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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinema Yak   » Where was the first multiplex?? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Where was the first multiplex??
Daniel Fuentz

Posts: 212
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Registered: Mar 2003

 - posted June 15, 2003 02:38 AM      Profile for Daniel Fuentz   Email Daniel Fuentz         Edit/Delete Post 
The article about the Northgate got me to wondering where the first theater built as a multiplex was located, and when it was built. The Northgate was the first multiplex in Fresno (4 screens), and it opened on Dec. 25, 1971.

Digging around on the internet, I found the opening year for the Festival in Walnut Creek, which was 1969. I also found an interesting article with various milestones in the cinema industry.
It does give the opening date for the first twin theater, but I was thinking more along the lines of a theater built with 3 more screens.

[ June 15, 2003, 04:48 AM: Message edited by: Daniel Fuentz ]

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Adam Martin

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

 - posted June 15, 2003 09:03 AM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
Edwards Cinemas claims the first multiplex was the two-screen Alhambra in Alhambra, California. In 1937, the two auditoriums were known as the Alhambra and the Gold.

The theater was located at Main and Atlantic, where the Edwards Atlantic Palace 10 is now located. There is a historic designation plaque on the sidewalk in front of the theater.

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Ken Roe

Posts: 66
From: London, England
Registered: May 2003

 - posted June 15, 2003 11:20 AM      Profile for Ken Roe   Author's Homepage   Email Ken Roe         Edit/Delete Post 
The first Multiplex to open in the UK was The Point, Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire. It opened on 29th November 1985, operated by AMC(American Multi Cinema) it had 10 screens with a total seating capacity of 2,026.

In later years it has been known as UCI The Point 10, Milton Keynes.

On 23rd May 2003 it became Easycinema 10, a 'no frills' cinema that charges 30p (that's $0.18c) a ticket, which are purchased on line, or at a machine in the lobby, no concessions (you bring your own) and there is a minimum number of staff. Currently there is a problem with the major distributers who won't allow it to screen the latest blockbusters so it's playing second run movies, opening evenings only.

The first purpose built twin cinema in the UK (that I know of) was the Regal Twins, Oxford Road, Manchester. Opened 20th September 1930 they were located on the 2nd floor of the building (above shops and a floor of offices) and were reached from the entrance hall by either stairs or a lift. Each cinema had its own seperate foyer, and they were built back to back with the projection box in the centre, serving both screens. Each screen seated 800. From 29th July 1962 they were re-named Studio 1 and Studio 2. From March 1972 they were sub-divided into 5 screens, known as Studios 1-5. Last operated by the Cannon Group, they were closed on 25th September 1986. After laying empty for many years, in 1999, the theatres were converted into the Dancehouse Theatre.

The first cinema in the UK (also reputedly the World?) to be converted into 2 screens was the Odeon, Nottingham. Originally opened 4th December 1933 as the Ritz. The architects were Verity and Beverly who provided a cinema capacity of 2,500. It was re-named Odeon in 1944.

It was converted to Odeon 1(924 seats) and Odeon 2(1,450 seats) opening July 1985. Later it was sub-divided again into a total of 6 screens. It closed in 2001 and plans are afoot for it to be gutted and converted into a nightclub.

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Mark Lensenmayer
New Member

Posts: 27
From: Columbus, OH
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted June 15, 2003 05:31 PM      Profile for Mark Lensenmayer   Email Mark Lensenmayer         Edit/Delete Post 
The Bexley Theater in Bexley, Ohio (a near-east suburb of Columbus) was built as a twin screen in 1935. When it opened, they showed the same film at the same time on both screens through a weird system of mirrors. Very innovative, with a specially designed speaker system.

Torn down for a McDonald's Drive-Thru that folded rather quickly.

Bexley Theatre

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Christofer Meissner
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Lawrence, KS
Registered: Jun 2003

 - posted June 16, 2003 12:31 PM      Profile for Christofer Meissner   Email Christofer Meissner         Edit/Delete Post 
To the best of my (previous) knowledge, the first multiplex (i.e. twin) theatre was the Cinema I-Cinema II, opened in New York City in June 1962. AMC claims that the Parkway I & II in Kansas City was the first multiplex, but it did not open until July 1963, a good year after the Cinema I-II in NYC (by which time there were a number of additional twin theatres open, most by General Cinema). It may be true, however, that the Parkway I-II was the first twin to be located *inside* an enclosed shopping center.

I had previously heard something about a twin theatre by Edwards opening in 1937. The info about the Bexley in 1935 is new to me though! Any additional information about either of these (especially citations to articles in newspapers or periodicals) would be greatly appreciated! I am currently writing my doctoral dissertation in film studies on the rise of the multiplex movie theatre (discussed more in a separate post in this forum). They prefer that you actually have documentation for things you say in those kinds of things! So, I am especially interested in this thread, and I might be able to answer (might, I said!) any other questions anyone has regarding early multiplexes. Thanks!

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Ron Keillor

Posts: 125
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: May 2003

 - posted June 16, 2003 12:52 PM      Profile for Ron Keillor   Email Ron Keillor         Edit/Delete Post 
Not built as cinemas, but later used that way, the Elgin Theatres in Toronto, Ont. are of interest.

"Designated a national historic site in 1982, the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the last "double-decker" or stacked Edwardian theatre facility in the world. Built in 1913 as the flagship of the famous Loews chain of vaudeville theatres, the 1,500-seat Elgin theatre (downstairs) is a sumptuous affair with royal boxes and exquisite gilded plaster details. Upstairs, however, is the magical Winter Garden, named for the trompe l'oeil paintings of vines and pastoral, and the fabulous simulated fire-proof garden that hangs from the roof, including thousands of beech boughs. Multi-million dollar renovations mean that for all the ambiance, these two theatres are state-of-the-art."

(from pages)
There's a nice picture of one of the interiors at

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Bob Maar
New Member

Posts: 13
From: New York, NY
Registered: Jun 2003

 - posted July 01, 2003 06:55 AM      Profile for Bob Maar   Email Bob Maar         Edit/Delete Post 
To my knowledge the first twin theatre in New York City which opened in 1934 and closed in 1937. This theatre was called Trans-Lux "The Modern Theatre". The auditoriums were call - The Theatre on the right and The Theatre on the left. The Theatre on the Right played only Newsreels and the Theatre on the Left played Short Subjects. After the first six months of operation the dividing wall was removed and the theatre became a single screen. In 1937 Trans-Lux sold the location to make way for Jack Dempsey's Restaurant. Trans-Lux moved down the block to the other side of 49th Street and opened a single screen 512 seat Newsreel Theatre. The original site is now an electronics Store on the West side of Broadway between 49th and 50th Street, just above Tin Pan Alley.

Source: Trans-Lux Biography Of A Corporation by Christine Grenz
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 68-085

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Bill Gabel

Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted July 01, 2003 07:29 AM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
The Jack Dempsey's Restaurant and now the electronics store are located in the Brill Building. The Brill Building is located at the corner of 49th and Broadway. My office is in the Brill Building. Across the street was the Rivoli Theatre (now razed).

One of the early 70's multiplexs in Southern California was the AMC Rosemead 4. The building is still there, it is now a Toys-R-US location.

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Bill Gabel

Posts: 288
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted July 01, 2003 05:21 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
This is The Multiplexes that General Cinema operated at the start of 1970.

  • Cinema 1 & 2 Hayward
    Cinema 1 & 2 Montclair
    Cinema 1 & 2 Sacramento
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Newington
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Ft. Lauderdale
  • Cinema 1 & 2 @ Ford City , Chicago
    Meadowdale 1 & 2 Elgin
  • Glendale Cinema 1 & 2 Indianapolis
    College Mall Cinema 1 & 2
  • College Square Cinema 1 & 2 Cedar Falls
  • Lakeside Cinema 1 & 2 New Orleans
    Oakwood Cinema 1 & 2 New Orleans
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Braintree
    Cinema 1 & 2 Brockton
    Cinema 1 & 2 Burlington
    Cinema 1 & 2 Framington
    Cinema 1 & 2 Peabody
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Livonia
    Cinema 1 & 2 Roseville
    Cinema 1 & 2 Warren
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Edina
  • Sunset Hill Cinema 1 & 2 St.Louis
New Hampshire
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Bedford
New York
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Amherst
North Carolina
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Charlotte
  • Chapel Hill 1 & 2 Akron
    Parmatown Cinema 1 & 2 Parma
  • Cinema 1 & 2 Philadelphia
  • Northpark 1 & 2 Dallas
    Seminary South Cinema 1 & 2
    Fort Worth
    Cinema 1 & 2 @ Gulfgate Houston
    Cinema 1 & 2 @ Northline Houston
    Cinema 1 & 2 @ Meyerland Houston
    Cinema 1 & 2 San Antonio
  • Renton Village Cinema 1 & 2 Renton
    Villa Plaza Cinema 1 & 2 Tacoma
These are plexes opening up in the first half of 1970 for GCC.
(Note: The Glendale Cinemas 3 & 4 , were the first add on's to Cinema 1 & 2 at GCC)
  • Naugatuck Valley Cinema 1 & 2
  • Yorktown Cinema 1 & 2 Lombard
  • Glendale Cinema 3 & 4 Indianapolis
  • Duck Creek Plaza Cinema 1 & 2
  • Woodland Cinema 1 & 2 Grand Rapids
New York
  • Thruway Plaza Cinema 1 & 2 Buffalo
  • Southpark Cinema 1 & 2 Dallas

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Mark Richey

Posts: 90
From: Fort Worth, TX
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted July 05, 2003 05:33 PM      Profile for Mark Richey   Author's Homepage   Email Mark Richey         Edit/Delete Post 
Southpark Cinema 1 & 2 Dallas

Did this end up becoming the Northpark East, which later became the Northpark 3&4? It was located south of Park Lane. Of course, so was Northpark I & II, as was the entire Northpark Mall (the name does make sense since it's located between Park and Northwest Highway, but still, it's odd).

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Mike Law

Posts: 60
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jul 2003

 - posted August 19, 2003 08:25 PM      Profile for Mike Law   Email Mike Law         Edit/Delete Post 
Opened a can of worms, didn't you Daniel??? Although I could be wrong, I read your question to be that of when was the "modern" multiplex opened. I was always under the impression that the ARDEN FAIR 4 CINEMAS in Sacramento, circa 1969ish was the first. In California at least. It was opened and operated by Transcontinental Theatres (Lippert)until about 1981 when UA took over.

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Mike Rivest

Posts: 96
From: Montreal,QC
Registered: Aug 2003

 - posted April 30, 2004 03:29 PM      Profile for Mike Rivest   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Rivest         Edit/Delete Post 
Bigger plexes:

in 1973 the Redrock in Las Vegas, NV expanded to 11 screens, it closed in 2000

in 1979 Cineplex in Toronto opened with 18 mini cinemas and expanded by 1981 to 21 screens, closed 2000

in 1986 the Studio 28 in Grand Rapids expanded to 20 screens (full size)

in early 90s Kinepolis in Belgum had some huge megaplex

in 1995 AMC opens the Grand 24 in Dallas, TX

in 1996-7 AMC starts opening their 30-plexes

an 35-plex is under construction in Lisbon.

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Richard A Stegman Jr

Posts: 267
From: Calimesa,CA
Registered: Jun 2003

 - posted June 07, 2004 06:48 AM      Profile for Richard A Stegman Jr   Email Richard A Stegman Jr         Edit/Delete Post 
The Redrock will rise again soon.

This time as Redrock Station,a hotel/casino owned by Station Casinos which has other properties in the Vegas area.

And,like the others,(Boulder,Sunset,Green Valley Ranch & Texas. i know i'm missing one)it will have a Regal multiplex.

This one a 18 screener.

It's being built on the old Redrock 11 site.

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Scott D. Neff
Tour Guide

Posts: 661
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Feb 2003

 - posted June 07, 2004 10:32 AM      Profile for Scott D. Neff   Email Scott D. Neff         Edit/Delete Post 
But will the new Redrock match it's predecessor with a crazy and confusing floor plan?

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Richard A Stegman Jr

Posts: 267
From: Calimesa,CA
Registered: Jun 2003

 - posted June 07, 2004 05:52 PM      Profile for Richard A Stegman Jr   Email Richard A Stegman Jr         Edit/Delete Post 
One could hope.

But this IS Regal we're talking about.

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