Lauderhill Mall Cinemas 1 & 2
1225-1227 Northwest 40th Avenue,
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Firms: Gamble & Gilroy Architects
Functions: Medical Center
Previous Names: Lauderhill I Cinema, Loews Lauderhill Theatre, Loews Lauderhill I Theatre, Lauderhill Twin Mall Cinemas 1 & 2, Lauderhill Cinema, Lauderhill Mall Cinema I & II
There is no better example of the theatrical exhibition trend of luxury suburban movie houses than Loews Lauderhill Theatre located at Lauderhill Mall. The first-run venue launched with great fanfare on June 30, 1967. And by the time it closed in 1986, the venue had been dropped by its originating circuit - and another - eking out an existence as an independently-operated bargain price house. By that time, the theatre had been carved into two auditoriums defeating its original design on its way to permanent closure in a multiplex era frowning upon such venues with small screen counts.
The Lauderhill Mall was announced in April of 1965 and billed to be the first air conditioned shopping city of the Southeast. Original anchors were Dade County-based Richards Department Store with an outparcel tire center, Woolworth’s big box store, Woolco – its first Southeast location also featuring an outparcel auto service center, and a Food Fair grocery store. The architectural plans by Gamble, Pownall & Gilroy left a southwest side spot reserved for a theater that became the Loews’ Lauderhill Theatre and a future restaurant that appears to have become the Park Lane Cafeteria. The $7.5 million center opened unevenly with the Woolco and Food Fair opening first on November 2, 1966 followed by Richard’s on November 25th and most of the other interior stores in December of 1966 and January of 1967. The official Grand Opening of the Lauderhill Mall took place on February 16, 1967 with all 53 stores open minus the Loew’s Theatre.
Loews Laduerhill Theatre was described as a luxury venue and was designed by the two remaining partners in the renamed Gamble & Gilroy Architects, Clinton Gamble and William Allen Gilroy, Jr. Designed as a 1,200-seat theatre, the design was trimmed back to 1,000 seats for even more aisle room and resulting comfort. Loews hosted three openings for its Lauderhill Theatre. And they had come at an opportune time as, in a ten-year period, the area reportedly had lost all five of its aging central business district movie theatres. An open house occurred the day prior to Loews launch. The Grand Opening on June 30, 1967 featured “The Dirty Dozen” starring Lee Marvin. And a children-only open house and screening occurred on July 1, 1967.
The opening event featured Lauderhill Mayor Howard Elinger cutting the ceremonial ribbon and Loews Lauderhill Manager Peter Graybill - coming over from the Loews Westchester - had remarks about the venue. People were impressed with the opening art gallery’s work curated by Miami artist, Frank Donnini. Much like the Mall’s anchor, the biggest advantage for the theatre was its own parking area steps away from the entrance. The venue’s projection booth also sported 35mm, 70mm and, reportedly, Cinerama capability.
One of the biggest hits for Loews Lauderhill Theatre was a four-month run of “The Godfather” which became Broward County’s all time box office champion in 1972. But it also demonstrated the limitations of a one-theatre system especially when kids couldn’t attend the feature. Loews had already begun working on a solution building the Loews Lauderhill 2 Theatre across the street from the Lauderhill Mall. It launched on March 29, 1972 and has its own Cinema Treasures page and joined by a Winn-Dixie and an Action Mart. But neither theatre would be in the Loews portfolio much longer.
In a major business development announced on May 30, 1972, Loews sold all of its theatres in Florida to its rival, General Cinema Corp. (GCC), effective June 15, 1972. The original Loews Lauderhill 1 Theatre became the General Cinema Lauderhill I with the other taking the roman numeral II. The confusion was likely quite high and the venues’ names were changed on July 1, 1972 with the original venue called the Lauderhill Cinema and the newer building called the 16th Street Cinema located in the 16th Street Shopping Center.
The Lauderhill Cinema and the 170th Street Cinema were both closed by GCC after successful runs of “Jaws” on September 28, 1975 to be twinned to remain viable. The mall venue became the Lauderhill Mall Cinema I and II beginning on November 7, 1975 with John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn in “Rooster Cogburn" and Michael Caine in “Peeper". The venue’s address changed from 1225 to 1225-1227 NW 40th Street.
On February 4, 1982, GCC exercised an opt out at the 15-year leasing point of its Lauderhill Cinema I & II and also dumping the 16th Street Cinema across the street as it moved on to its multiplex strategy consisting of 4- to 8-screen locations. Both theatres continued on an independent operations with the original venue known as the Lauderhill Mall Cinemas 1 & 2 showing first run films on the very next day, February 5, 1982. With audiences continuing to drop, this venue would then be labeled as Lauderhill Mall Twin Cinemas 1 & 2 moving to discount, sub-run discount showings.
Thepair of twin theatreswere operated by Florida Quality Theatres (FQT) as the Lauderhill mall Cinema 4 but were closed in February of 1983due to FQT none-payment of lease and were auctioned off in late-May of 1983. The theatres each found new operators. The Lauderdale Mall Twin next tried ultra-discount, sub-run discount showings with double features just 89 cents for all showtimes in 1983. Though this appeared to be a low point for the venue, it could have been worse; the 16th Street Theatre across the street moved to adult fare inviting much opposition and criticism.
The mall venue closed as the Lauderhill Mall Cinemas 1 & 2 with “A View to a Kill” and “Brewster’s Millions” with admission at $1.50 for all seats on July 30, 1985. It looked to be all over but the venue had two last brief blips of operation returning as a first-run house in early October until closing October 27, 1985 with “Silver Bullet". It returned in March of 1986 as a 99 cent sub-run discount house hoping to make it to the end of its 20-year leasing agreement but failing quickly.
The cinema building was retrofitted for other purposes and was most recently used for medical services. The mall continued into the 2020’s with a dizzying array of retail and service providers coming and going throughout its 50-plus years of operation.
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