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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Chains and who they bought up (Page 2)

 
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Author Topic: Chains and who they bought up
Kyle Muldrow
Member

Posts: 143
From: Laguna Hills, CA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted May 14, 2006 01:07 PM      Profile for Kyle Muldrow   Author's Homepage   Email Kyle Muldrow         Edit/Delete Post 
I can give some info on chains buying other chains in St. Louis, although this is only good from about 1977 to now. Anything further back than that, someone else will have to look it up.

Around 1977 there were three local chains that dominated the movie scene in St. Louis: Wehrenberg Theaters, Arthur Theaters, and Mid-America Theaters. GCC ran about 6-7 theaters in shopping centers and Mann ran two cinemas in St. Louis around this time. The first to fall by the wayside was Arthur. They ran a lot of houses in the city of St. Louis and, while they expanded into the county, didn't really do it soon enough to stay competitive. Wehrenberg evetually bought up whatever Arthur houses were left open about 1977-78 (I want to say 5 or 6, but that's up for debate).

The second chain to go under was Mid-America. Although their movie houses were all in St. Louis County and not the city, their mistake (IMHO) was to put up a very simple 1 or 2 screen house in almost every little strip mall they could find. They also programmed a lot of X-rated movies back in the 70s, more than the other chains. The early 80s were hard on Mid-America, and they eventually were purchased by RKO around 1983-84. Their ads in the newspaper referred to the chain as "RKO-MidAmerica Theaters". This didn't last long too long, as AMC bought up whatever Mid-America houses were left (there were about 5)around 1986 (not sure if that's the exact year, but it's pretty close).

GCC kept about 4-5 theaters open before abandoning St. Louis altogether in 1990, when Wehrenberg acquired their theaters.

Wehrenberg Theaters is still running to this day, although they did file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2000. The company managed to survive bankruptcy without getting bought out, however, and has built new theaters in Chesterfield, MO, Cedar Rapids, IA, Bloomington, IL, and is set to open another new theater in Dardenne Prairie, MO (western St. Charles County) this month, if everything is on schedule.

I believe Wehrenberg took over one of the Mann theaters (the Mark Twain in South County), only to close it just a few years later. I believe that building is still standing and is used as a banquet facility. I have no idea what happened to the other Mann theater (Cypress Village, on St. Charles Rock Road, near Northwest Plaza), except that it's been torn down.

As for buildings still standing from the old chains, I believe the only Mid-America theater still standing is the Esquire in Clayton. The only Arthur theatre still standing is the St. Andrews Cinema in St. Charles (I think). The Esquire is still a first-run house, while the St. Andrews is a discount house (has been since 1982). As for GCC, the old Chesterfield Mall 4 was the last original building still standing (it was an outlot), although it's probably been torn down now that the AMC 14 has opened in the mall. GCC's old locations at Jamestown Mall, Northwest Plaza, and Mid-Rivers Mall were replaced by larger theaters by Wehrenberg (Northwest's is now closed). And, for good measure, I think the only closed Wehrenberg theaters still standing are the Northwest Plaza 9 and the Halls Ferry 14.

Regal Cinemans and Great Escape Theaters have opened new-builds in St. Louis.

WHEW!! OK, there's my excuse for wasting time on a Sunday afternoon. If anything is inaccurate or if I left anything out, please feel free to correct...politely [Big Grin]

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Adam Martin
Administrator

Posts: 1090
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted May 14, 2006 01:47 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
Wehrenberg took over the Mann Cypress Village and it was demolished in 1988 when the Cypress Village shopping center was redeveloped.

Auditorium 1 was a changeover booth with 6000-ft reels and auditorium 2 was a platter booth with a Drive-In/SPECO platter.

Here's a photo of my dad and sister in the booth next to the projector for auditorium 2 in 1981 before Wehrenberg took over. Somewhere, I have photos of me running the booth at age 11 ... must be in storage.

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Kyle Muldrow
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Posts: 143
From: Laguna Hills, CA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted May 14, 2006 09:09 PM      Profile for Kyle Muldrow   Author's Homepage   Email Kyle Muldrow         Edit/Delete Post 
Adam, do you know how long Wehrenberg ran the Cypress Village? Was it closed before being torn down? And am I right in recalling the Mark Twain was a twin, just like Cypress Village?

Seems this theater bug runs in the family with you, doesn't it? [Smile]

Thanks for the info!

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Kyle Muldrow
Member

Posts: 143
From: Laguna Hills, CA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted May 15, 2006 03:29 PM      Profile for Kyle Muldrow   Author's Homepage   Email Kyle Muldrow         Edit/Delete Post 
I need to make a couple corrections:

The St. Andrews Cinema is not the only former Arthur Theater that is still standing. First, how could I forget the Fabulous Fox Theatre on N. Grand Blvd. in Midtown St. Louis? That gem is still standing and is now used for live performances, although they have done movies in there a few times. Also, the Shady Oak in Clayton is still around, the Hi-Pointe on McCausland is still going strong as an art house, and I believe the Avalon on S. Kingshighway in the city is still standing. Of course, the Hi-Pointe is the only one of those still showing movies.

Here is a possible list of all the former Arthur Theaters taken over by Wehrenberg:

Shady Oak (Clayton)
St. Andrews (St. Charles)
Stadium Cinema 1 (near old Busch Stadium)
Stadium Cinema 2 (near old Busch Stadium)
St. Ann 4-Screen Drive-In (on the Rock Road)

I don't believe Wehrenberg ever took over the Avalon or the Hi-Pointe. I believe they just went independent.

If I've left anything out, feel free to post.

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Chris Utley
Senior Member

Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted May 16, 2006 08:36 AM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
I guess you mean "still standing" as in the buildings are still standing. 'Cuz none of them are showing movies anymore.

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Kyle Muldrow
Member

Posts: 143
From: Laguna Hills, CA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted May 16, 2006 06:53 PM      Profile for Kyle Muldrow   Author's Homepage   Email Kyle Muldrow         Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, I guess so...if it's "still standing", it's not showing movies anymore...although the Hi-Pointe is still showing movies.

You know what that means, Chris? The infamous Fine Arts Theater (run by Mid-America) in U. City is still standing as well, although it's now a Chinese seafood restaurant. The stories from that place could fill up a whole topic by themselves, couldn't they? [Big Grin] [Eek!] [oogle]

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Chris Utley
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Posts: 631
From: Torrance, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted May 16, 2006 09:32 PM      Profile for Chris Utley   Author's Homepage   Email Chris Utley         Edit/Delete Post 
I know I'd never eat there!

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