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New pictures in the Photos section.
New photos of the Luna exterior at night, taken December 11, 2021.
Stan Malone, thanks for the thumbnail business history, interesting. Jay McIntyre- The name does not ring any bells. My last four years at UA, I was in the new business department, where we looked for alternative uses for the theaters during business off-hours. We did install one auditorium in Denver with video game controllers, for a movie system that allowed the audience to select options and direct the outcome of the film. Perhaps there was some other initiative Mr. McIntyre was involved with before the new business group began circa 1994 I was at UA until 1998.
Random memories of managing the French Market Twin for Commonwealth Theaters for a few months in 1985, my second assignment…
The extremely narrow footprint of the FMT meant the lobbies sat on either side of the box office/concession stand, which meant crossing concessions to get to either auditorium. Each of the long, shoebox auditoriums had its own projection booth (barely big enough for the union operator) and really small screens. The office was tucked into one lobby and had a closed circuit tv, the first such security system I encountered in a theatre. Sometimes it worked. Above the theater was a nightclub; loud music routinely filtered through the porous FMT ceilings and walls on the weekends.
While the theatre was rarely busy enough to congest the lobbies, that situation was different when the University of Oklahoma football team arrived one Friday night to catch Jagged Edge. Imagine putting 100+ larger-than-normal people, coaches, trainers, etc., into a space that comfortably fit maybe 15. A sight not easily forgotten. The Sooners got free popcorn and drinks, too, so the concession scene, young giants and mere mortals in the same line, was a bit manic.
Jagged Edge was the biggest film that played FMT in my tenure. A reissue of Gremlins didn’t draw any crowds, but a Stripe doll, swag sent to the theatre, is still around. And Young Sherlock Holmes, despite the Spielberg hype, bombed at Christmas. FMT was also an OKC site for weekly trade screenings, and I got to see many films far in front of their release, or never again. The most memorable was a work print of the Patsy Cline biopic Sweet Dreams, featuring Jessica Lange and a lot of green screen effects yet to be finished. But largely it was a string of contract-fulfilling single plays of Cannon Film product, the Israeli-based company that controlled Commonwealth at the time.
The FMT is gone and not really lamented. The little twin always felt cramped and crammed into its space without much thought or practicality. And it was a way station for managers on the move. As usual, it was the crew that made the French Market Twin memorable.
Random memories of managing the Shepherd Twin: Started there the week before Memorial Day, 1985. The Gods Must Be Crazy was playing (to an empty room, unfortunately), the next week A View To A Kill (Roger Moore as James Bond) opened on the holiday, by far the biggest film to play during my short tenure. In fact, it was the only film to draw a crowd that summer, all other bookings went downhill after Bond (and Grace Jones!).
The theatre had a trio of senior citizen employees who had all been working at the Shepherd since the theater opened! They were extremely set in their ways, having lasted through dozens of previous managers. I brought in a couple of excellent assistant managers, from my previous Commonwealth assignments, who were a tremendous help.
The capacity of 2,200 listed above – doesn’t match my memory, perhaps the two rooms combined might make 1,100? They were long, narrow rooms with a center aisle. Curtains that were not used. And the marquees shown in the 1976 photo above were gone by the time I arrived in ‘85. The Shepherd was a historic venue for the city, but it was dead in the water by 1985; 2-screen venues were financially no match for the burgeoning 6 and 8 plexes coming on line in OKC. I was last in the theater when the auditoriums were stripped to bare walls and dirt, remodeling for flat flooring, in the mid-1990s. Haven’t been back to the mall since then, but I do have fond memories of my short time as the theater manager. I only wish I had taken photos!
Stan Malone – I don’t get over here to CT very often! Thanks for your comment (years ago!). Yes, those five and six-plexes were state of the art at the time, even the bare bones theaters like HP5. I was in the theater management business during a crazy transition time (1984-88)– singles and twins shutting down, cookie-cutter multi-plexes theaters sprouting, and old-school paper-and-pencil accounting going away in favor of computerization. I did another nine years at United Artists corporate headquarters in Denver in the 1990s, when the transformation into modern theaters (early experiments with digital presentation, 10-12-14 plexes began) was underway.
During my two separate stints at the Almonte (1984 and 1988), the space next to the theater was occupied by a hot dog restaurant run by a nice gentleman. He was always tickled when theater employees came in to buy a hot dog – at about half the price of the ones sold in the theater concession stand! The door at the right of the picture is the entrance to the hot dog stand.
The Almonte 6 movie theater had no outside marquee. And this sign, at the edge of the shopping center, also never advertised the theater.
“Seed – A picture every woman should see”…funny, there are very few women to be seen in this photo. Did the men of OKC figure Hollywood had something to tell them about their wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers?
The theatre seats have been removed from the upstairs, which means the best seats in the balcony are along the first row. The view from the rest of the flat-floored balcony is blocked by the patrons in the front row. This is a cool old venue with a lot of problems, including parking.
The new owners are still trying to figure out what to do with the former Yates Theater: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/04/25/yates-theater-tavern-denver/
Nice write-up about this north Denver theater. I had been in it once in the 1990s when it was still a piano store. The floors had never been leveled, so all the keyboards slanted downhill!
New shots of the Fox in the Photos section.
Candleshoe was released December 16, 1977.
Recent pictures posted in the Photo section – May, 2018.
Visited for the May 5, 2018 concert by Neil Young and Crazy Horse: beautiful theater, great acoustics, perfect ambiance for the concert. Added a couple pictures to the Photo section.
Recent photo of the theater added in the Photo section. Any idea what’s behind the cryptic message on the marquee?
Stumbled across the ruins of the New Frontier Drive In outside of of Center, Colorado while cruising the highway – new pictures in the Photo section. Wonder who got the marquee? No sign of it on the grounds.
The former Abbey Theatre was alive and well last March 2016, and again during an August 2017 visit to Durango. The Animas City Theatre occupies the venue and hosts live music and movies. New picture in the Photos section.
New developments for the Yale: http://www.okctalk.com/content.php?r=407-Plans-revealed-for-renovation-of-historic-Capitol-Hill-theater
Gold Hill is a three-screen venue. New pictures uploaded to the Photo section.
Picture taken in 1966.
Picture from 2007.
Recent photos of the Esquire now posted in the Photo section.
Myrna Loy stars in Man Proof (1938), Humphrey Bogart leads the cast of Swing Your Lady (1938), and The Arthur Murray “Shag” Dancers hoof their way through the short subject The Big Apple.