Kon-Tiki Theatre Demolished

posted by jon6444 on January 5, 2005 at 7:00 am

TROTWOOD, OH — After nearly 37 years, the Kon-Tiki Theatre is no more.

The theater opened in 1968 as the Kon-Tiki. It featured a South Pacific decor, which included conch shells for restroom sinks, illuminated tiki faces on the facade and volcanic and abalone shells in the walls.

In the late 1980s, it became the Loews Salem Ave. It closed in 1999 and sat vacant until this week when it was demolished by the city of Trotwood to make way for future developement. The theater is unique, because I am not aware of any other that has a South Pacific decor.


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Comments (18)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 5, 2005 at 7:28 am

What will the future development be?

jon6444 on January 5, 2005 at 9:16 am

It will be a temporary green space until a developer show interest.

englewoodcinema on January 5, 2005 at 12:18 pm

3stooge is open in 68 closed in 99 that is 31 years NOT by 37!

jon6444 on January 5, 2005 at 1:35 pm

Thanks,“realmovieinfo” In operation for “31” years, In existence for “37” years.

englewoodcinema on January 5, 2005 at 2:52 pm

Kon-Tiki was the brainchild of the late Sam Levin.Kon-Tiki means Sun God and Al Levin puts it best. To the Levins the Kon-Tiki closed in March 1987 when they leased the theatre to USA Cinemas who named the complex Salem Avenue Cinemas. When it closed in February 1999 it could have been a turnkey theatre since Levin’s owned all the equipment.
The Kon-Tiki featured six projectors, two for each screen.
LOEWS owned nothing and took nothing. LOEWS was paying Levins $125,000 a year in rent so when it closed the Levins just put it up for sale asking $590,000 for the 28,000 sq ft theatre and the land. All hope was lost when the roof started to go and a few winters back the water pipes busted. The theatre also had been broken into a few times over the years that is why two of the screen was cut.

I have been inside the Kon-Tiki several times over the years since she closed and I saw her waste away. On Monday I was there to say my goodbye and Tuesday to see her come down, in the end she was full of mold and water. Kon-Tiki is now gone forever but




August 1968 Opens with Odd Couple.

By mid 1970’s Kon-Tiki Twin was born.

Late 1970's
Midstates keeps adding screens to Salem Mall Cinemas from 1 to 2 to 4 and Chakeres Theatres twins Cinema North so another screen is put up at Kon-Tiki.

1983 Levins close nearby Salem Drive-In

1985 Levins find it harder to get good movies at Kon-Tiki.

1987 USA who took over Midstates Salem Mall 4 and Beaver Valley 6 lease Kon-Tiki from Levins in a 15-year deal.

USA now has 7 screens in West Dayton Chakeres now has 5 at Cinema North.

1990’s LOEWS takes over USA Cinemas.

Salem Avenue Cinemas get flops and left over movies from Salem Mall Cinemas and even sometimes movies from the now National Amusements owned Cinema North.

1996 Salem Mall Cinema close in June.

1997 The first real hit to show at Kon-Tiki in almost 20 years Titanic opens national and at Salem Avenue Cinemas.

September 1998 National Amusements close Cinema North 5.
West of the river now has no first run cinemas but the Salem Avenue Cinemas. Salem Mall is now a $2.00 cinema.

December 1998 LOEWS wants out of Dayton market.

February 1999 LOEWS closes Salem Avenue Cinemas Kon-Tiki plays
The Faculty, Virus and Down in the Delta.

December 1999 LOEWS leaves Beaver valley and the Dayton market/

January 2000-2004
Water pipes bust at Kon-Tiki and vandals trash the theatre and cut screens.
Mold takes over theatre.

Levins donate Kon-Tiki to Trotwood

2005 Trotwood demolishes Kon-Tiki.

jon6444 on January 5, 2005 at 4:22 pm

So how many screens did the Kon-Tiki have?

englewoodcinema on January 6, 2005 at 8:48 am

The Kon-Tiki was originally has a single 1100 seat theatre. A new theatre was built onto the Kon-Tilki and in the end the big 1100 seat has was split down the middle to make it a triplex.

englewoodcinema on January 6, 2005 at 9:19 am

Kon-Tiki was pattern after The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The late Sam Levin saw the Chinese Theatre and fell in love with it and wanted to bring something like that to Dayton.

The volcano sinks and lit tiki torches surrounding the parking lot area and the one time massive marquee are some of things that most people remember about the Kon-Tiki.

The funny thing is when the Kon-Tiki first open in August 1968 the theatre had no concession stand. Mr. Sam Levin wanted it to be very upscale and for what ever reasons, he may have only known why it should not, the Kon-Tiki did not have a concession stand. Mr. Sam Levin soon did change his mind and add a concession stand.

The Levins were very much showmen. Brother Al, Lou and Sam Levin produced The Girls on the Beach in 1965 with the Beach Boys.

Al and Lou still own the Dixie Drive-In which is now a twin, which host the Paris Flea Market. They also own Turtle and Creaser Creek Flea Markets.

They once owned the 20TH Century Theatre, Esquire Theatre, Ferguson Hills Drive-In, and Jolly Roger Drive-In all in Cincinnati.

The Levins also owned the first ever twin theatre ever back in 1959 when they added another screen at the Sherwood Drive-In Theatre.

They had a car wash, fast food restaurants to name a few.

Al,Lou and Sam Levi, The brothers three as they were once known are probably Dayton’s most successful Jewish Family.

englewoodcinema on January 6, 2005 at 9:21 am

Al,Lou and Sam Levin, The brothers three as they were once known are probably Dayton’s most successful Jewish Family.

jon6444 on January 7, 2005 at 9:33 am

Very intersting, does anyone have some older picures of the Kon-Tiki they could post on this site, I was very young and have only slight recollections of the Kon-Tiki as it use to be.

englewoodcinema on January 7, 2005 at 12:01 pm

I have several photos of the Kon-Tiki and I am currently working on a website that we be all about the Levins. I will have a massive page all about the Kon-Tiki not only because it was their flagship theatre but also it is the most beautiful theatre I have ever seen. In my collection I have the grand opening pictures from the front of the Kon-Tiki taken from across the theatre on Salem Avenue. I have several inside pictures of the Kon-Tiki as a single screener and lobby area. Kon-Tiki’s marquee at night in the early 1970’s is one that makes me want to cry. I have pictures of the twin being put up and even pictures of USA taking down several of the items that made her great including what they called “work” to the marquee. I have two Tiki torches and have taken pictures of them which I will place on the website also. I also sadly have pictures from inside and outside on the night she closed and pictures after she was attacked by mold and water damage. Also I will but up the blue prints for the Kon-Tiki as a triplex. I will add a link soon when the site is up.

jon6444 on January 7, 2005 at 1:25 pm

Great, looking forward to the new site.

englewoodcinema on January 7, 2005 at 1:25 pm

When I said
To the Levins the Kon-Tiki closed in March 1987 they leased the theatre to USA Cinemas. It was May, May 13th 1987to be exact.

The final movies played by Levins at Kon-Tiki was as follows:

Friday May 8th – Thursday May 14th, 1987

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (PG)
FRI @ 7:25, 9:10, 10:55 SAT @ 1:45 3:30 5:20 7:25 9:10 10:55
SUN @ 1:45 3:30 5:20 7:25 9:10 MON-THURS 7:25 9:10
My Demon Lover (PG13)
FRI @ 7:30, 9:10, 10:50 SAT @ 1:30 3:10 4:50 7:30 9:10 10:50
SUN @ 1:30 3:10 4:50 7:30 9:10 MON-THURS 7:30 9:10
Creep Show 2 ®
FRI @ 7:45, 9:30, 11:15 SAT @ 1:00 2:45 4:30 7:45 9:30 11:15
SUN @ @ 1:00 2:45 4:30 7:45 9:30 MON-THURS 7:45 9:30

englewoodcinema on January 7, 2005 at 1:28 pm

The Kon-Tiki closed that Friday May 15th 1987 so USA Cinemas could do some “work on the theatre”. It was reopen weeks later as Salem Avenue Cinemas.

gregopt on July 22, 2006 at 5:01 am

So ReelMovies… did you ever get that website up? I worked at the Kon-Tiki for a short time around 1980 (I remember they had the first PacMan machine I’d ever seen). I loved the giant conch shells used for sinks in the restrooms. I thought this was the most “quality-built” theater I ever worked at. Let me know if you had any luck with the website.

savetheqv on March 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Did ReelMovies ever finish the KonTiki website? I’d like to see it.

TLSLOEWS on July 8, 2010 at 4:46 pm

AKA Loews Salem Ave. Theatre.

Christopher on April 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I have wonderful childhood memories of the Kon-Tiki cinema before it became USA cinemas. As a child I remember seeing “Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D.” Not only was the theater unique, but the film programming was unique during the early to mid-80’s as well. Often the cinema would screen double features such as Brian De Palma’s “Body Double” along with Ken Russell’s “Crimes of Passion.” Also, during the initial theatrical release of George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead”, the Kon-Tiki billed a triple feature of “Night of the Livjng Dead”, “Dawn of the Dead”, and “Day of the Dead.“ During this time period the cinema had a very classic grindhouse vibe, arguably the closest thing that Dayton had to offer, similar to the NYC and LA grindhouse circuit. The amazing film programming included many films within the exploitation film genre that are regarded as genre classics today, which helped add to the appeal of the Kon-Tiki. Also, the owners did not shy away from screening controversial, unrated sexploitation films such as "Caligula” and “Bolero.” (All of which I was too young to see at the time!) LOL. It is disappointing to find that the city of Dayton did nothing to preserve such a unique landmark cinema

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