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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Old New England,Netoco, M&P, Sack and more (Page 2)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Old New England,Netoco, M&P, Sack and more
Roger Katz
Member

Posts: 339
From: Thomaston, CT
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 27, 2005 06:08 AM      Profile for Roger Katz   Email Roger Katz         Edit/Delete Post 
I know the Forestville Theatres in Bristol, CT were built by Sack just before they became USA Cinemas.

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David Wodeyla
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Posts: 65
From: Natick, MA
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted February 27, 2005 04:21 PM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
Sack also operated the Capri and Copley theatres on Huntington Ave.

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Ron Newman
Member

Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 14, 2005 05:22 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
I'm very much looking forward to this new book, which is supposed to come out later this spring or summer:

The Theatres of Boston
A Stage and Screen History
by Donald C. King

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David Wodeyla
Member

Posts: 65
From: Natick, MA
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted March 21, 2005 12:50 PM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
In the late 1950's until the late 1960's, Ben Sack had complete control of Boston exhibition with his chain of theatres. A man named Allen Friedberg, began working as an Assistant Manager in 1957 and worked his way up to become Sack's General Manager. Around 1970, Friedberg hired a former Assistant Manager from General Cinema named William Glazer to be his assistant, as well as a former GCC DM named Ed Dineen.
In this same period, the circuit was sold to a conglomerate and renamed USA Cinemas with Ben Sack retiring. A few years later, Freidberg engineered the sale of the theatres to Loews, and negotiated a title and salary for himself with the new owners. During this transition, Glazer and Dineen were retired from the businees.

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Ron Newman
Member

Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 21, 2005 01:00 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
Sack Theatres didn't have a monopoly in Boston in the 1960s and certainly not in the 50s when the chain was first coming together.

In the 1960s they competed with Loew's Orpheum, the Astor, the Charles (then a Walter Reade theatre), the RKO Boston/Cinerama, the RKO Keith Memorial (before Sack bought it and renamed it the Savoy), the Mayflower, the Paramount, the Park Square, the Kenmore Square, the Exeter, the Paris, the Abbey, the Symphony Cinemas, the Uptown, the Fine Arts, the Fenway, and others I've forgotten about.

Sack during that time had only the Gary, the Saxon, the Beacon Hill, the Music Hall (starting in 1962), the Savoy (starting in 1965), and the Capri (which closed, moved, closed again, and was then sort of replaced by the Cheri).

The Sack monopoly only coalesced in the mid-1980s, when the Exeter closed (in 1984) and then they bought the Nickelodeon (1986, by which time they had become USACinemas).

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David Wodeyla
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Posts: 65
From: Natick, MA
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted March 21, 2005 03:39 PM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
Agreed that in the late 1950's, Sack didn't "own" the city because he was just beginning. I think he only had 4 screens in 1957. When I say he was number one in Boston, I am referring to the ability to book any release he wanted into his theatres, and the grossing ability proven by his theatres. This, coupled with his knack for super promotions and a great relationship with the press, made his downtown houses top grossers.
In the years when the RKO Keiths Memorial aka Savoy, the Cheri, the Music Hall, Saxon, Gary, Beacon Hill, and 57, were in their prime, his chain was number one in the city. Granted, there was an occasional surprise hit in one of the art-type houses, like the Exeter, or Symphony, but for the most part, the major distributors wanted their films in a Sack Theatre in Boston.
I don't even consider the Paramount nor Uptown, both which were on the decline. The Paramount was losing money in those years, only receiving film because they played day and date with the big three suburban GCC's, and we won't suggest that the Mayflower and Pilgrim had any impact as subrun or softporn houses. As for the Cinerama, it had an occasional success, but not enough to keep it from going out of business shortly after 2001 Space Odyssey ran there. I think Ice Station Zebra was it's final pic. The Orpheum was grand and in the perfect location, but didn't gross like the Savoy next door.
The Astor and Charles had occasional moments, as did the Paris in those years, but they didn't control the distributors the way Sack did. And many smaller theatres, like the Boston, Center, and a few others, weren't highly regarded as competetive at the time. To sum up my view, the number of screens in the city don't measure the actual leverage and power of Ben Sack in his prime.
(edited to add, the original Kenmore was a successful venue for art films, an independent which was torn down to make way for the Mass Pike, and the Fenway Theatre played some of the art films, doubled as a concert hall from time to time...I remember going there in 1967 to see the Beach Boys, another time to see the Doors.) Sometimes counting the number of screens doesn't give an indication of the state of the business in a city. One has to evaluate the whole picture.

[ March 21, 2005, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: David Wodeyla ]

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Ron Newman
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Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted January 09, 2007 01:33 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
What is now the AMC-Loews Assembly Square Cinema, in Somerville MA, will close next Monday, January 15. It is the only remaining former Sack theatre to make it through a corporate name change (to USACinemas) and two mergers into the AMC chain.

Three other former Sack Theatres still operate under local independent ownership:

CinemaSalem - Salem
Hollywood Hits - Danvers
Lexington Flick - Lexington

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David Au
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Posts: 133
From: Walnut Creek, CA
Registered: Sep 2006


 - posted January 10, 2007 02:51 AM      Profile for David Au   Email David Au         Edit/Delete Post 
Why is it closing? Is it not doing too well?

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Ron Newman
Member

Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted January 10, 2007 04:44 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
It's 26 years old, very neglected, and overshadowed by newer theatres with stadium seating. Not the kind of place AMC wants to operate. The surrounding area is about to undergo extensive redevelopment, and perhaps the property owner wants to demolish it in order to participate in that future.

Here's the CinemaTreasures page about it.

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