Comments from TheaterBuff1

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TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 4, 2006 at 2:59 am


The architect who designed the Mayfair and Tyson was David Supowitz, not Sopowitz. Sorry about the typo!

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 4, 2006 at 2:44 am

If you have firsthand familiarity with the GCC Northeast you most certainly wouldn’t expect the story of that theater to have played out any differently than it had. Not only was it never ever a classy theater, but it was designed so poorly that there’s no possible way it could ever be transformed to be. Have you ever known anyone who, no matter how hard they tried, could never possibly hope to be a singer? Well, the same exact thing could be said architectually of whoever designed that theater. To list that theater in an intelligent discussion of Northeast Philadelphia theaters would be the same as attempting to discuss Andrea Bocelli, William Hung, Placido Domingo and Luciano Paveratti in the same breath. That is, if Northeast Philadelphia theaters are going to be discussed intelligently, the GCC Northeast cannot even be mentioned.

At the opposite extreme, the Holme/Pennypack, Mayfair and Tyson Theatres are significant works of art which are forced to be otherwise given the hands they’re currently in. They’re part of the other Northeast Philadelphia that few people, not even the top experts in Center City, even know about.

As for the Devon Theatre, while that, too, is not in the same league as those other three, I believe it will make for a half decent live performing arts theater when its restoration is completed — whenever that will be. But as theater buildings go it is not all that valuable architecturally. With those other three, however, we’re basically talking “Cinderella,” though it’s hard to tell it right now with all the “chimney soot” they’re currently caked under.

“Works of art” theaters are distinguished by the fact that if they’re torn down they cannot be replaced. As is true with all genuine works of art, they have a life and soul within them, and unto themselves, so much so that, when they get demolished, the crime of this is right up there with murder itself. And it all has to do with their being so irreplaceable once they’re gone. And when they’re misused — which is how I feel it is right now — I place it in the same league as slavery itself. And why not, given the fact that the Holme/Pennypack Theatre WAS designed by William Harold Lee and the Mayfair and Tyson Theatres WERE designed by David Sopowitz, both men ranking very high among the 20th century’s top movie theater architects — as this Cinema Treasures website will readily confirm. Can we allow business and politics to overshadow that fact?

We think of Northeast Philadelphia right now over all as being this easily writable off wasteland, yet without knowing all the actual facts about it. We see it this way now due to its current very beat up state and the lack of recognition it rightfully deserves. And with few if any fighting for the soul of it. To the artists of Center City, Northeast Philadelphia, with all its architectural and other wealth, is but a world unknown, an untapped but exciting new frontier for them — provided that aspect doesn’t all get totally destroyed by the time they do learn of it. And to be sure there are many people in Northeast Philadelphia, in positions of power in Northeast Philadelphia but who are not actually of it, who are quite fiercely determined to see that they and the architectural experts of Center City — and elsewhere — never do learn of it, that it can fully be destroyed with sprawl and other poorly thought out unscrupulous development by the time they finally do learn of it.

As for the bank that’s going to be taking over the Mayfair Theatre building making money, that is yet to be seen, just as is true of the new stores that will be filling out the mini mall the Holme/Pennypack Theatre building is currently being converted into. For the Eckerds Pharmacy that previously occupied the Mayfair Theatre building clearly wasn’t making any money, nor was the Daley’s Furniture and Appliance Store that previously occupied the Holme/Pennypack Theatre building. As for the furniture store that currently occupies the Tyson Theatre building, that does look like it’s doing well, and that might actually be the case, but not necessarily. Outward appearances can be very deceiving. For who knew just how much the Eckerds Pharmacy was hurting in its last days? To everyone, including me, its closing came as a sudden and unexpected surprise. And that could just as easily happen in the Tyson Theatre building’s case, or not, who really knows right now?

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 3, 2006 at 4:56 am

Every single one of the area theater buildings Northeast Philadelphia has could be restored as theaters. And most certainly this would be a lot less expensive than building an all new one from the ground level up. And I’m talking about restoring them as single screen theaters, of course. For forget multiplexes! Gahhhhhh! And what’s stopping it from happening? Several things, the biggest thing of all being that Northeast Philadelphia, because it is part of Philadelphia, is under Center City Philadelphia’s oppressive political thumb, and Center City has other ideas for this part of the city — really really stupid ideas I might add, given how beautiful this part of the city could be otherwise. Center City Philadelphia is currently governing Northeast Philadelphia with knowing next to nothing about it. Thus it’s governing Northeast Philadelphia very colonialistically. Whenever it’s called upon for help in exchange for all the taxes Northeast Philadelphia pays to it, it takes the wrong side always. It never misses a mark. In essence Northeast Philadelphia is Center City’s “whipping boy.” and at present Northeast Philadelphia is taking it all sitting down. If that changes and Northeast Philadelphia decides to fight for Northeast Philadelphia, don’t worry, I can assure you our historic theater buildings up here WILL be restored as classy neighborhood movie theaters once more. I’ll see to it personally!

TheaterBuff1 commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Mar 3, 2006 at 3:22 am

So what is the latest on the AMC Orleans? Is it now an is or was?

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Mar 2, 2006 at 5:01 am

David Supowitz also designed two other Northeast Philadelphia theaters of note — the Tyson at Castor and Tyson Avenues and the Crest on Rising Sun Avenue several blocks below Cottman.

The former Tyson Theatre is now a furniture store, and as buildings go is well maintained and appears to be in excellent shape. The Crest Theatre, meantime, I believe had been torn down.

Of all these three theaters Supowitz designed up here, the Mayfair was by far the best. It had to be, given the prominance it was given when the all new Mayfair was built!

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 2, 2006 at 4:31 am

Since the Devon Theatre of the future is to be for live performances only, the issue of digital — or 3D for that matter — is not to be a worry. But what the Devon will have to worry about are all the questionable new developments occuring around it, whether it be Tacony Pointe or whatever else. Which is what I’ve been looking at in addition to the possibilities of various area theaters being restored. By rights, before anything positive gets introduced around here, these things should get resolved first. For how will the Devon play out if this isn’t done? And right now, rather than these other issues — which will have an impact on the Devon — being resolved properly, it’s just the opposite. It’s the same as saying that building an amphitheater on the deck of the Titanic is a great idea….but just when it’s striking the iceberg?

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Mar 1, 2006 at 5:26 am

Ah, now that’s something I never knew, that it had live performances there other than the Easter services I recall from my early childhood. For being as it doesn’t have a stage house (maybe it did at one time?) it seems it would’ve been very limited. Also, did it have a green room, dressing rooms, wardrobe rooms, and a prop storage room? Also possibly a loading dock in back at one time? And to the best of my memory I can’t recall any traces of a onetime orchestra pit. I will say though that the more we talk about this the more I miss it as having been such a classy movie theater so close by! Back in yesteryear we all just took it for granted! And not in a careless, wreckless way, but in simply that was just the norm. And I can’t recall ever seeing any movie there that wasn’t perfect for seeing at that theater, whether it was “Jason & the Argonauts,” “The Agony & the Ecstasy,” “Fantastic Voyage,” “Planet of the Apes,” “The War Wagon.” “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid,” “To Sir With Love,” and so on. It just seemed to be so versatile in that regard. Which is why it’s so hard to understand how it could ever have possibly folded.

Anyhow, anything new on how the bank that’s taken it over plans to transform it? I hope they don’t alter it too much, because I believe a day will come — though perhaps not right now — that it could become a movie theater again. But before it can happen, Mayfair must make up its mind who it is first. At one time that community was a very fixed thing. Then it went into transition, and it’s still in this phase to a large degree. But as the babyboomers get older and want to settle down in one place once and for all, at that point I expect Mayfair to stablize once more. So I guess we’ll see how it is come then…

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Mar 1, 2006 at 4:33 am

Those who manufacture digital cinema projectors for Texas Instruments have deals where they cover the full financing of a theater’s switching over to digital. Of course, there’s a good reason for this, because it is still very experimental. Many theater operators are afraid of making the switchover otherwise, which in many ways I think is a fear of a repeat of what happened with Betamax v. VHS. And in Hollywood there’s ongoing disputes as to what should become the industry standard, especially with Sony and others coming forth with digital projection systems not compatable with Texas Instruments'. Add to this that if LED and plasma screen technology develops more it could well do away with the need for a projector completely, though that’s still a long ways down the road. What I’d like to see is something similar to how PanaVision works it. With PanaVision, you can’t buy their equipment, only lease it. But at least with this you’re guaranteed a constant upgrade when it’s needed.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Feb 28, 2006 at 3:22 am

A very good point you bring up. For being as I was just a little kid back in the late 1950s and ‘60s, I have no memories of what the adult admission price at the Mayfair Theatre was, and I apologize for that oversight on my part. Perhaps TheaterBuff3 can remember since he was a year or so older than me.

By the way, does anybody remember when the Redeemer Lutheran Church (where I was baptised, incidentally) held its annual Easter service every year at the Mayfair Theatre? When they held their Easter services there, there were three crosses on stage with special lighting for added dramatic effect and a fiery Pastor Bertrum (the man who baptised me) preaching the sermon. As I understand it, they had to hold their special services there on Easter because the church up on Ryan Avenue wasn’t big enough to hold them all. And the turnouts for this as I recall were huge. Anyway, this is just a bit more trivia I thought I should add to the Mayfair Theatre page.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Feb 28, 2006 at 2:50 am

And now comes digital cinema to shake the industry up again, while I find it very curious that there are no digital theaters in Philadelphia as of yet. Perhaps the man who’s in charge of restoring a certain downtown movie palace, and who I’d rather not name, can explain this to us.

As for the Devon, I think it should become a live performance theater exclusively and forget about showing movies completely. Showing movie in this area should be reserved for the Mayfair and Pennypack Theatres if: A) By some miracle they survive (the Mayfair’s currently being remade into a bank and the Pennypack into a mini mall); B) The insanity that’s now governing (and overshadowing) Philadelphia at some point dissipates.

With the Devon being a live performance theater and the Mayfair and Pennypack being movie theaters, I think the three would be very complementary of one another. But we’re in a major storm right now, so my saying this is bit like saying the front entrance of the beachfront hotel should be here, and the health/fitness center over to that side, and the outdoor amphitheater over there, while Katrina is bashing the coast full force. Though the ideas are totally practical, there is a right time and a wrong time to try to make them a reality.

Meantime, motion pictures exhibited in a well-run theater I see as the inherant successor to live stage, meaning that it would make perfect sense for the Devon to become a live performance theater for right now but without any movie theaters around in close proximity for the time being. Going by how successfully the Pennypack Bandshell was brought back to life, I have every faith that those currently in charge of restoring the Devon Theatre to become a live performance theater can pull it off. But movie theaters coming back to this area will all have to come later, and, of course, that’s only if the Mayfair and Pennypack Theatres can survive the current blitzkreig. And who can predict when that will finally subside? I’m not going to try to, but others can attempt it if they so wish.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Feb 27, 2006 at 2:55 am


Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, which is when I recall the Mayfair Theatre operating at its very best, the concession stand prices weren’t high at all. And I can remember admission being only 50 cents! Don’t ask me how they did it, but somehow they did. And add to this that the crowds were always very well behaved. The much higher prices on everything all came later, along with the unruliness and evident signs of wear and tear.

Which reminds mr, TheaterBuff3, do you recall exactly where you and I saw “Amadeus” together? I remember the movie, but I can’t pinpoint where we saw it. Was it downtown, the Fox perhaps? I know 1984 was a long time ago, but try to think back and see if you can remember.

As for “Spartacus, I never saw it, but it seems I can remember your telling me you saw it at the Mayfair back around 1960 or so.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Feb 27, 2006 at 2:25 am

One thing that stands out so distinctly in my memory is that I saw Raiders at the Devon not long after having seen “Dead and Buried” either at the Tyson or Crest, and being how I was so totally put off by “Dead and Buried” and the other rash of totally senseless horror films that came pouring out of Hollywood at that time, feeling so grateful to Stephen Spielberg for demonstrating with his “Raiders of the Lost Ark” that great filmmaking was still very much alive and well. It was also reassuring that when I saw “Dead and Buried” just a small handful of people were in attendance, but with Raiders showing at the Devon it was just totally packed with people. Both films, incidentally, were released in 1981, so given that it was probably in 1981 that I saw Raiders there, for I seriously doubt that “Dead and Buried” was rereleased in area theaters. As I recall, that horror movie pretty much marked the end of James Farantino’s career and was a very sad last film for Jack Albertson to have made right before his death.

Other great movies I saw at the Devon, by the way, were “The Eye of the Needle” (1981) and “The Elephant Man” (1980). And they had fairly good crowds. But Raiders no doubt was custom made for the Northeast Philadelphia movie going audience, as the huge crowds it drew truly attested to. And that audience is still there, I believe. It just needs the right films is all…and, of course, a theater to see them at!

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Feb 26, 2006 at 4:05 am

Jack, although it was quite a long time ago and I can’t remember all the details specifically, I can’t see why I would have gone to see Raiders at the Devon if I could’ve seen it at the Mayfair, which, of course, was a much nicer theater. According to what I can recall, the Devon was doing very well because it was the last theater in Mayfair still in operation. Or…maybe I did choose to see Raiders at the Devon over seeing it at the Mayfair simply because of the much lower admission cost as you mention. Like I say, when we’re talking that long ago it’s hard to remember the specifics, or at least in my case simply as a customer. But since you were directly involved with the Devon during that era, I’ll take your word that it wasn’t doing all that well. Also, I’m pretty sure when I saw Raiders there it cost me $2 admission, if that indicates anything.

Incidentally, looking at the here and now, at the all new Mayfair Community Center that bears Perzel’s name I see that they’re planning to run movies in some fashion. It won’t be quite the same as full movie theater going experience, of course, but, it will be interesting to see just how popularly it catches on.

As for Mayfair the way it is right now over all, in all fairness to the man who’s currently trying to restore the Devon, it is a very rough place to do business at this moment, meaning that if I myself tried running a business there the way it is right now, others would probably be posting comments at this website and elsewhere saying how “reptilian” I seem to be!

As for the taxes they still had to pay on the Devon after it fell on hard times, politically speaking they should have been given a major break on this, though the case would’ve been much better made had it been with regards to the Mayfair Theatre, which is Mayfair’s major centerpiece after all. If the Devon does eventually reopen as a live performance theater I hope at the least that it will operate tax-free (presuming it’s to be a nonprofit.) Because otherwise it’s going to be a long time in coming before it eventually gets its purchase and restoration costs paid off, if ever. For don’t forget that with live performance theater heavy advertising on the part of the theater itself is an absolute must if it’s to be successful. Movie theaters on the other hand, so long as they’re showing top line movies, never have to worry about that.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Feb 26, 2006 at 2:55 am

Uh, yes, and who, pray tell, might you be, TheaterBuff3? Also, I’d be very curious to know who TheaterBuff2 is. So hey, TheaterBuff2 if you’re out there somewhere reading this, please feel free to jump in and add your comments if you wish as well!

Meantime, just to demonstrate some of my wondrous power of super-human insight, it’s not too hard to figure out from that last message posted, going by the time when it was posted, precisely who TheaterBuff3 is. So hello there, Solieri (presuming you saw “Amadeaus” and thus know just what I mean by that)… :)

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Feb 25, 2006 at 3:44 am

Although I’m totally certain there wasn’t any correlation, I can recall how back when it had been a porno theater no one thought twice about it, and it didn’t seem to contribute to Mayfair’s demise in any way. I guess there was just too much positive stuff going on at that time for the Devon Thestre as a porno house to matter much to anyone. It was all very much live and let live back in that era, a much freer and happy go lucky period in Mayfair’s history as it were. And rather than the Devon closing down as porno theater due to any sort of neighborhood protests it more seemed to be the case that it wasn’t getting enough business to stay open. For I never went there when it was that, nor did I know anyone else who did. Later, when it reopened as a regular theater, I went there regularly, and the times I went it was doing especially well. I went to see “Raiders of the Lost Ark” there, and this when that movie was no longer a first run. And the theater was doing so well that night that I and hundreds of others had to wait outside the theater till the earlier showing was over and the theater was fully cleared of those who came to see the earlier showing before we could then get in to see the movie. And afterwards we then all had to clear out of the theater so that the next crowd after that could get in to see it! And this, as I say, for a movie that was no longer first run mind you!

Then came along the reptilian type businessmen (or whatever you prefer to call them), who were well organized, and suddenly everything in Mayfair started changing for the worse. Well meaning, honest businessmen who genuinely cared about their customers got cast aside by whatever means of hook and crook, and suddenly shopping in Mayfair or going there for entertainment became a very ugly experience. And the only reason why this new breed of businessmen was able to endure from what I can tell is because they were kept afloat by the Pennsylvania taxpayers who really had no say in the matter, and who continue not to.

To run a theater and to run it well, you have to be able to love people, just as it’s true to run any business successfully. And the Mayfair of old very much thrived on that principle. But nowadays we don’t have that principle going on in Mayfair really. Rather, it’s people who would be much better off in jail or six feet under running everything, and with the taxpayer being given no choice but to constantly keep them afloat. All told, I wish this could be left up to the free market decide once again. For as I say, the Devon Theatre obviously was doing very well before the CDC and whatever else came along. And whenever politics appears quite relevant to why a theater shuts down, I think it should be discussed here at this website as well as elsewhere rather than dismissed as you suggest.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Feb 24, 2006 at 4:05 am

I met the man who’s in charge of restoring the Devon Theatre when I took a walking tour of Holmesburg’s main consumer business district with Fred Moore, the president of the Holmesburg Civic Association, last September 2005). And based on that brief moment I had in meeting him I can pretty much advise all of you not to have too high expectations if and when it ever reopens as a live performing arts theater. As I recall, it was a hot, summer like day, yet the man who’s in charge of restoring the Devon, whose name totally escapes me now (not that it matters), was wearing a long sleeved dress shirt and tie! I mean, talk about hokey! Not only that, but his whole thinking was totally in terms of money. In brief, it was easy to see after just a few words I had with him that he didn’t have an innovative bone in his body. As I watched his lips move as he conversed with Fred, I couldn’t help but think, if anyone meets the definition of being a reptilian it was clearly him! All told, the entire encounter was totally creepy!

Later on last Autumn, when I rode my bike down to Mayfair to take some digital photos of the Devon Theatre (still all closed up of course, and no surprises there) I saw a sign at its main entrance saying words to the effect that this theater was being brought to you by Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel. And the sign might just as well have gone on to say, “So don’t hold your breath!”

This is not to say that the Devon Theatre building couldn’t become a classy neighborhood live performance theater. But there’s just no way that could be possible — at least in terms of its being CLASSY — with those two men, the man in charge of restoring it who I met back in September plus John Perzel, being major players.

It also needs to be noted that the $740,000.00 that it was purchased for in June 2004 was waaaaaay too high! Had it been sold on the open market it never could’ve commanded that high a price. In this case, however, the Pennsylvania taxpayers, having little to no say in the matter, got bilked to the tune of that amount. And I wouldn’t at all be surprised if I found out that John Perzel and family were the owners of the Devon Theatre building when it was sold for that lunatically high amount, quite similar to the scandal surrounding the history of the New Foundations Charter School, uh, which all of you know about, right?

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Feb 24, 2006 at 2:52 am

What the Mayfair Theatre building in its closed up state today says loud and clear is that this Mayfair community in Northeast Philadelphia today is overwhelmingly dominated by some of this stupidest people ever slither from mothers' wombs, with proof positive of what I’m saying being instantly seeable in the remarks of the last three commentators. But to see what I’m saying, you DO have to be intelligent. And clearly that’s not Howard B. Haas, a man who has charge of Philadelphia’s last movie palace but is at a total loss on how to restore it properly despite all the intelligent advice he has been given in this regard, hdtv267, who is too low I.Q.d to grasp the satire of and appreciate the humor when someone calls a Cold Stone Creamery a Stone Cold Crematory, and finally, Jack Ferry, the one of the three above commentators who totally surprised me. For Jack, you’re one of the three commentators above who at least knew the Mayfair Theatre building back when it was still in opertion as movie theater. However, it’s a shame you never got to experience it back when it was in its prime, that is, back when Northeast Philly residents like me were in the vast majority around here. The years when you worked there was when lowlifes from Kensington began overtaking the Northeast, led by the unintelligent leadership provided by the Mayor Frank Rizzo, Councilwoman Joan Krajewski and others. All told it was a very sad time indeed, as all this territory up here had been so beautiful prior to then. But boy, did those inner city lowlifes flooding up into here overwhelm it and bring it down in a hurry! In brief, I think of that 1980s movie “Gremlins” as the perfect allegory of what it had been like.

Anyway, the remarks the three of you made may play well with those with very low I.Q.s, but trust me, guys, nobody with any intelligence would be swayed by them.

And if it wasn’t bad enough converting the classic Mayfair Theatre to a drug store to symbolize just how intelligent the Mayfair community had become, at least in terms of its majority, now we’re really seeing unintelligence coming at NE Philly to the max full throttle with the latest proposal being to convert it to a bank. For seriously folks! This is just so totally laughable! And how is that those of you who support this proposal are not just totally embarrassed by your absolute stupidity? For it just can’t get any dumber than that, can it?

TheaterBuff1 commented about Castor Theatre on Feb 7, 2006 at 7:08 am

I was by the Castor Theatre building just the other day and it’s in excellent shape. The furniture store that’s in that theater building now looks like it’s doing well, but then again looks can be deceiving. It also looks to be a building that’s much bigger than its having had merely 446 seats back when it was in operation as a theater. Also it should be noted it’s at Castor & Tyson, not Fanshawe. That is, unless there had been another theater at Castor & Fanshawe and the theater I’m describing here had been the Tyson Theatre and not the Castor. For I know there had been a Tyson Theatre, I used to see it listed all the time in the old Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper back when I was growing up. In any event, whether it was the Castor or the Tyson, I’m happy to report the theater building at Castor & Tyson looks to be in excellent shape, albeit it’s now being a well-maintained furniture store.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mark Cuban asks "What business are theaters in?" on Feb 4, 2006 at 1:04 am

The movie theaters that came into existence after the Crash of ‘29 and how they were run were a universe different from those before the Crash. And the movie theaters that came into being after World War II and how they were run were a whole lot different than those which flourished throughout the Great Depression and WWII years. And it’s not as if everything right here and now is written in stone and is to be of permanance here ever after. The Beatles began their careers in Hamburg, Germany in the late 1950s. But they sure as heck couldn’t have in Hamburg or any other part of Germany 20 years or so before then. And whoever became a success in Germany when the Nazi Third Reich reigned over it, became branded with that success as a black mark against them after the Third Reich was brought down. Which German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and others can well attest to.

Which is to say…

Anyone who’s having a really difficult if not impossible time operating or launching a well-run movie theater in this particular era we’re living in right now should take that to heart. Meaning that if you’re getting a whole lot of resistence towards your efforts, it probably means you’re doing all the right things, but it’s probably not the most fitting place or time to try to do them. But the right time is coming. But it’s not here yet. And even Mark Cuban, with all his wealth, his pull, his influence, must respect that, too.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mark Cuban asks "What business are theaters in?" on Feb 2, 2006 at 1:49 am

The movie theater business is such that it puts forth this illusion that it could be made much much better, and very easily at that. And from the looks of things Mark Cuban is the latest to having just fallen victim to that. But the movie theater experience is a creature unto itself. And it has its own set of terms that everybody, no matter who it is, must fully respect if it’s to be at its best.

We can stage the perfect movie theater experience, having actors behave as we want everyday people to. But in a real theater situation, if people are putting forth their own money to come out to see a movie, if they can’t get to be who they are naturally while in that setting, well, there goes the motivation to go out to see a movie in the first place. And a theater operator can either balk at this and wind up not having any patrons at all, or he can run the theater in such a way so that everything falls in place the way he wants it to of its own accord. Case in point, I can remember being in theaters of the past where I acted just as those running the theater wanted me to, but yet where I felt like I was totally being myself at the same time and not under any unfair or unnatural restraints. And rather than it working out this way because I was adhering to a certain set of rules, it was a case where there weren’t any rules, just be yourself is all, yet everything came together the right way regardless. Yet not due to any total laxity on the theater operators' part, which is the totally other way of driving theater patrons away. All those theaters of the past I remember were very well-run. And at the time it looked so easy, and perhaps it was for those theater operators who understood that theaters — that is, real theaters — are entities unto themselves. They’re real life situations, not movies in strict accordance to script.

And Mark Cuban appears to be starting off on the right foot when he points out that many theater operators have forgotten what business they’re in. And that much is very easy to say. But for him to go from that to demonstrating first hand that he can run theaters better, he’s going to have to get past the big “Oh…” first so as to make his vision a reality — the big “Oh…” being accepting people on their own terms while making it all work out at the same time.

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mark Cuban asks "What business are theaters in?" on Feb 1, 2006 at 3:37 am

When the first theaters rose up, I wonder how many new theater owners of that era thought or worried about all that’s being pined over now?

For it just seems to me that this issue has been made far more complicated than it need be. For is it all that big a mystery to us what theater patrons are bound to like, whether having to do with the theater’s design or what movies get shown in it? Or what a fair admission price should be or how the staff should act with regard to the costumers?

If I go out to see a movie tonight, don’t I fully know ahead of time how I want it to be? The answer is, yes, I do. So what’s the difficulty of my turning that around so that I’m thinking in terms of my providing others with that? Whatever became of the simple straightforward golden rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

On some points I feel Mark Cuban is right, on others I disagree, but then, from my perspective, so what? He doesn’t own the patents on all theaters and how they must operate after all. Let him try whatever he feels is best, and if it succeeds, well, good for him, and if it fails well, that’s on him. And this is a good reason why the more theaters the better, provided each one can be run in whatever way its owner feels is best. That way whoever’s right can make a nice living giving people what they want, while those who have it all wrong can maybe learn a thing or two. And my only complaint is when theater operators, or those who aspire to become such, are blocked from being able to make a go of it however they feel is best. For that’s when it gets to be very Cain & Abel like.

When I go to a theater, I like to feel valued and welcomed. And not in exhange for the movie itself not being all that good. For that much is very important also. But for some theater operators even that’s asking too much. And what am I supposed to do about that other than to say, okay, if you’re unwilling to, how about I try my luck at it? And I shouldn’t have to add, “If that’s okay with you.” And that seems to be all that Mark Cuban seems to be telling us, and I don’t see why anybody should be upset with that. For he’s not trying to pass some new law or something that the rest of us will all have to strictly adhere to. If that were the case it would be very Cain & Abel, and it would make perfect sense for any of us to feel upset therefore, and in that instance I hope we all would. But right now’s not the time to be upset at all. We make things too complicated!

TheaterBuff1 commented about GCC Northeast 4 on Jan 28, 2006 at 6:54 am

To Howard B. Haas:

Actually what I really should’ve said in my earlier commentary above was that after the federal government moved its Northeast Philadelphia headquarters into the former GCC Northeast 4 building — along with all Philadelphia attorneys who practice Social Security Disability law — at that point it would make perfectly good sense to bring out the wrecking ball and go ahead and knock the whole building to the ground.

So thanks for bringing that to my attention as it did need greater clarification. :)

TheaterBuff1 commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jan 28, 2006 at 4:53 am

In response to the gentleman who currently heads up the organization to restore the Boyd — and whom I have nothing but the highest regards for for his having helped save it from demolition — now that the Boyd Theatre’s fate is in good hands as he’s been assuring us, I hope his group is doing everything it can to see that it gets the historic designation it rightfully deserves.

Meantime, the Orleans Theatre is a different type theater entirely, in that it holds sentimental rather than historic value. Add to this that it’s a sentimental value that exists at this moment almost entirely in memories of long long ago.

As long long ago demonstrated, it has the power to instill sentimental values, but only when run properly. And that has clearly not been the case with regard to the Orleans ever since it split itself up into smaller theaters.

But I think it would be very naive to try to suggest that if the Orleans original theater portion were to be spared the wrecking ball, restored to a single-screen theater once more, and run very well — that is, easily affordable ticket and concession stand prices, no commercials exhibited in addition to movies, a polite staff, and so on — that consumers would avoid that theater like it’s the plague. But to understand this, you have to be able to think like the consumer does. For there’s such a thing as taking supply-side economic theory too far. Do that, and the AMC Orleans 8 Theatre story as we’re seeing it now is the end result.

Unless they’re run as charities, unlike how it is with many other businesses, movie theaters cannot be run in and of themselves. And likewise they can be of little to no benefit to others when this is the case, whether it be to the City, Hollywood, or whoever. When left to totally fend for themselves, they become far more a detriment than a benefit.

And that’s exactly what we did see with the AMC Orleans 8 in most recent times.

But to go ahead and tear it down completely is not the right answer. Rather, we should look back to when it was a major asset, and then provide rational explanations why, if it were made that way again, it could not become such a major asset anew. For I argue that if it was made that way again that theater would do very very well. But it can’t become the theater it once was again if those who stand to benefit from its being operated in that way refuse to provide their fair support of it. To quote the man who currently heads up the organization restoring the Boyd, that is unrealistic. Whoever’s to benefit must pay their fair share. Otherwise, it’s clearly a no go.

Now whether it’s to be a Wal*Mart or a Target store that’s to be taking over that site, whoever it’s to be could foot the entire bill of restoring and covering its day-to-day operations in such a way so that on their behalf it could serve as a major showroom for their products, ranging from carpeting to tile to curtains to toilets to DVDs they sell of movies being exhibited there and so on and so forth. And it could all be done very tastefully. In fact, the more tastefully, the better for whichever retailer is taking over that site. And is what I’m suggesting realistic? Of course it’s realistic, but its success depends upon the intelligence level of whoever the retailer is going to be. For if that much is totally lacking then I would say yes, it’s unrealistic to suggest the Orleans can be saved. It’s fate will match up with the other Orleans of note…

TheaterBuff1 commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Jan 28, 2006 at 3:02 am

Ahem. Speaking as “the other gentleman,” presuming that I’m the one who’s being referred to above, in no instance have I ever requested that merchants, Hollywood, or the City carry the burden themselves. To quote a former U.S. president — who the above correspondant greatly admires — “There ya go again.”

But to give the full benefit of the doubt, I believe it’s far more a misunderstanding rather than an intentional misinterpretation. So to return things to accuracy, let me state here and now that my consistent argument all along is that if a theater is run well that all parties involved benefit. And I’ve only tried to say that if those who should benefit refuse to cooperate, it becomes very hard, if not impossible, for the theater to be of great benefit to those other parties. When Marie Antonette was told the peasants outside Versailles were starving because they were out of bread, she allegedly replied, “Let them eat cake.” In other words, she didn’t understand that those peasants whom she seemingly had no concern for were the very people who enabled she and others inside the palace to survive. And right now I see a very similar if not an identical disconnect between theater operators and the cities in which they operate, between the theaters and Hollywood, etc.

It is not my aim to see theaters run as though they are charities, but rather, as good, sound, solid investments. For without well-run theaters, Hollywood’s days are numbered. And I see time and time again where theaters are either shut down or not being run properly, the communities around these theaters looking very ghetto-like. And it does appear to be because the theaters are not getting their rightful share. To try to survive in the face of this, theater operators have no choice but to charge high ticket and concession stand prices, exhibit commercials in addition to movies, split themselves up into many smaller theaters, forego such things as curtains, underpay their staff and so on. And this, in turn, turns off otherwise avid theater patrons, making the dilemma all that much worse. And is that good for Hollywood? No, as it forces Hollywood to look to alternative means of marketing its product, such as cable and DVD release, which, of course, will be shortlived — at least profitability-wise — due to piracy. Also, when theaters sag, it makes the consumer business districts where they exist undesireable places to venture to. And that, in turn, hurts rather than benefits, the city.

See, in my case, I’m thinking of Hollywood, I’m thinking of the City, and thus I’m thinking how theaters — when run right — can be of great benefit to both. And also how much both lose out when they’re not run properly or are forced to fold completely. So why shouldn’t Hollywood, and the City, be strongly motivated to invest in them therefore? This seems to be where the big disconnect is going on right now. In my assessment — and keep in mind I’m an investor — it’s shades of Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” all over again…

TheaterBuff1 commented about Mayfair Theatre on Jan 26, 2006 at 5:08 am

Since the topic of this page is the Mayfair Theatre, as I understand it, Mr. Haas, you yourself have no viable plan of how it could be restored as a classy neighborhood movie theater now that Eckerds Pharmacy has recently vacated it. But what I fail to understand is how you go from your own lacking of such a plan to being harshly critical of those such as I who look for ways that it possibly could become a classy movie theater once more. You seem to think there’s only one way of doing things, your way, and if those tactics won’t work then that’s the end of the story. Case closed. And if I or anyone else disagrees with you, then you accuse us of being “unrealistic,” “ranting,” and now the newest term you’re tossing about is “libel,” which of late appears to be your third favorite word. And quite frankly I feel that’s about as Taliban-like as it gets!

For I just want to say to you, welcome to America, Mr. Haas, a country where we’re free to do things a bit differently than how they’re done in Afghanistan, Pakistan or whatever other oppressive country you’re apparently so anxious to see Philadelphia emulate. We were a very great city once, and we can be a great city again. And why you object to that goal so much I have nooooooo idea. But I would very much appreciate if you’d focus you energies more constructively — such as restoring Philadelphia’s last standing movie palace, the Boyd Theatre, the right way, as opposed to misinterpreting to others various comments I’ve posted throughout this Cinema Treasures website. Thank you!