Allston Cinemas

214 Harvard Avenue,
Boston, MA 02134

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Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

jake66 on February 14, 2018 at 5:44 pm

This place was a dump-the screens/auditoriums were tiny, it was dirty and the floors were always sticky. I recall in the early 80s it mostly played B movies-the kind that drew the type of audiences that the Chestnut Hill Cinema and the Circle Cinemas didn’t want-ie rowdy teenage boys-and as a teen I recall seeing “Halloween II”, “Friday the 13th 3 in 3D”, “The Howling” and “My Bloody Valentine” there. When Showcase took it over and the prices went up that was it for me-I wasn’t gonna pay a top dollar ticket price at a crappy venue like the Allston…

Honora on February 1, 2015 at 1:07 am

I began working at the Allston in March of 1976 and worked for Sonny and Eddy’s until 1978 or 1979 (the years have dulled my memory). I came in on the tail end of the run of Harold and Maude. It was a fun place to work and a place where I made lifelong friendships. We were unbelievably busy most of the time showing both first run and art films. The staff was full of movie lovers. If only the same could have been said of the owners. And in my humble opinion that was a large part of the problem as time went on. The Allston could have continued to fill a great little niche in the Boston movie scene but that would have required someone with an eye on more than just the bottom line. Still, I spent some of the happiest times of my life there. I have in my possession a fair amount of press materials and such from those years and have toyed with the idea of starting a FB page but just haven’t had the time yet. If you are on FB check every now and then. It’ll happen. In the meantime, if Candace K, Pete C, Jane E or any of the other folks who worked during those years see this, look me up on FB. David, Michael, Danny and Joanne are on FB too.

rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm

This opened on March 15th, 1973 as Allston C1nema – C2nema.

nilesouthern on July 19, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Does anyone from the ‘old days’ of Allston remember a film called End of the Road (1970)—it may have played as a cult film—as it did in NYC during mid-late ‘70s. The film is coming out for first time on DVD… I’m writing about it’s history at art-house cinemas…. Many thanks!

MPol on July 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I remember that cute little theatre. Too bad it had to go. I lived in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner area on my last year of college, and I was within walking distance of this theatre. I saw a number of movies in that theater, including my all time favorite film, West Side Story. I, too, miss it, especially since it’s one less movie theatre to go to.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on February 14, 2007 at 8:14 am

Hello again, Bob. You were at the Allston about the same time as I was at Chestnut Hill. I thought of the Allston as a place they gave films an extra few weeks after the Circle. It could have been a great neighborhood spot, I wonder why they didn’t try it.

rgladstein on February 14, 2007 at 4:29 am

I was the manager of the Allston for an almost interminable period: 1987 to ‘99. If I remember correctly, Cinema 1had 208 seats and Cinema 2 had 179.

It was really sad the way Showcase ignored the place. We were jokingly referred to as Circle Cinema screens 8 and 9 by the company’s other local managers. If we were ever busy, I believe it was due to an error. We opened Robocop and Do the Right Thing probably because the company didn’t realize they’d be as big as they were. And yes, we ran both of those films on both screens, running a single print through the projectors on “interlock”.

When I took over as managing director of Allston after working as assistant manager my first year with the company, I wrote a memo to the district and corporateoffices suggesting they let me experiment with programming one of the screens. Allston has a lot of students and immigrants, and I have an MS in the history of world cinema, so I thought I could make the place more a part of the community. No one replied to the memo, and we kept running the Circle’s leftovers.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 23, 2006 at 9:04 am

I saw Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing here during its first run. It played on both screens, an arrangement I don’t recall seeing for any other film here.

tinydr on May 23, 2006 at 1:25 am

Heh, hey Clinton, you probably don’t remember me, we didn’t overlap very much…

I’m pretty sure the last film I saw @ the Allston was some terrible B scifi flick with
then Coolidge staffer/later Projectionist JFR and the younger brother of former Coolidge
staffer Jen D. on comps called in by ye olde Coolidge in October of 1993.
Ironically that was before I moved to Allston… by then they only seemed to be
half-open and I couldn’t be convinced to go to that theater, even with comps…

Still, I’m sad to hear it closed.

ResidentClinton on May 4, 2006 at 3:38 am

PS – And yes, it was a boxy, unpleasant, junked old theatre, but for some reason the Allston’s very crappiness made it endearing. Often I found myself gravitating up the street after working at a grand old theatre like the Coolidge, just to see the worst movies just at a little junky twin. Why? Well, even though it was no movie palace, the Allston was a throwback to a different era, when neighborhood theatres were the norm, not multiplexes (in the suburbs of the midwest, where I grew up, these were mostly twins in strip malls). You just don’t have memorable experiences in a Staples…you have them in public places where people are allowed to interact. Yeah, like movie theatres – even the crappy ones. So, the Allston does still hold a certain little place in my heart.

ResidentClinton on May 4, 2006 at 3:31 am

Indeed, I was programmer for the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and also did the “Underground” programming at the Allston in the summer of 2003 (independent of the Coolidge). We did some fun programs there, everything from Kung Fu to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster films to a hip-hop film festival to, yes, antique stag loops (a program called The Good Old Naughty Days). Unfortunately, that programming was constantly butting heads with the Bombay’s programs, and so we parted ways. Not long after the building was sold and demolised.

shaggycub on April 17, 2006 at 3:29 pm

I lived in Allston from 1991 until 2000, and I went to the Allston fairly regularly. In the early part of the 90’s, they were a fairly respectable late first run house-I caught films like “Hero” there. I say late first run, as I recall the prices were first run, $7.50 or so, a little expensive for a second run move in the early 90’s. But I would usually catch matinees there for movies that I wanted to see, but not so bad I wanted to pay full price. Torwards the end of its life as a Showcase Theater, it definately turned into a dumping ground. Both “Fair Game” and “Barb Wire” both played there during their initial releases. I also remember that films generally only played there a week, come hell or high water. I never managed to make it to any of the Bollywood pics there, but I do remember both that, and the “Allston Underground” series. I believe that some staffers from the Coolidge were programming at the Allston before it closed for good (perhaps Clint?) My most vivid memory was catching an evening of vintage stag films there one late night, around 2003 or so. Despite the fact that the place was an eyesore and as generic as a movie theater could be, I was truly saddened to see it demolished for a Staples. To me, that box was the lesser of two evils. As ugly as that place was, I had fond memories of it.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 13, 2006 at 3:40 pm

In the early- and mid- 20th century, there was another Allston Theatre in Allston. It was located at 128 Brighton Avenue, had an impressive facade, and over 1100 seats with a balcony.

parktheatre on December 22, 2005 at 6:31 pm

I worked there as a projectionist in 1981-82. By then, Sonny and Eddie had split, and it was now an “Eddie’s Theatre” I’m pretty sure. Thinking back, I think maybe all of the Sonny and Eddies theatres became Eddies around this time. Back in the early 80’s, the Allston was more of a second-run theatre than an art house. It was often very busy on weekends and a fun place to work. Although the screens were small, they appeared larger due to the fact the auditoriums were narrow shoe boxes.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 7, 2005 at 1:02 pm

Possibly, although Bombay Cinema was around before they took over this theatre, and they’re still around today. They just don’t have their own venue anymore. At the moment, they are renting out two screens of the Somerville Theatre.

Bombay Cinema website

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 10, 2005 at 3:08 pm

After further research, I have to amend the above statement. At one point, the Harvard Square Theatre (then a single screen) was part of Sonny & Eddy’s. It is still open today as a five-screen Loews multiplex.

To my knowledge, no other former Sonny & Eddy’s theatre is still open.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 17, 2005 at 4:50 am

Besides being the last neighborhood theatre in Boston to close, this was also the last of the former Sonny & Eddy’s Theatres to close.

cinemaboy on February 14, 2005 at 5:28 am

The architect for the Pi Alley, as well as almost if not all of the Sack Cinemas, and Sonny and Eddy’s Cinemas, and many independently owned cinemas, was Burt W. Federman. His office was in Park Square and he designed or “twinned” literally thousands of cinemas in the New England area. By the 1980’s, he designed many of the Showcase cinemas located in New England and the central atlantic states. He passed away in 1987. He had also developed a soundproofing system for cinemas which had been first used in a mutiplex he had designed in the Bronx.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 18, 2005 at 1:32 pm

CinemaTour has a photo tour of the former Allston Cinema. Compare these with the photos that I linked in my previous post!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 18, 2005 at 1:21 pm

The Staples store that replaced the Allston Cinema is having its grand opening tomorrow.

While the Allston Cinema had interesting programming in the 1970s, it was a sad-looking building that won’t be missed. Allston used to have several much more impressive-looking theatres:

IanJudge on November 18, 2004 at 7:52 pm

We (the Somerville Theatre) do not rent to Bombay Cinema in any long term way… sometimes they rent an auditorium, sometimes they go for weeks without doing so, but we don’t want people to misunderstand and think they have found a permanent home with us. I believe they are still looking for a permanent cinema of their own.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 18, 2004 at 7:41 pm

I should add that Bombay Cinema showed movies at the Regent Theatre in Arlington for a few years before they moved into the Allston.

Bombay Cinema today runs movies at least some days of the week on one screen of the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square and the Capitol Theatre in Arlington.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 18, 2004 at 7:21 pm

I only went here two or three times over the years. I have a note that I saw Lina Wertmüller’s “Love and Anarchy” at the Allston in August of 1974.

IanJudge on November 18, 2004 at 5:09 pm

I have heard that Showcase bought this theater so that the nearby Circle Cinemas didn’t have to bid competitively for movies against the Allston. With Showcase controlling both, the quality pics went to the Circle, and the crap to Allston.