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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Old New England,Netoco, M&P, Sack and more (Page 1)

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

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


 - posted November 30, 2004 08:27 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
There are a lot of theatre chains no longer in existence. Does anyone have information beyond what we can all read on the Cinema Treasures web site, about the New England theatre chains that no longer exist, like Sack Theatres, or Netoco, or the Mullen & Pinanski Corporation? For example, Sack Theatres isn't even listed on this site, nor Cinema Treasures. They were sold to Loews, I think. But maybe not. The Netoco group was probably divided up under anti trust legislation. When did that happen? Whatever happened to Mr Mullin and Mr Pinanski? Whatever happened to Jacob Lourie?
Any stories about the origins, history, demise, and more on these and probably others, might be of interest to the readers of this site.

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Adam Martin
Administrator

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From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted November 30, 2004 09:05 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
Absolutely! There is the capacity for adding a tour (sort of) for the circuits listed (and the capacity to add circuits that are no longer in existence).

If you have good information about the history of a circuit (not something you cut and pasted from another website), please email it to newsroom@cinematour.com and I'll get it added to the database.

As for Sack, I do believe that Loews took over. There may be bits and pieces of history scattered in the Boston tours.

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted December 01, 2004 05:21 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
It may help to know that the largest repository of theatre/cinema information in the hemisphere is the Theatre Historical Society of America which has a vast Archive where one can do research into not only theatres and cinemas, but also the chains that ran them. Most of their thousands of photos and millions of documents are cross indexed, so an inquiry may be in order. Go to the Archive page of their web site at: www.HistroricTheatres.org and note the arrangements to be made. Likely Adam will accept data from them.

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


 - posted December 01, 2004 07:28 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
I think it would be interesting and entertaining if we have readers of this forum post stories if they worked for any of the major chains.
Another interesting bit of information might be pictures of the old logos used on letterheads or newspaper ads. This kind of artwork is not often found.
I believe Sack Theatres changed their name to USA Cinemas, and later sold to Loews. Netoco was founded by Jacob Lourie and Sam Pinanski. Sam Pinanski teamed up with Martin Mullen to become M&P. There was a chain founded by Joseph Giles, later turned over to his son John. The Giles Ciruit, all 8 or so screens, were sold to General Cinema in the late 1940's. General Cinema was known as Phil Smith's Theatrical Enterprises, later General Drive-In.
There was a consent decree in 1948 which forced Paramount and the other film distributors to sell off their ownership of theatres.
Maybe a reader will remember some of the details of this court ruling, and how it affected the theatres.
If any of the above information is incorrect, I hope someone will comment and correct.

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


 - posted December 04, 2004 10:33 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
Another important chain in the 1940's was the E.M. Loew Co. sometimes confused with Loews of New York. Does anyone have information on what happened with the E.M. Loews theatres? I think most were small neighborhood throughout New England.
Was the E.M. Loews chain the same company as the Loews Poli theatres, or were they part of the New York company?
Are there any readers out there interested in sharing their knowledge with those of us unfamiliar with the details of the exhibition history?

[ December 08, 2004, 07:32 PM: Message edited by: David Wodeyla ]

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


 - posted December 21, 2004 06:53 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
In 1930, the St George Theatre in Framingham Massachusetts, opened by George Giles in 1923, changed it's name to the Paramount. It changed back to the St George in the late 1930's. Does anyone know if Paramount bought the entire Giles circuit in 1930? (The other Giles Theatre in town was the Gorman, which didn't change names.)
I notice in newspaper ads, it's also called Paramount Publix.

[ December 21, 2004, 09:02 AM: Message edited by: David Wodeyla ]

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William Hooper
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Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted December 21, 2004 11:24 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
$5 says that if you check newspaper ads before the theatre changed its name to Paramount, you'll find that the theatre had been playing Paramaount product already - to the extent that it was the "Paramount House".

Adolph Zukor's Paramount company & the road of Famous Players-Lasky leading there were trying to lock down theatres & cities to running Paramount product, & along the way, to get revenues from the theatres showing them. It was a "vertical integration" strategy. Local theatre chains looking to expand found that Paramount was interested in investing in their companies - theatres were sort of expensive things to build, big theatres VERY expensive things to build.

So a theatre chain would have a stock issue, Paramount would buy stock sometimes with an agreement to run Paramount programming. Each new theatre would usually have its own stock issue, & Paramount would buy a piece of that, too. Also, Paramount created "investment companies" like Southern Enterprises, which issued stock, & of which Paramount owned a large part. These investment companies would also buy into the stock issues of theatre companies & stock issues of individual theatres. So you would wind up with a company of which Paramount owned maybe 20% building a theatre, Paramount would additionally have about 20% of the issue for the theatre outright, & one or more of the theatre investment companies of which Paramount had a majority piece would *also* have a piece of the company & the theatre stock issues.

Paramount was doing this all over the US, it was mostly worked out by E. V. Richards. This gave Paramount a lot of investment & control of these theatres & companies. Paramount could thus be sort of under the radar in its theatre ownership. Paramount, to get its product into the theatres it wanted, instituted things like "block booking" which pretty much locked out product from other studios. This came to a head when United Artists complained to the Federal Trade Commission & a suit was instituted:
http://www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm/bookshelf/#June1997
http://www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm/bookshelf/9_ftc_3.htm

Notice that UA only could see the tip of the iceberg. The list of entangled entities was MUCH larger. It was screwier too, in the wild stock market days of the 1920s - shares handwritten on certificates, stuffed in suitcases, impossible to completely account for & organize. The local chains weren't 'puppets' of Paramount or Paramount branches, but were very tightly tied in. Paramount didn't need to do much else, & let the regional companies expand on their own.

Chicago's Balaban & Katz, whose chain had been involved in this way with Paramount, were hired by Paramount to to organize the theatre properties. They formed Publix (Paramount's theater arm), & began to straighten it all out for Paramount. By this time, the appearance of monopoly was being sort of reduced by the fact that Loew's (which had been building theatres all over the US), decided to buy & merge some studios, creating MGM, which was the studio to supply the Loew's houses in a vertical integration arrangement like Paramount's but which started from the other end.

By about 1929, Paramount (Publix) was deciding to just clean it all up & started negotiating to acquire complete ownership of theatres that it had invested in through whatever complicated means. This basically meant generous stock swaps of Paramount stock for the local theatre & company stock, & the amount went up until the local investor finally capitulated. Many of the houses were renamed Paramount (the choice of which houses was pretty much based on local issues).

Of course, the deal was all in stock swaps, & when the market crashed, everybody was broke, including Paramount. Everybody was just owning worthless paper, except Paramount which at that time at least owned the theaters.

You'll likely find that any other, smaller theaters in town owned by the same entity that owned the theatre that became the Paramount *also* ran Paramount product.

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David Wodeyla
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From: Natick, MA
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 - posted December 22, 2004 07:40 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
So I guess there wansn't a complete change in ownership, just some stock shuffling. I did notice the long-time manager left the week before the name change in order to run his own vaudeville shows in another facility in town. When I find the change back to St George, it'll be interesting to see if the Giles name is back. The other question would be if the marquee was changed from St George to Paramount.

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

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William Hooper
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From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted December 22, 2004 11:33 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
There was likely a change of ownership that was more than just stock shuffling. In other words, Paramount already owned some or most of the individual theatres, & bought them completely by offering Paramount/Publix stock to the individuals/companies that held the rest of the stock in that theatre. So ownership went to Paramount, the others who previously owned shares in the theatre just had Paramount stock.

The manager probably bailed before the ownership change, seeing better opportunities with an independent than with Paramount.

Also, after the market crashed, Paramount was bankrupt & sold at fire sale prices many of the theaters it had acquired complete ownership of only a few years earlier. Many were picked up by folks who were lucky enough to be able to wrangle some kind of deal - cash was scarce after the crash. It's not surprising that some of the theaters were picked back up by folks who'd owned entire chains of theatres that were gobbled up by Paramount - after all, the theatre business is what they knew & did. An example is that the Saenger chain was bought ought in a stock swap by Paramount in 1929, the market crashed, the E. V. Richards, who was a VP of Paramount & had been a VP of Saenger acquired from Paramount some of the theatres from the earlier Saenger chain & created a "new", smaller Saenger Theatres company to run them.

After the market crashed, if you could buy your theatre back from Paramount, or even just operate the now huge-drain theatre & use Paramount product, Paramount wanted to talk it to you.

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David Wodeyla
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From: Natick, MA
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 - posted December 23, 2004 04:47 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
The newspaper in April 1933 announced the renaming of the theatre back to St George, said that the long time manager was returning, and the ownership would be back in the hands of TriMount. (I haven't found a TriMount in a Film Daily yet, time for some more research.) Giles is still listed as owner in the book.

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Ron Newman
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Posts: 145
From: Somerville, MA
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 - posted February 20, 2005 08:50 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
I've posted a lot about Sack on CinemaTreasures, but it's probably worth assembling that history here as well. I moved to Boston in 1975, and never got out to the suburbs much, so I'm going to concentrate on Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville from that year forward.

In 1975, Sack operated the following theatres in Boston:
Savoy (2 screens - former RKO Keith Memorial, acquired in 1960s)
Saxon (1 screen - former Majestic, acquired in late 50s)
Gary (1 screen - former Plymouth, acquired in late 50s)
Music Hall (1 screen - former Metropolitan, acquired in 1962)
Cinema 57 (2 screens, built in very late 60s or early 70s)
Beacon Hill (1 screen, built in 1971, replaced an earlier Sack theatre of the same name on the same site)
Pi Alley (1 screen, built in very late 60s or early 70s)
Cheri (3 screens, built in 1966 - the city's first multiplex)

Around 1975, Sack acquired the Paris (1 screen).

In 1977, Sack acquired the Charles (3 screens), originally a Walter Reade theatre built in 1967.

In 1978 or so, the Gary closed. It was torn down to make way for a new State Transportation Building.

Also in 1978, Sack sold the Savoy to Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston, which renamed it the Opera House.

In 1980, Sack lost its lease on the Music Hall. It was turned over to a new nonprofit, the Metropolitan Center (which after a few years became the Wang Center).

In 1981, Sack opened the Assembly Square Cinema (8 screens) in Somerville. It was the largest number of theatres ever opened at one time and location in New England. Two years later, they added four more screens, for a total of 12, making this the largest multiplex in New England.

Somewhere in the early 80s, Sack turned the Pi Alley into a twin and the Beacon Hill into a triplex.

In 1983, Sack sold the Saxon to Emerson College, who subsequently restored it and gave it back its old name, the Majestic. This was the last of Sack's old (pre-1960s) theatres.

In 1984, Sack opened the Copley Place (9 screens).

In 1985, Sack changed its name to USACinemas.

In 1986, USACinemas bought the Nickelodeon. This gave the chain a monopoly in central Boston, as they now controlled every screen except a few porn and kung-fu houses in the Combat Zone.

Later in 1986, USACinemas bought the Harvard Square Theatre (then 3 screens) and the Janus Cinema (1 screen), both in Cambridge. It was the chain's first entry into the Cambridge market, and it gave them a near-monopoly. The only non-USACinema remaining in Cambridge was the Brattle Theatre, a repertory cinema.

In 1987, USACinemas closed the Pi Alley.

In 1988, Loews bought USACinemas - including the Charles, Beacon Hill, Cinema 57, Copley Place, Paris, Cheri, Nickelodeon, Janus, Harvard Square, and Assembly Square.

Over the following 17 years, Loews proceeded to close all of these except the last two.

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David Wodeyla
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From: Natick, MA
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 - posted February 22, 2005 05:43 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the history on Sack Theatres. Was the Paris a Walter
Reade house before Sack bought it?

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


 - posted February 22, 2005 06:39 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
I don't think so. On CinemaTreasures.com someone said that the Paris was run by an adult-film operator for awhile before Sack bought it, but I haven't looked through old newspapers to confirm this yet.

Sack also had another Boston theatre called the Capri, but it was torn down some time before I arrived in 1975.

There were other Sack theatres in suburbs like Danvers, Needham, and Natick, but I never paid much attention to them and can't provide any useful history. At one point I recall them owning what is now the (independent) Lexington Flick.

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


 - posted February 22, 2005 12:13 PM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
By the way, I've started another thread about Sonny & Eddy's Theatres, a small art-house chain that we had around Boston in the 1970s and early 80s. If you have any information about this chain, please post in that thread. Thanks.

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


 - posted February 26, 2005 07:32 AM      Profile for Ron Newman   Email Ron Newman         Edit/Delete Post 
Former Sack theatres still operating as either cinemas or live stage houses:

Music Hall - now Wang Center. Mostly live shows, but they show an old film for free on very occasional Monday nights.
Savoy - now Opera House. Live shows only.
Saxon - now Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College. Live shows only.
Cinema 57 - one of the former two screens is now the Stuart Street Playhouse. Live shows only.
Lexington Cinema - now independent Lexington Flick, 2 screens.
Danvers Cinema City - now independent Hollywood Hits Theatre, 7 screens.
Salem - now Patriot Cinemas at Museum Place Mall, 3 screens.

Here's a Boston Globe article about that last one's opening:

MARQUEE\ SACK TO OPEN CINEMA-VIDEO COMPLEX IN SALEM
Boston Globe
October 8, 1982
Author: George McKinnon Globe Staff

Pac-Man versus the movies. Or a $3-billion-a-year ticket sale for films against a projected $7 billion for home video and arcade electronic games.

In an if-you-can't-beat'em-join'em move, Sack Theaters is combining a new three-screen cinema complex in Salem with an adjoining game center.

Yesterday, A. Alan Friedberg, president of Sack, said: "We're calling it the Sack Entertainment Center and it will open next Friday at East India Mall in Salem in the heart of the downtown renewal area. It's the first such theater and game center combination in New England.

"We've had a few video games in our theater lobbies, but this is a new concept, a completely separate area next to the theaters."

Asked if he thought the games would cut into movie profits, Friedberg said: "We don't think so. We feel that people will go into the center either before or after going to the movies. I think they'll both feed off each other."

He pointed out that a New York Times page one story Monday said that arcade and home video games have in the past five years become enormously popular and Hollywood has gone into the games by licensing its successful movies, such as "E T," to game manufacturers.

When the Entertainment Center opens next week, Sack Theaters will have 57 screens in Massachusetts.

[end of article]

I don't know how long the video arcade part lasted -- probably not very long. To my knowledge, Sack never tried this again anywhere else. Loews picked up this theatre along with the rest of Sack, but I'm not sure how long they kept it.

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