Boca Raton Theatre
2140 N. Federal Highway,
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Previously operated by: Wometco Theatres
Previous Names: Wometco's Boca Raton Theatre
Wometco continued to reach out to new suburban South Florida audiences with the Boca Raton Theatre, which was open from May 21, 1964 with the World Premiere of “Flipper’s New Adventure”. It was located on U.S. 1 at 20th Street/Fifth Avenue Shops.
A single-screen facility for its first decade, twinning took place around the time AMC opened its Boca Mall 6 a mile south. Only used for a Halloween haunted house attraction once Wometco withdrew in 1984, the theatre was demolished in 1985 to allow expansion of the neighboring McDonalds.
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Recent comments (view all 21 comments)
Regarding the street view (nice addition, CT!): The BRT was behind the McDonald’s displayed above, its former space now occupied by a drive-thru lane and additional parking.
What I’m curious about is, when this place was “twinned” was it just divided in two or was an annex added to the building? Because I remember the post-twinning theaters as being rather large – bigger than the Boca Mall 6’s theaters I’d guess. So if the two theaters were originally one that one would’ve been huge. Does anyone remember the layout of the interior?
THE STING played this theater for almost six months, from Christmas of 1973 to June 1974. E.T. played here for exactly six months, from June to December 1982.
Curtains: As with other 70s twin theatre conversions in the area (Pompano Cinema, Boynton Cinema), Wometco built a wall down the middle of the original BRT to achieve twinning. Each twin was indeed larger and deeper than the Boca Mall 6’s shoebox style, but the reduction of screen space was a definite loss.
There wasn’t much to the interior — Wometco had stopped doing its architectural flourishes by then. It was your basic rectangle with (IIRC) red wall treatments (after twinning, one side was redone in aqua, also IIRC). The box office/lobby/concession area was a long corridor, running along the adjoining restaurant space (eventually McDonald’s).
While searching Google News' archives, found an item from The Boca Raton News (defunct) about an early 70s proposal to relocate the BRT to a smaller space within the Fifth Avenue Shops.
I remember the red curtains. I don’t think they were ever cleaned because by the early ‘80s they lent a characteristic funky smell to the theater. I also recall that till the end there was a 1960s vintage vending machine that dispensed grape soda or whatever into a paper cup. A couple of my high school friends were employed there at the very end, and I remember they were very sad it was closing. In fact I think they attempted to start a campaign to keep it open. Despite its quaintness it was a fairly charming theater.
There was also a time when, as with other Wometco locations, you received a token for admission and entered via turnstiles (making one usher redundant). Think they did eventually revive paper tickets toward the end. Some friends couldn’t set foot there due to that “funky smell,” they suspected mold in the wall treatments and curtains.
Opening Day: May 27, 1964 – FLIPPER’S NEW ADVENTURE
First day as a twin theater: June 25, 1976 – THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA with PETER PAN / THE HORSE WITH THE FLYING TAIL
Last day: August 16, 1984 – REVENGE OF THE NERDS / THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT
It was a really big deal when The Sting ran there for so long. I remember The Boca Raton News having an editorial about it. Very common for films to run at sites for a long time, 40-something weeks was special. I remember Serpico and Billie Jack being at Deerfield Drive Inn every week for a couple months in this period. We memorized them.
I write a blog in which I watch every single movie shown at the Boca Raton Theatre:
(Note: the thumbnail picture is not of the theater, but of the Sabal Point condominium, which was constructed during the first year the theater was open. I haven’t been able to find a photo of the theater.)
Grand opening ad posted.
Wometco announced its 1,000-seat Boca Raton Theatre in 1963 with a groundbreaking and time capsule ceremony November 28, 1963 attended by the Mayor of Boca Raton. The venue had an open house on May 26, 1964 followed by a World Premiere showing of “Flipper’s New Adventure” on May 27, 1964 to open the theatre. Mitzie, the porpoise who played Flipper, was transported from Miami to Boca to attend the premiere as was local Channel 6 personality Chuck Zink in his role as “Popeye Playhouse” emcee Skipper Chuck.
The theatre operated on a 20-year lease. Not long after the half-way point, a plan was drawn up to divide the auditorium into two. As noted above, the venue relaunched as a twin on June 25, 1976 with “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea” and Walt Disney’s “Peter Pan” with “The Horse with the Flying Tail.” The venue then closed quietly on August 16, 1984 with “"Revenge of the Nerds” and “The Philadelphia Experiment.”