Alpine Four Theatre

3219 Alpine Avenue NW,
Grand Rapids, MI 49544

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Additional Info

Architects: Mel C. Glatz

Firms: Mel C. Glatz & Associates

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Alpine Twin Theatre

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Alpine Four Theatre

In 1970, John D. Loeks along with nine other stockholders, formed a new theater circuit called Auto-Cine, Inc. with the intention of building small, automated twin theaters throughout western Michigan. The Alpine Theatre, which opened on September 23, 1970 was the second theater in this new circuit. Opening movies were Liza Minnelli in “Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon” & Jack Lemmon in “The Out-of-Towners”.

The major premise in the twin theaters was to operate two auditoriums while using a common box office, concessions and rest room facilities and a minimum of personnel. A manager also handled the threading and starting of the films and the box office cashier doubled as a concession clerk. Projectors were outfitted to use larger reels, accommodating up to one hour each, instead of the usual 15 to 20 minutes.

In an article in the Grand Rapids Press, Loeks says, “What it amounts to is that we can set up two projectors, get the show started and have the whole operation complete itself without any manual assistance. We’ve moved from the old hand-crank projector to almost complete automation. Even some of theater advances still had the projectionist installing four to six reels for a feature film. Now only two are needed.”

The article continues to explain, “The first projector even turns itself off and activates the second projector through a magnatic strip attached to the film. The only real problem is when a film tears or splits, which calls for immediate splicing, but modern movie film is such that it rarely occurs.”

The theater closed in 2001, and was later demolished in 2003.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

AmyZ on February 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Man, I can remember seeing so many movies here as a kid. It was only a dollar for the longest time, but did increase to two at the end. My mom would take us, and we would get candy at the K-Mart next door and sneak it in…

@Shanahan-it’s nothing now. There’s a big box strip mall there now. Remember the restaurant next door? (The Clock) That had a great old 50’s sign in front, and it, too is gone.

shany94 on March 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Thanks, Amy. I think I read that the KMart on that side of Alpine is now history, too

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2009 at 2:04 am

A page of Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 25, 1971, was devoted to the Alpine Twin Theatre (its original name.) There were a few pictures of the theater. The twin auditoriums each had 325 seats in a continental arrangement. The side walls were curtained, and the back walls were faced with acoustic tile. The project was designed by Mel Glatz Associates.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on February 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

A manager started the movies and a concession stand girl handled the Box office and serving popcorn,and this a “classy” theatre.

CSWalczak on February 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I know how the description sounds, but believe it or not, it was a high quality experience at the beginning. Jack Loeks might have always had one eye on the bottom line, but his theaters were, at least most of the time I went to them in Michigan, well-run and clean theaters with good projection and sound. After he sold out to Loew’s-Cineplex (which soon after merged with AMC), many of Loek’s former theaters declined considerably.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on February 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

thanks Cwalczak,Sure sounded like a rag tag operation.

Coate on April 12, 2016 at 10:42 pm

As cited in my retrospective article, “The Game Changer”, the Alpine (then a twin) held the longest-running engagement of “Jaws.”

DavidZornig on August 12, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Water Winter Wonderland link with additional photos.

rivest266 on February 26, 2024 at 12:12 pm

Grand opening ad posted.

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