver/Rey/La Plaza. The building is purchased in 1988 for the purpose of conversion to non-theater interests.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Lyric Theatre on May 1, 2015 at 12:41 pm

The Rex Theater opened on July 2, 1930 with “On with the Show” with both Vitaphone and Movietone sound equipment. The “New” Rex Theatre opened August 2, 1935 and the original Rex became the Lyric. The Lyric’s last movie listings were in 1962 before becoming a church later in the decade.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Rex Theatre on May 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm

The “New” Rex Theatre opened August 2, 1935 with 500 seats downs stairs at 25 cents each and 350 in the balcony at 15 cents each. The 16’ by 20’ screen showed Will Rogers’ Judge Priest. The New Rex replaced the former Rex Theater which had just opened five years earlier on July 2, 1930 at 3503 W. 6th Ave. with “On with the Show” with both Vitaphone and Movietone sound equipment. It would become the Lyric which was open into the 1960s before becoming a church. On February 18, 1956, the newer Rex closed with “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “The Night Holds Terror.”

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Navarro Twin Drive-In on May 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

The grand opening for the Navarro Drive-In which launched with “Swiss Family Robinson” was on August 6, 1948. The 10-acre site was purchased by Maurice Cole of the Texas Drive-In Theatre Operators circuit. The Navarro would come close to delivering its twin screen in time for the 25th anniversary. It narrowly missed advertising as “Second Screen coming soon” in its ads. The Navarro hired Glenn Vaughn away from the Corsicana Twin Cinema – former Jerry Lewis Twin Cinema – giving the Navarro an experienced hand managing a dual-screen operation. Screen two / the Twin launched Sept. 20, 1973 with “Paper Moon” and “Bad Company” while a Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood double feature played on the original screen.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Valley Drive-In on May 1, 2015 at 7:09 am

Architected by Hammond and Company, Charles A. Richter and Frederick Martin’s $75,000 Valley Drive-In was showy. The Spanish Colonial architecture, gaudy colors, neon, and landscaping made a nice backdrop for theater-goers and passers by, alike. Composed of brick, steel, concrete and glass brick with maroon accents, the theater tower was best remembered for its tropical palm mural. The 38x52 foot screen had a black matte and a sliver screen projection area. In addition to its 300 spaces, there is a long row of benches for people without cars (which can be seen in one of the photos). Richter claimed to have built the third ever drive-in in the USA. In 1948, Richter became president of the Independent Drive-In Theaters Association located in Austin, TX. The original co-owner of the Valley, Frederick Martin, is listed as its sole owner later that year.

Good call on the closing Drive-In 54: The year-round operation appears to have ceased operations just after its 15th anniversary celebration. The last showtimes advertised were on Feb. 22, 1960 with “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The land was leased from a local farmer which may indicate the end of a 15-year agreement.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Cactus Drive-In on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:20 am

Correction: April 29, 1949

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Ruston Drive-In on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:01 am

Designed by Harvey A. Jordan, the architectural drawings for the Ruston Drive-In can be found in the University of Texas library.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about East Main Drive-In on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:17 am

The Harvey A. Jordan architected Chisholm Trail Drive-In was named after its owner, Mr. E. Chisholm who announced the project in March of 1959 and had a grand opening on May 21, 1959. The Chisholm Trail was at 3001 East Main Street bounded by railroad tracks and Main Street and getting additional traffic from Jefferson Avenue. Opening first features on the 40' by 80' screen were “Forest Rangers” and “Wells Fargo.” Chisholm veered the theater toward families and children. Competition was just down to the east with the Twin Drive-In and then further down to the east was the Jefferson D.I. Trains would constantly appear to blow through the Chisholm’s drive-in tower with loud noise and rumbling during screenings. The Chisholm struggled and Woodland Hills Mayor Arthur Avnsoe took over the theater in 1962. The theater’s view toward busy E. Main St. and noise and rumblings – not from the trains – but within the cars at the drive-in appears to have unseated the Chisholm.

Attention about a jury trial over the theater’s showing of “Europe in the Raw” on July 16, 1963 caused a chain reaction. Though the drive-in prevailed having not violated the 1961 anti-obscenity act, public furor didn’t subside. Chemline Inc. – operators of the nearby Twin Drive-In – decided to challenge the Constitutionality of the city’s ordinance which drew an overflow audience to the courtroom. A psychiatrist from Austin explained the dangers of screen leakage on drivers. The anti-obscenity act was upheld which gave residents some teeth in the matter. Not one but 15 petitions flowed to Grand Prairie Mayor C.P. Waggoner with over 1,000 signatures about lewd and obscene films showing at the Chisholm in 1964. Facing mounting public relations backlash for public nuisance and causing inattentive driving habits, the Chisholm’s operator had an opportunity.

First, Avnsoe would move to the newly built Country Squire Drive-In just south of Dallas' Redbird Airport on U.S. 67. As for the Chisholm, veteran theater operator J.J. Rodriguez of the Panamericano in Dallas was convinced by businessmen to convert his Spanish language Panamericano Theater to an art house/restaurant/night club called the Festival. This would require the Panamericano to shut down in early 1965 to convert the space. Rodriguez took on the Chisholm in March 1965 to continue his bookings of Spanish Language films. Rebranding the ozoner as the Auto Vista, Rodriguez opened March 29, 1965 with “La Bandida” and “Suenos de Oro.” Rodriguez operated the theater for one season but closed the theater not long after the Festival launched.

Charles Weisenburg added the Auto Vista the next season in his circuit of Weisenburg Theaters. He rebranded the Auto Vista as the East Main Drive-In and switched it back to English language films. Weisenburg dropped the East Main but the McLendon Theater Circuit would take over the East Main shortly thereafter in 1969 hoping to turn it in to a twin screener. McLendon had recently purchased the Downs Drive-In in Grand Prairie and would convert it to the renamed, multi-screen Century Drive-In in 1970. The circuit had also converted the single screen Garland Road Drive-In into the three-screen Apollo Drive-In. McClendon took over the Plano Drive-In retaining its name and converting it to a three-screen operation. McClendon’s ozone portfolio entering the 1970s was the Astro, Apollo, Gemini, Century, and East Main. That didn’t last long for one property and it was the East Main on the chopping block.

The East Main space was tight and McLendon decided to hold off on twinning the theater. As an underachiever for three previous owners, McLendon reduced the theater to discount status playing exploitation double and triple features or third-run major features to an admission price of just 99 cents per carload. The experiment ended in 1971 as McLendon quietly dropped the theater. A look at the theater at historical aerials.com in 1972 shows the first “bite” already removed from the theater with its demolition to follow. Three names, five owners and not much success for the Chisholm Trail /Auto Vista/ East Main in a 12-year period.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Twin Drive-In on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:11 am

The Twin Hi-Ways Drive-In Theater opened in June 26, 1955 at 4800 E. Main St. in Grand Prairie. with “Duel in the Sun” and “The Long Wait” on its single screen. The Twin confusingly opened as a single-screen theater named after the two roadways that the drive-in was near in Loop 12 and Highway 80. Patrons could enter from Highway 80 / Main St. or Jefferson St.. that bounded both sides of the theater. Because the theater pre-dated the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike during its first two years of operation, loads of traffic passed by the theater.

Its competition came from the Jefferson Drive-In about 2.5 miles to the east. In its first years of operation, the Twin played second-run double features. Unlike the Jefferson whose screen was shielded from ongoing cars, the Twin Hi-Ways had its screen facing the highway which led to myriad accidents including fatalities. This was an awful situation that just got worse. Two weeks after the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike opened routing traffic to what is now Interstate 30, mother nature spoke. A wind storm knocked the Twin’s theater screen down on September 11, 1957. Unfortunately, the owners doubled down and created a two-screen theater rebuilding the “East Screen” with 750 spots and the new, “West Screen” opening July 18, 1958 with 500 spots. “Peyton Place” opened on East Screen and “God’s Little Acre” with “Across the Bridge to Mexico” inaugurated the West Screen. The theater’s official name was now Twin Drive-In Theatres often referred to as The Twin and both screens carried double-features with newer content on East Screen. Both screens faced Highway 80 making even more unsafe traffic conditions than before. And this nightmarish situation even got worse yet.

In 1959, new competition from the family-oriented Chisholm Trail Drive-In (renamed the Auto Vista and then the East Main) less than two miles to the west. With competition fierce, Chemline, the operators of the Twin. Chemline made a momentous decision late in 1962 to turn East Screen into an adult screen. People too afraid or cheap to buy a ticket parked on the shoulder or in the ditches along Highway 80 and, upon completion of viewing, would pull out slowly onto the highway. Drivers not expecting cars pulling from the shoulder or a ditch and possibly with their eyes on the drive-in screen faced myriad near misses, as well as serious and fatal accidents along the stretch. On December 4, 1962 police seized seven “girlie” films and would charge the operators with a “public showing” of lewd content. The operators were able to previal in a lower court decision as a First Amendment violation and appealed licensing fees as a tax upon the right of free communication. The Chisholm Drive-In would also experiment with adult content doing brisk business with “Europe in the Raw” in 1963 as Chemline’s case proceeded.

In 1964, 15 petitions were handed to Grand Prairie Mayor C.P. Waggoner with over 1,000 signatures. With a public relations disaster on their hands, the theaters went two different directions. The Chisholm operator moved away from Grand Prairie to Dallas and created a new drive-in to show adult fare. A new operator rebranded the Chisholm as the Autovista playing Hispanic-oriented films. The Twin’s Chemline, meanwhile went all in with a court battle drawing an overflow crowd and a psychiatrist from Austin explaining the dangers of screen leakage on drivers and youth, alike. Chemline got a big win and a slight loss in November of 1964 with the case appealed on both counts. On July 6, 1966, Chemline finally lost at the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Chemline v. City of Grand Prairie. But the four-year battle saw four more years of traffic problems.

Following its loss, the Twin appeared to have taken a low-key philosophy discontinuing show listings and advertising. Hopes to move away from anything other than adult films was challenged when the three-screen Astro moved in less than five miles away in 1968 near Loop 12 and the 303. According to the police blotter, adult films are stolen from the theater’s projection room in 1968 and 1970. Since incomplete reels were taken in the heists, it was apparent that the thieves didn’t want the theater playing adult content more than the thieves wanting incomplete copies of features. The Twin’s East Screen appears to have been retired toward the end of the theater’s run. The entire operation appears to have closed not long after two big robberies in November and December of 1970. That also times out with the end of a 15-year lease which likely was the end of Twin.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike would become a “free” interstate in 1978 decimating traffic and property values around the Twin in the late 1970s. Today, the Twin’s East Screen has junked cars for an auto salvage yard and the West Screen has returned to vacancy as of the mid-2010s and can be found across from the Sunset Golf Club in Grand Prairie. A year after the Twin closed, its competition to the west – the East Main Drive-In which was playing super low-cost double-feature sub-runs and triple-feature sub-sub or exploitation runs (former Chisholm / former Autovista) closed after the 1971 season leaving just the Jefferson Drive-In along this stretch. The Jefferson would operate until 1990 with the Astro going all the way to 1998.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Forum 6 Cinema on Apr 27, 2015 at 7:23 am

Spelling error: Doris Leeper (not Looper)

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Forum 6 Cinema on Apr 27, 2015 at 7:22 am

The fast-growing AMC Theater chain wanted to follow up its game-changing AMC Northtown 6 and its follow-up AMC Northwood Hills 4 with another 42 screens with 10,000 seats in Dallas-Fort Worth during the 1971 calendar year. Also fast-growing was the community of Arlington, TX and a heavyweight battle was being waged at the end of the 1960s as two competing malls were being built within five miles of each other in Arlington. General Cinema and AMC wanted to be near or in these new malls.

The battle: in one corner – at U.S. 80 and Texas 360 – was a mall planned by veteran shopping center group Homart Development and executed by Monumental Properties. That mall had a nice design, good traffic flow, well devised parking plans, some landscaping, and three A+ anchors for the time in Sears, Sanger-Harris, and JC Penney’s. With 97% occupancy at its grand opening on August 5, 1970, architect Harwood K. Smith used Texas sun tones, tropical greenery and architectural flourishes to serve as a harmonic showcase for the area. The mall — built upon 80 acres home formerly to the historic Downs Racetrack – had a design using the area’s fun sensibilities and was called the Six Flags Mall. Outside of the shopping mall was an area called The Village, an external shopping center is the area housed by Cinema I & II by General Cinema.

In the other corner less than three miles south was a mall at the confluence of N. Forum Drive, Spur 303, Highway 360, and E. Arkansas Lane. The gangly over-sized mall went up in stages with the first store opening in Halloween of 1969 and its name was the Forum 303 Mall probably because the name, “Forum-303-360-Arkansas Mall” seemed too long. The 120-acre facility by Alpert Investment Corp. had Montgomery Wards along with Meacham’s and Leonard’s Department Store as its original anchors. The mall would also have an amphitheater called The Forum with 320-seats which had two airplane-fin-like skylights sculptures designed by artist Doris Marie Leeper. The odd art objects would spell out Forum Mall in a serif font with gaudy purple coloring.

Phase I of the mall launched on Halloween 1969 with Leonard’s opening despite the mall being under construction. The parking and traffic flow was curious and under-thought given the minimal entrance/exit access points. While Six Flags had a uniform and coordinated grand opening, the Forum 303 launched between September and December of 1971 as stores came on line unevenly. Other plans for the mall including a hotel and office space just never happened. With all of the A+ stores, major publicity, uniform starting date and the overall architectural design all going to the heavyweight Six Flags Mall, one wondered how the area could support this second chump mall to say nothing of the new malls also opened in 1971 — to the north in Irving and Hurst (Northeast Mall).

Within the mall was an attraction point: a six-screen multiplex cinema run by AMC starting on October 13, 1971. AMC had done great business in the area with its Dallas-based Northtown Mall Cinema 6. And one thing going for the new Forum 6 was that you couldn’t really miss the ticket booth which had a John Geoffrey Naylor two-ton four-sided sculpture of polished aluminum and plexiglass suspended with nearly invisible wires above it in the 40' ceiling height entrance area. A wild, matching ticket booth constructed of stainless steel and aluminum strips was built to aesthetically match the decor. The booth was detached but placed diagonally and adjacent to the theater. The sculpture and ticket booth made an impact on movie goers. Yet, with the Forum 303’s idiosyncrasies and lack of execution at its opening, nobody would blame AMC if it simply honored its ten-year lease and vacate the mall.

But AMC proved popular in part because it had six new film options compared to just two at nearby Six Flags and one at the nearby GCC Park Plaza. Midnight shows which would eventually include “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” added a cool element. Dillard’s proved to be a hit taking over Leonard’s, concerts drew crowds at the Forum amphitheater, a super arcade drew people, an ice skating rink was a nice touch, and Picadilly Cafeteria proved to be a winner for the mall. In fact, AMC re-upped for another 10-year lease and announced that it would build another six-screen theater holding 1,800 patrons as a standalone operation adjacent to the Forum along with a motor bank, restaurants and other retail to open in the Summer of 1980. It was actually General Cinema that was losing the fight as the theater would tack on three more cinemas in its substandard Six Flags location.

Potential trouble for the Forum 6 was around the corner as Loews had opened the Lincoln Square to the North, UA launched the Bowen to the southwest, AMC built its Green Oaks 8 to the southwest, and General Cinema would open an eight screener to the southwest. The economic tides were turning as Interstate 20 was being built opening in 1987 making a retail nexus in south Arlington. It was fortunate that the external six-screener didn’t happen as especially devastating to the AMC Forum was Homart Corp. which opted to build the Parks Mall opening in 1988. That mall would decimate foot traffic split amongst the two aging Arlington malls. Six Flags would counter with a $20 million facelift including the addition of a Dillard’s store. The Forum 303 would add a hastily-crafted Farmer’s Market.

Yet more competition for the movie dollar came along I-20 as Cinemark opening a megaplex in Grand Prairie in Nov. 1989. With most original tenant mall leases and re-ups coming due including Picadilly Cafeteria and the AMC Forum, the mall’s fortunes were fading at precisely the wrong time. Following the 20-year mark, the Forum Mall was heading toward greyfield status, a term for dying malls with vacant storefronts. Dillard’s downgraded its store to a clearance center but AMC re-upped again for ten years in 1991.

By 1993, the mall was on vapors and the FDIC overtook the mall. Never a good sign. The FDIC identified a new owner in Fuller/DDM. Film producer Bob Yari took on the mall in 1994 changing the name to the Forum Value Mall as Dillard’s Clearance Center and lesser independents moved into the plentiful empty spaces. The AMC property was looking dated and dying in a multiplex world. United Artists opened to the east with its Grand Prairie theater and to the west with its Eastchase theater. In 1997, the mall spent $3.5 million to convert to the Festival Marketplace, a bazaar concept with tiny vendor spaces for everything from computer repair to incense to car radios officially launching May 21, 1998 in hopes of masking the empty spaces. The Bazaar concept was like a hastily-crafted flea market and AMC – now facing yet more competition in the form of a nine-screen Cinemark Tinseltown inside of Six Flags Mall — would leave the building and anchor Service Merchandise shuttered. Certainly, the cinematic days were behind the Festival Marketplace. By decade’s end, the Festival Marketplace became the Festival Discount Mall and shedded even more stores including original tenants Picadilly Cafeteria and Montgomery Ward’s. The mall was now in greyfield status.

But to Yari’s credit, two different operators would take on the former AMC theater, simply chipping the AMC sign off of the theater and operating as the Forum 6. The theaters’ original AMC cupholders and seating would survive to the theater’s end. The operator of the independent Park Plaza would close up shop there on Feb. 28, 2002 and take on the Forum 6 as its last operator. The mall was no longer open seven days a week yet the cinema remained a seven-day-a-week operation. On certain weeknights, all of the parking lights in the complex and most of the mall lights were off but the theater was still functioning in almost unbelievable conditions. Parking lot potholes, abandoned graffiti-filled motor bank and store anchors, weeds in the parking lot, and totally faded parking lines were no match for the determined theater operation which continued as a first-run house despite the Cinemark competition up the road.

In October of 2004, the air conditioning system failed at the Festival Discount Mall and the owners just didn’t want to spend the money to repair it. Dillard’s Clearance Center would move out choosing the also-dying Six Flags Mall and when the warm weather came at the end of May 2005, everyone was told to pack up and go. They were given a mere five days’ notice. And of course that was the end of the entire mall including the Forum 6 cinema.

Or was it? Almost unbelievably, the Forum 6 brought in a portable air conditioning system and, despite a condemned mall property, somehow soldiered on now with no parking lights on at night. A bizarre situation akin to the struggles of the Fox Theatre in Toledo’s Woodville Mall if not other dying malls. The phone’s message featured a warning at its tag, “We’re going to be forced to close soon, so please come on over.” And weeks stretched to months as the very lightly trafficked theater limped to its closure on August 18, 2005 with “The Dukes of Hazzard”, “Sky High”, “The Island”, “Stealth”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and “Bad News Bears”.

In the final chapter, just outside the AMC Forum, six piles of theater chairs and AMC cupholders were respectfully placed in the decrepit parking lot representing each of the auditoriums. Also in the pile was anything metal including 35mm film rewinders and other equipment. The failure fence told the story as the faded mall was demolished including Looper’s original airplane fin skylights and the Forum 6 theaters. While Cinemark won the heavyweight battle at Six Flags Mall, that mall would also shutter virtually every other store other than Dillard’s Clearance store due, in part, to a failed air conditioning system (it would relaunch in 2014 as the Plaza Central). How the Forum cinema survived 34 years is something of a mystery. But in this fight, the Forum proved to be a plucky contender.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Palace Theater on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm

D.L. Wood opened the Palace Theater late in 1913. The theater at the southwest corner of what were Main and Mechanic streets in Plano was open seven-days-a-week through its entire run with a Saturday matinees. The advertisements proclaim that the theater was cooled with “plenty of electric fans.” That was good because the only other theater in town was an aerodome to the north which was an outdoors operation. The theater was sold to O.B. Hancock who made many improvements to the facility. The theater’s continuous lifespan appears to be exactly 40 years with advertisements running in the Plano Star-Courier from 1914 to 1953. Ads cease after the December 2, 1953 showing of Kiss Me, Kate which times out to two 20-year lease cycles . Ads resume in the mid-1950s and cease again. On August 18, 1957, W.R. Petty reopened the Palace and ads continue through 1961.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Six Flags Cinema 1-5 on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:56 am

he General Cinema Corp.’s (GCC) Six Flags Mall Cinema I & II was announced late in 1969 to be located in the Village adjacent to the Six Flags Mall at the confluence of highways 80 and 360. It would open with the rest of the mall on August 5, 1970. It opened with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It would be GCC’s second Arlington theater with its nearby GCC Park Plaza Cinema which had opened in May of 1966. The Six Flags theater’s identical 350 seat auditoria had push-back chairs, automated projection equipment, special smoking sections, and an art gallery in the lobby. The mall was planned by veteran shopping center group Homart Development which had an exterior GCC at its Seminary South shopping center and would have exterior GCC theaters at its Town East Mall in Mesquite four years later and also at the Parks Mall in Arlington late in the 1980s. Six Flags’ external shopping area was called “The Village” and the theater could be seen from the northern doors of Sanger-Harris and Sears. A night out at the GCC Six Flags I-II might have also included a low-priced steak dinner at the neighboring York Steak House.

The mall got competition from the Forum 303 mall less than three miles away and the General Cinema. While that mall was underwhelming on a variety of levels, it did feature an interior and superior six-screen AMC theater opening on October 13, 1971. AMC signed a 10-year lease and did such great business with first-run fare and midnight shows that it re-upped for another 10-years and was supposed to build an additional six-screen theater adjacent to the Forum Mall. Fortunately for GCC Six Flags, that project was scrapped. Some of the theater’s biggest hits were “The Godfather,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

General Cinema faced pressure from six-screen multiplexes with both its Town East and Six Flags properties. In both situations, the theaters were retrofitted to become five screen properties. Town East got a poorly executed five-screen shoehorned into its existing space while Six Flags got extra space to tack on the additional screens. Fortunately for Mesquite moviegoers, Town East was then retrofitted to be an improved five-screen experience while the Six Flags Cinema I-V simply coasted to its end at the end of its 20-year lease in August of 1990. AMC would re-up for another lease at the Forum Mall.

The timing of GCC’s departure was curious as the mall, itself, was just completing a major expansion and redesign to compete with the new Parks Mall. But with General Cinemas opening its more modern Arlington Park Square 8 just across the street from the Parks in 1986, the circuit turned its attention there leaving behind both the Park Plaza and Six Flags. The Six Flags cinema became home to short-lived live projects including some wrestling events but for the most part look sad, empty and decrepit over the next 25 years. And fortunately for the Six Flags Mall, the March 28, 1997 launch of the nine-screen Tinseltown USA brought movies back to the Six Flags Mall even after the mall, itself, closed and then re-launched under a different name.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Tinseltown USA on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:33 pm

For twenty years, the Six Flags Mall had an external twin-screen turned five-screen General Cinema Theater that competed with the nearby AMC Forum 6 at the same-era Forum 303 Mall. As Arlington grew, theaters sprouted up everywhere: Loews opened the Lincoln Square to the North, UA launched the Bowen to the southwest, AMC built its Green Oaks 8 to the southwest, and General Cinema would open an eight screener to the southwest. As the 1980s concluded, Six Flags Mall was being challenged by the new Parks Mall in Arlington just to the Southwest and had to take action.

The economic tides were turning as Interstate 20 was helping to create a retail nexus in south Arlington entering the 1990s. Six Flags had a major expansion and remodel in 1990 to compete against the Parks. Unfortunately, the veteran General Cinema Six Flags left as the remodel was happening, As more theaters came online including two in Grand Prairie to the southeast, Cinemark stepped in and announced a theater in 1996 which would open in March 28, 1997. The 45,000-square-foot addition to the shopping center would be christened as the Cinemark Tinseltown USA Six Flags Mall 9.

Opening with Selena, Jerry Maguire; Return of the Jedi; Liar, Liar; Jungle 2 Jungle; Donnie Brasco; and The English Patient, the theater boosted optimism for the twenty year old mall. In terms of moviegoing, AMC would leave the Forum which was a shot in the arm to the Tinseltown. When AMC announced a megaplex to be added to the interior of the Parks Mall, Six Flags Mall countered with a $25 million expansion plan including skating rink, free-standing restaurants and expansion of Six Flags’ Cinemark from 9 to 14 screens with an additional 18,639 square fee added.

But Six Flags Mall would go into a nosedive along with the neighboring former Forum turned Festival Mall. Six Flags shedded stores then anchors heading toward greyfield status – a term akin to a dead mall. Tinseltown’s expansion from 9 to 14 screens was featured on the mall directory but never became reality nor did the other promised changes. Penney’s, Foley’s, Sears, and Dillards – the primary four anchors – all left with Dillards returning with a low-priced outlet store. The Festival would be closed in May of 2005 which may have prolonged the agony facing the Six Flags Mall. Attempts to revive the Penney’s anchor met with failure and the mall flailed. Yet, despite Six Flags obvious-to-all forthcoming demise, Cinemark just kept drawing huge crowds in the ghost town mall.

As the 2010s opened, Six Flags Mall was toast. The air conditioning failed and all of the stores in the middle were closed and access was only allowed to the food court, cinema, and Dillards anchor. In December of 2012, Six Flags Mall was sold to Noble Crest which renamed the mall, “Plaza Central,” a lackluster effort to convert the space to a vibrant Hispanic mall. As of the mid-2010s, the mall had reopened but was a surreal shopping experience in which anyone could walk through the closed stores and make a deal to launch a store at a bargain leasing rate. Using low-cost first-run pricing, Cinemark shrugged off the disaster that was the Six Flags Mall / Plaza Central in its infancy and continued to pack in crowds. An odd success in a wildly unsuccessful shopping center. And as of 2015, the circuit still hadn’t acknowledged the Six Flags Mall name change to Plaza Central as the new mall owners struggled mightily to create an inviting shopping experience.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Angelika Film Center & Cafe at Mosaic on Apr 20, 2015 at 7:56 am

The fourth Angelika outside of New York was designed by veteran art cinema architect Frank Dagdagan. Angelika called this theater more refined though the “bohemian aesthetic” was still present with raw materials, wood floor at the first level, exposed concrete floor at the second level and exposed ceilings. Furniture and artwork still maintain the attitude of Angelika sought in both design and film selection.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Magnolia Theater on Apr 20, 2015 at 4:33 am

In 1998 and 1999, announcements that two new-build art theaters were coming to town in the Landmark West Village and the Angelika – Dallas at Mockingbird Station. Dallas had never had a new-build art cinema – though many converted spaces such as the UA Ciné and Silver Cinema’s Inwood Theater both of which were operating at the time of these announcements. This was exiciting despite the fact that the projects fell months and months behind schedule.

At the Landmark West Village, Landmark’s bankruptcy forced the project to stall out and was endangered. The Angelika Dallas at Mockingbird Station was delayed by bad weather but won the race with a grand opening on August 3, 2001. A week later, Magnolia Pictures – just founded then by Bill Banowsky and John Sughrue – would take on the moribund West Village theater project calling it The Magnolia. They would have an outlet for their own film releases and program other art and repertory films. Beck Group – known for many Cinemark theaters through the years – both architected and constructed the theater.

The Magnolia had its grand opening in January of 2002. The swanky second-floor bar well fit the West Village complex in which it was situated providing a revenue stream for the independent theater. It also had one DLP projector for digital screenings – one of only two DFW theaters to boast that technology at that time. This added flexibility to programatic options. And the fledgling circuit would add a second theater to its portfolio in Boulder, Colorado. Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban would found 2929 Pictures and in 2002 invested in Magnolia Pictures. Oaktree Capital took on the cash strapped Silver Cinema circuit allowing for $65,000 refurbishing of the Inwood and it competed with The Magnolia for runner-up arthouse destination to the Angelika’s supremacy.

Wagner and Cuban’s 2929 would buy out Landmark Theatres circuit in October of 2003 giving them an outlet for their films while giving Landmark a much larger cash infusion. The Inwood Theater v. The Magnolia battle would end a month later. In November of 2003, Landmark Theatres acquired Magnolia Pictures and The Magnolia became a Landmark Theatre. This was ironic since the Magnolia started as a Landmark project only to be abandoned by them. The Inwood would get another makeover and eventually repositioned as a first-run house though continuing repertory midnight shows.

In 2005, the theater circuit was first to try “day and date” releases with films opening simultaneously on the Internet and in limited releases in theaters. It would mix in major mainstream releases especially in the summer to draw audiences. In October of 2012, it would gravitate to digital projection in all five theaters with upgraded digital sound. Also new leather-style seats with expanded row widths and leg room along with new carpet and flooring, wall coverings, and expanded gourmet concessions items at the snack bar. As of the mid-2010s, the theater had aged very well remaining a popular spot within Uptown Dallas.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about United Cinema Nakama 16 on Apr 19, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Cinema architect Frank Dagdagan created three Japan theaters and one Hong Kong location for AMC Entertainment International including this entry for the circuit’s second theater in Japan, the AMC Nakama 16. The 16-screen, 57,000 square foot theatre was designed with 2,600-seats and at the time of opening was the largest theatre in Japan. Located at the Daiei-Nakama shopping center groundbreaking was late in 1997 with an opening in November 1998.

The auditorium design gave moviegoers an unobstructed view of the screen and had the AMC LoveSeats with retractable cupholder armrests. All auditoriums will feature Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) and the High Impact Theatre System (HITS) with compound-curved screens. The AMC Canal City 13 theatre in Fukuoka, Japan, was the first AMC theater in Japan theater launching in April 1996.

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Angelika Film Center on Apr 19, 2015 at 3:33 pm

In 1998 and 1999, announcements that two new-build art theaters were coming to town in the Landmark West Village and the Angelika – Dallas at Mockingbird Station. Dallas had never had a new-build art cinema – though many converted spaces such as the UA Ciné and Silver Cinema’s Inwood Theater both of which were operating at the time of these announcements. And the Anglelika was in good hands with veteran art cinema architect Frank Dagdagan who had done the circuit’s first Texas theater in Houston.

So this was exiciting despite the fact that the projects fell months and months behind schedule. At Mockingbird Station, the $100 million, 10-acre business plus living concept was delayed by bad weather. At the Landmark West Village, Landmark’s bankruptcy forced the project to stall out and was endangered. The Angelika finally had a soft launch on July 27, 2001 with Deep Ellum Film, Music, Arts and Noise Inc. (DEFMAN) presenting free screenings of independent films, “George Washington” and “L.I.E.” The theater then had more free soft launch screenings until it grand opening on August 3, 2001. The theater’s film experience was an instant success and spelled doom for the nearby UA Ciné as well as the Granada Theater.

In addition to art cinema, the theater hosted many major film festivals including USA Film Festival, USA Kidfest, Jewish Film festival screenings, Dallas International Film Festival, Dallas Black Film Festival, and Vistas Hispanic film festival among them.

Downstairs, however, the downstairs cafe by Lisa Kelley featuring risotto cakes , pounded pork medallions and sautéed chicken breast didn’t click with the audience and would soon be downgraded to coffee bar and prepared sandwiches and desserts. Kelley left in less than four months and another chef tried without much success to make the theater a restauarant. And more competition for the art cinema dollar came when new buyers took on the flatlined Landmark West Village opening as the Magnolia Theater in January of 2002. And Angelika would open a West Plano theatre within the DFW market. As of the mid-2010s, all three theaters were operating as full-time art cinemas.