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The Rat is gone?!!! Oh my, the club that brought us “Roxanne” during “The Police"s first trip to the states is gone… I doubt I will even recognize the Back Bay of Beantown anymore. All in the name of progress. I hear there will be an Apple Store in some location that the historic community is complaining about. Yet they allow the Rat to get torn down for a Hotel… (lol) oh the humanity.
another one bites the dust….too bad… it had a killer sound system.
What happened to the 2 big premier screening houses across the street? I notice that the “GCC 7” plex went to the “Pacific 5”. I know a lot of studios used the facility to screen prints back in the GCC reign.
Maybe the only gig in history where working as a projectionist, you have the possibility of getting run over in traffic while threading up all the movie houses.
Actually the 61" big screen TV “DOES” replace most of the screens at the Copley Place Theaters. Kind of my whole rant that is turning into a novel on this page…. sorry about that. But someone has to recognize and point out the cancer that is eating away a great heritage.
Yea, Thanks for confirming everything I stated… For one, Alan"baby" didn’t book the Back Bay, he hired someone to do that for him… and Anyway, it really looks like most of the venue “assassinations” took place after Freidberg was in retirement. It doesn’t matter who booked the theaters, especially if the theaters weren’t there to be booked in the first place. The whole process of “multiplexing” the Back Bay of Boston is what took away the whole purpose and meaning of this website… large scale single screen venues, that served the neighborhoods their movies. These Large Venues that created an “experience” of attending a movie on Opening Day. There is a “buzz” created in a lobby during an opening, when “hundreds” of people (not a couple dozen) anticipates screening a movie.
When you replace these venues with shoeboxes and poorly designed theaters (Copley Place)… your killing the lifeblood of your purpose in the movie business. ALL of these theaters The Cheri, The Paris, The Charles, The 57, should have been attended to. It certainly would have been cheaper to “Refurbish” the theaters then to buy premium downtown footage to stack a bunch of shoe boxes together. Maybe not, Maybe it wasn’t “cost effective”. All of these theaters were neglected for many years… the screens and sound looked great thanks to the expert tooling of Boston Light and Sound. But the actual venues were pretty boned out. Its just shows how the WHOLE exhibition biz just doesn’t get it anymore. There are no more “Fox Theaters” or “Paramount Theater”, I used to walk by the “Paramount Theater” everyday, FOR YEARS!!!! Just wondering what happened to such a grand place in the MIDDLE of the Center of downtown Boston. Abandoned, Boarded up, Left for dead…. (BRAVO EMERSON COLLEGE!!!)
They can “bitch and moan” about how the grosses aren’t what they used to be… well, the movie experience they are providing, isn’t what it used to be either. Its been cheapened and the experience of presenting a movie HAS to be re-evaluated if they still want to make a buck in the marketplace. Peoples nice big comfy couch with their surround sound Mega Screen home theater set ups is a really cool thing, but it will never replace attending a movie with several hundred of your closest strangers. “61 inch” Big screen TV’s don’t replace the “40 foot” silverscreen. Never have… never will.
Lost control in 1974… but when was he shown the door? I was working for the company, (thru the union), during that Sack to USA to Loews conversion. A very short time between the metamorphoses. What was it ‘86 to '91 from USA to Loews? When in '86 USA went on a buying spree through out the New England Territory? Ripe pickings for the Conglomerate. But over all though.. they sure messed up viewing movies in the downtown Back Bay area of Boston. I don’t fault the Sack/USA people…Like I said, Capitalism is a wonderful thing, Build a wonderful chain of theaters.. sell it off to someone who really wants it… I fault the Loews Conglomerate that failed to “know” the area that they were exhibitors in. How do you “book” an area you don’t know anything about. Numbers are easy to try and base an audience. But I definitely feel that the “Movie Patrons Soul” was raped when Loews took over the Boston area. Sack/USA theaters sure had a huge strangle hold on the area at the time.
BTW…Sack had the best company intro trailer… when the graphic “patron” sat in the seat and thus turned into the “S” of Sack Theaters… music, short and sweet… too cool.
Actually it looks like Robert Redford made the mistake(as well as BU) in not scooping the Nick when he could have. Bring back the Sundance Art films back to a theater that used to make its living doing just that. Sad to see the corporate movie machine has all but killed one of the greatest movie audiences in the nation. Maybe its time for the little guy to bring the movies to the public instead of the corporate greedy bastards who are obviously the “pretenders” of the film exibitioners field. I doubt that 5% of em ever tore a ticket or scooped a bucket of popcorn in their life.
This Last Comment of Ron’s is kind of going towards the point that kind of revealed itself during the preceding comments… The beginning of the end of one of the Biggest Movie Cities I have ever seen, is when the ownership of the theaters went into the hands of the big Conglomerate “LOEWS”. After BUYING and BUYING and BUYING all of its “competition”. Probably leveraging itself into debt in a big way… becoming “too big for its own britches”. When USA theaters bought out Mr. Sack (if I remember right, I am pretty sure it was an underhanded dirty trick too, if I remember right he came back from a vacation and didn’t have a company anymore) It (USA cinemas) started the trend of creating the “monster” that ate itself.
It changed a “movie presenting” company (Sack theaters) into a “making money” company (USA theaters). And before all you capitalist jump down my throat… I think that “making money” is a good thing. Making money at doing something your good at is even a better thing. The Back Bay of Boston is/was a very savvy movie crowd. And Sack Theaters knew its patrons very well. Each Theater had a certain style of movie presented on its screens.
The Nickalodeon was the “Art house” that USA acquired to round out its theater chain… Copley was always the “upscale” movie house, in the hooty tooty marbled lobbied mall on the edge of Roxbury. (Its sad to hear that those “race problems” of the past still haven’t really gone away.) The “Nick” used to have Premium Ice Cream from one of the local makers “Steves” or something off of Newberry street (Emack & Bolio’s). Certainly something special that most theaters didn’t offer. It was a unique experience, of course the movies were off beat as well. But there was an appreciation offered to its patrons. Then it got bought out… Movies became main stream, gone were the cool extras…
When I worked as a projectionist for the 57, the Cheri, Beacon Hill, and The Charles… all of the theaters were pretty worn out… none of them had “stadium seating” or much in the way of luxury. ALL of them were strung out as long as the dollars kept streaming in…keep the cattle rolling… absolutely NO reinvestment was ever done to any of these theaters. They were all PITS. Slowly they were dropped, torn down? Hell they should have been burnt down… they were all “worn out”!!
As times change and as the public grows into having “Home Cinema” set ups in their homes… the Theater Industry is going to have to drag their patrons out of their comfy couches and digital surround sound home screens. Dirty stinky rats infested movie houses aren’t going to cut it. And that is just what those houses were at the end of their runs.
The movie industry can “milk” their businesses for all they can with out re-investing, updating, or thinking about their patrons. Gone are the “FOX THEATERS” the “MAJESTIC THEATERS”, gone are the chandeliers and the customer service that comes with the price of the ticket. Now a days you get an empty cup thrown at you and are told to “Go fill it up at the Soda Station”. That is if you can get waited on in the first place. Movies are given about as much attention…. sure you have your 4 or 5 huge budgeted special effects movies And of those, maybe those aren’t copied formula from some other movie that made a bundle last year, or it doesnt have a number on the end of it… haha… (those were the days, that goddamn Stallone) There just is no mystique to the movie theater anymore.
Theaters are converted from Parking garages, or built like sheet metal polebarns. Its all about the greed. Lets see how little we can spend to make as much as we can… There is no work ethic or class in the movie business anymore. There is a line that has been crossed when you become “all about the money” and not about “the craft”.
For Boston, that line was crossed when Mr. Sack came back from his vacation and didn’t have a theater company anymore. His company was “built up” for the sole purpose of being “liquidated”. USA theater executives favorite movie MUST have been “Wall Street”. If I am not mistaken it was very close to that period in time (1987). To “part off” a company or a shell of a company anyway to “over-value” a company to “Take the money and RUN!!!”. I really feel sorry for Boston, to be shown the carrot and have it snatched away by people who really don’t have any business calling themselves “Movie Exhibiters”.
BTW… I love this website… its reminds me that there was a time when movie exhibitors took pride in presenting a movie. I wish that the movie “The Majestic” had come out instead of “Wall Street”. It showed us that there was once a “sense of pride” in doing ones job. That there was a joy in entertaining people. A joy that fills the soul like money can’t. To be in a theater on an opening day of a big movie and “FEEL” the electricity in the anticipation of the patrons. We need a changing of the guard my friends, Its the Gordon Gekkos of this industry that have almost KILLED this industry. Bitch and moan about the lack of patronage in movie theaters and the decreasing numbers who visit the cinema… do you really wonder why?
Wow… I wanna cry, I just saw the “golf school” complete with its own projection portal…lol.
I used to run the 57s booth for the Union for almost a decade. Both houses were 35/70mm houses. Every Summer and Christmas Blockbuster were almost guaranteed to be 70mm flicks… lugging around those huge 70mm reels was certainly something to “prepare for”.
Not very comments on the ‘haunting" of the 57. Site of the old Coconut Grove disaster. Lots of crazy stuff went on in that building. Although maybe the best show was outside the backdoor at the transvestite bar. Everynight the creatures of the night would show up… craziest thing this midwestern boy ever saw…lol.
It was the Largest and Third Largest houses in the Boston theater line up…(the Cheri had the 2nd largest) I had an amazing time at that theater… Aliens was the movie that was the biggest flick for that theater. Its was there forever… in 70mm… we had to get replacement reels after all the magnetic sound had finally wore off the film. The theaters weren’t anything to be all that proud of… pretty rundown and un-comfortable, but it sure packed em in. I remember when Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher, and Michelle Pheiffer were all secretly escorted in to see Aliens once the lights went down. (if only the patrons knew they were screening with Hollywood Royalty. They were “in Town” to film “the Witches of Eastwick”) It was funny to see it remarked about in the Boston Phoenix or maybe it was the Boston Herald. So, I guess somebody looked away from the movie screen for a second.
Ron, were you a projectionist?, you seem to have quite a bit of knowledge of my old Union “stomping ground” You have brought back a lot of memories for me. Thanks a lot.. Great stuff, Great website… my first exposure to it.
The Cheri was a 70MM house, it was also the last of the Carbon Arc lit projectors in Boston (till it caught fire) The Cheri was one of 4 (70mm) houses in the Boston area During the late 80s. The Charles, had one 70mm theater, Both of the Cinema 57 theaters were 70mm Houses, and Copley had a theater in 70mm.
Sack/USA/Lowes theaters had a nice racket going in Boston. Each theater had a function before its demise of the “Multi-Plex invasion” (Copley Place)
The HoJo “57” was largest (1007) and third (867) largest houses in Boston, the premier Blockbuster action house, Aliens/Rocky/Rambo/any “Cannon pictures” movie with Chuck Norris or “lots of guns” opened there. I know cuz I ran the cameras for over 8 years. (I remember Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher, and Michelle Pheiffer all secretly ‘escorted’ into see Aliens in 70mm during a sold out show when they were all filming “The Witches of Eastwick”)
The Cheri got the “Bond” movies, Indiana Jones/Batman/ Family oriented films opened there, The Charles got more arty movies, (Lawrence of Arabia -re-mastered in 70mm)
“Paris” got the art flicks and they usually put the controversial flicks there, being on busy Mass Ave. there wasn’t much room for protesters unless they were willing to take on busy traffic for their cause. “The Last Temptation of Christ” and ‘Agnes of God’ played there FOREVER!!!
Any type of movie you wanted to see were all with in a mile radius of each other… sure it was a hike, but they sure beat the multiplex “screening room” 40 people capacity theater 10 foot screen of the Copley. Nothing like seeing an action flick with 999 blood thirsty movie fans yelling at the screen.
Nice Photo Larry J. Davis
Buckhead TowerPlace 6 was the ORIGINAL multiplex in Atlanta. I was the projectionist during the Dollar Day theater operation of Metroplex theaters in Buckhead Tower Place 6 … there wasn’t any periscopes/mirror set up when I was there… and that was right after AMC moved out from their Dollar Days set up they had going… they left because of all of the construction that was occurring in TowerPlace during the Pre-Olympic set up of the town. The crackpot independent that ran Metroplex let us do our thing and during the time I was running the screens, its was selling out all screens. Not much else helps movie houses more then to have nice looking screens presented to their patrons. After I was ripped-off by the indy-owner (funny how theater owners don’t understand the concept of a properly presented movie), I left and so did the business from what I understand, till finally Metroplex went under, or just out of that site, and AMC moved back in… nothing much was changed booth-wise Century projectors and Christy Platters (they did add DTS sound systems) but they sure polished up the lobby really nice, lots of brushed aluminum wall panels, new colorful carpet, and cool “club” seating (cut to a third or its original capacity) from 160-200 to about 60 – 80 people per theater. They turned the back storage room into the Kitchen prep area. The theaters are small though, but then again, it is a Parking Garage that has been converted… so not much room to renovate that.
Conceptually though, 10 years ago, they started what most majors are now turning to to save their businesses… Luxury seating, Real Food, and Customer Service in the way of waiters and waitresses. Classier then the “Cinema and Suds” second run joints that “come and go”… by giving the patrons some luxury surroundings to see their first run movies, redefining the term “Dinner and a Movie” AMC has a vision that is now being copied around the nation by ALL major movie chains.