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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Sonny & Eddy's Theatres -- Boston, Cambridge, Newton

Author Topic: Sonny & Eddy's Theatres -- Boston, Cambridge, Newton
Ron Newman

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

 - posted February 22, 2005 07:39 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
Sonny & Eddy's Theatres was a small art-house chain that operated in the Boston area from at least the early 1970s through the early 1980s. I don't know who 'Sonny' was, but Eddy's real name was Ed Lider. Towards the end, they just called themselves Eddy's Theatres; perhaps Sonny died or sold off his interest in the chain.

I've also seen reference to this chain as "Fall River Theatres", which doesn't make much sense to me since Fall River is a city 50+ miles south of Boston.

When I arrived in Boston in the early 1970s, I recall the chain consisting of these theatres:

Allston Cinemas (2 screens)
Exeter Street Theatre, Boston (1 large screen)
Central Square Cinemas, Cambridge (2 screens)
Galeria Cinema, Cambridge (1 screen)
Academy Twin Cinemas, Newton Centre (2 screens)

These theatres specialized in obscure, offbeat, cult, and foreign films. King of Hearts ran at the Central Square for at least four years (sometimes by itself, sometimes on a double feature with another film.) Harold and Maude ran at the Allston for at least a year, maybe two. The Rocky Horror Picture Show had weekly midnight showings at the Exeter Street.

None of them are still open today.

The Allston was sold to the Showcase Cinema chain in 1985. Showcase never understood how to program it properly for a student neighborhood, and instead showed an endless succession of mediocre Hollywood second runs and move-overs. They closed it in 2002. A few months later, it reopened as the Bombay Cinema, showing Indian films, but this lasted only until early 2004. It has since been demolished and replaced by a Staples store.

The Exeter closed in July 1984, unable to compete with the Sack Copley Place 9-plex a block away, which had opened earlier that year. It was converted to retail space, first Conran's furniture store, then later Waterstone's Bookstore (which itself became a beloved Back Bay institution). After Waterstone's decided to close its US stores, the space was converted to offices for a dot-com "incubator" called idealab! (yes, with a small "i" and an exclamation point). They got into financial trouble and closed this Boston office. Since then, the building has sat vacant for years with a "For Lease" sign on the glass doors.

The Central Square was sold to the operator of the Brattle Theatre some time in the late 1970s, and closed in April 1980. It became part of the medical laboratory of first Bioran, and then Quest Diagnostics.

The Galeria was sold to a later operator of the Brattle in the early 1980s, who renamed it the Janus Cinema. It was sold again a few years later to the operator of the nearby Harvard Square Theatre. Both the Janus and the Harvard Square were bought by USACinemas (formerly Sack Theatres) in November 1986. Loews bought USACinemas in March 1988, and closed the Janus in October 1998. It has become retail space.

The Newton Academy hung on into the late 1980s or maybe even early 1990s. I don't remember when it closed, or if it still belonged to 'Eddy' when it did. A "Pier One Imports" store now occupies the building.

If you have any more information on this chain, its owners, its theatres, or when and how it started, please post here.

[ February 22, 2005, 12:15 PM: Message edited by: Ron Newman ]

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Ron Newman

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

 - posted February 23, 2005 07:29 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
I looked through some early 1975 microfilm of the Boston Phoenix, and noticed that the Harvard Square Theatre was also listed in the Sonny & Eddy's ad.

I don't know how long Sonny & Eddy's held onto it; eventually it became independent, then was bought by USACinemas which was in turn bought by Loews, who still run it today.

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