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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Tacoma Mall Theatre, Tacoma WA

   
Author Topic: Tacoma Mall Theatre, Tacoma WA
Mark Campbell
Member

Posts: 437
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted April 01, 2007 09:09 AM      Profile for Mark Campbell   Email Mark Campbell         Edit/Delete Post 
The Tacoma Public Library has some great pictures of the Tacoma Mall Theatre including the grand opening gala, lobby replete with the famous chandeliers, and auditorium (pre-split) with its deep curved screen:

Page 1:
http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/images/dt3.asp?TOTAL=21&UNIQUE=185648AM390&PAGE=1

Page 2:
http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/images/dt3.asp?TOTAL=21&UNIQUE=185648AM390&PAGE=2

Page 3:
http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/images/dt3.asp?TOTAL=21&UNIQUE=185648AM390&PAGE=3

Also, the Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre has a long lost cousin in Lakewood, CA. In 1968 Pacific Theatres opened an identical theatre to the Tacoma Mall Theatre in Lakewood, California. And it still exists. Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but I think United Theatres, a Pacific Theatres company, built the Tacoma Mall theatre.

The same chandeliers that graced the Tacoma Mall Twin during its life STILL HANG at Pacific's Lakewood Center 16! The 2 theatres have had rather different lives however. Where Tacoma Mall Theatre's auditorium was twinned (one big, one medium sized) the Lakewood kept its large 1200 seat auditorium intact and added screens in 1974 and 1999 resulting in a 16-plex.

I have not been in the theatre, but peeked in the lobby windows before business hours and saw the chandeliers, the curved lobby, similar box office, everything that would make fans of the old Tacoma Mall Twin feel nostalgic. I hope to get down to see a film someday. Hopefully they have not altered the large auditorium too much so I can see what Tacoma's was like before twinning.

Here is a link to a newspaper article that shows a model for the Lakewood (look familiar?):
http://cinerama.topcities.com/lakewoodcenter.htm

Here is Cinematour's photo and detailsof the Lakewood: (again, look familiar?):
http://www.cinematour.com/tour.php?db=us&id=2081

I found other photos on some website, both old and new (including the inside of the large auditorium!), however, since they are not my property I shouldn't post them. I will try to find the link again.

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Dan Roben
Member

Posts: 155
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted April 01, 2007 12:57 PM      Profile for Dan Roben           Edit/Delete Post 
Mark,

Thanks for the links. I had never seen the interior of the Tacoma Mall as a single screen.

I am 99 percent certain that you are correct in that United Theaters built the Tacoma Mall Theater. I know for a fact that they built the Southcenter Theater, which was opened around the same time. Both had 1200 seats, curved lobbies, giant curved screens etc.

United Theaters was primarily known here in Washington as a drive-in circuit, but in the late 60s and early 70s made a foray into "hardtops" with the building of the above two theaters and taking over operations of the Cinerama, Varsity, and Ridgemont Theaters, all located in Seattle. I believe they also operated a theater in Bremerton, but I'm not certain of that.

Today, all that remains of United Theaters is the Valley 6 Drive-In located between Kent and Auburn WA and it's on life support.

Amusing aside. United Theaters liked to call their regular theaters "walk-ins" in their circuit ads. Makes sense, United being a drive-in centric operation.

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Mark Campbell
Member

Posts: 437
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted April 01, 2007 02:07 PM      Profile for Mark Campbell   Email Mark Campbell         Edit/Delete Post 
Dan,

Somewhere along the way I found and grabbed offline pictures of Pacific's Lakewood Theatre mentioned above (can't remember what site) and the picture of the auditorium from the rear is EXACTLY the same as the one for the Tacoma Mall Theatre on the Tacoma Public Library site. Something tells me that since Pacific/United had identical theatres built around the same time in different states, the only bothered to photograph one and send that out with the press details for BOTH. So which theater is really in the shot, who knows? (I tried to find differences in curtain folds etc. but there are none).

I would really love to see pictures of the Tacoma Mall auditoriums after the split if anyone had any. Many a blockbuster I saw there growing up in Tacoma in the late 70's and early 80's. I also worked at the theatre one summer home from college in '89. It would also be interesting to know what color the curtains were in the original auditorium. After the split, the large auditorium was red and the small auditorium was yellow, similar to the Southcenter Theatre.

Speaking of the Southcenter, that theater holds a special place in my heart because it was the first place I saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark", in 70mm no less. Tacoma Mall Twin and Southcenter Theatre, RIP.

Also speaking of the Valley 6 Drive-In, it was looking more like the Valley 5 on my last trip up to Seattle. One screen had several holes that looked to be from wind damage.

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Michael Coate
Member

Posts: 56
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted April 01, 2007 11:10 PM      Profile for Michael Coate   Email Michael Coate         Edit/Delete Post 
A few photos and a grand opening newspaper ad for Pacific's LAKEWOOD CENTER

Sorry, I don't have any photos of the TACOMA MALL, although I do have some newspaper ads for a handful of their 70mm engagements. (Maybe someday Bill and I will do a "70mm in Seattle" list. LOL!)

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Mark Campbell
Member

Posts: 437
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted April 02, 2007 12:07 AM      Profile for Mark Campbell   Email Mark Campbell         Edit/Delete Post 
Michael,

You found the site where I got the photos for Pacific's Lakewood. Thanks! I would be able to help out a list with of 70mm engagements at the Tacoma Mall. I used to keep track and kept some of the ads as a teen (it's a wonder I ever got a date, let alone married!!). I did work there for the summer of 1989 when they had their final 70mm engagement: "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". The played the film on both screens (35mm in the small house). Eventually the small house dropped the 35mm showing of Indy and booked "Do the Right Thing" to many a sold-out audience. From there the big screen went DTS digital in 1993 for "Jurassic Park" (with the 2nd screen playing "Jurassic" non-DTS simultaneosly). It petered out from there with Regal's Lakewood Stadium 15 (an Act III design) opening nearby. Tacoma Mall's last BIG engagement was Star Wars Episode II. Unfortunately Lakewood was playing it as well, less than 3 miles away...

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Michael Coate
Member

Posts: 56
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted April 02, 2007 01:27 AM      Profile for Michael Coate   Email Michael Coate         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Michael,

You found the site where I got the photos for Pacific's Lakewood. Thanks!

Mark...I didn't have to look very hard to "find" that website considering that IT'S MY SITE!!! (I guess no one reads credits or bylines anymore...)

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Mark Campbell
Member

Posts: 437
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted April 02, 2007 08:15 AM      Profile for Mark Campbell   Email Mark Campbell         Edit/Delete Post 
Nice work! That's a lot of research!

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Matt Lutthans
Member

Posts: 51
From: Marysville, WA
Registered: Dec 2003


 - posted April 06, 2008 01:56 PM      Profile for Matt Lutthans   Email Matt Lutthans         Edit/Delete Post 
Methinks somebody at United had a little fun with their photographs! I'm guessing that since the theatres were "twins" to each other, they used one set of photos to represent both theatres. The photo below was given to me by the first manager of the nearby (to Tacoma) Southcenter, and it looks JUST like the photos from the Lakewood (CA) batch...only mine's in glorious color. :-) I'm attaching the photos in a horribly botched form only because I don't have permission to share the photo from the person who gave it to me, so I'm just providing a glimpse. I also have a similar shot of the rear of the auditorium showing the "disappearing projection booth," in which a small curtain would open and close, hiding the projection port when the show was not in progress. Kinda cool! The Southcenter and Tacoma Mall both had that unusual feature. Did the Lakewood??

 -

Matt Lutthans
Marysville, WA

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Jerry Norwood
New Member

Posts: 43
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Jun 2008


 - posted June 26, 2008 11:08 AM      Profile for Jerry Norwood   Email Jerry Norwood         Edit/Delete Post 
If someone was smart, they would try to build a new theater near or at Tacoma Mall. It is far enough from the Regal Lakewood Stadium 15 to have it's own audience base....though it would have some impact.

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Mark Campbell
Member

Posts: 437
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted June 26, 2008 11:47 AM      Profile for Mark Campbell   Email Mark Campbell         Edit/Delete Post 
I think (as much as i dislike stadium theatres, especially ones with top-down masking) that Tacoma is due for a new multiplex. West Tacoma has the old AMC Narrows Plaza 8 that is in the same zone as the Tacoma Central 6, 2 mile away. North Tacoma/Downtown have the 3 screen non-profit Grand. Thats it! (not counting Lakewood which is way overscreened with the Lakewood 15 and AMC Lakewood Towncenter 12 which do day/date with each other).

I do hear Galaxy wants to put something downtown.

By comparison Bellevue has at least 3 zones and the Renton/Tukwilla area (in area vastly smaller than Tacoma) has 2 zones with 3 multiplexes and 2 more on the way!

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Jerry Norwood
New Member

Posts: 43
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: Jun 2008


 - posted June 26, 2008 11:54 AM      Profile for Jerry Norwood   Email Jerry Norwood         Edit/Delete Post 
I heard sometime too about downtown Tacoma getting a theater, but ultimately I think that would be a mistake. Downtown Tacoma to me still seems like the "Dead Zone"....even after all these revitalization projects.

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