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My Cheri Amour

Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 26, 2013 09:14 PM

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The Cheri Theater in Back Bay, opening night, 1966

From Box Office magazine, 1966: "Reportedly the world's first 'drive up' theater, Ben Sack's new luxury 800-seat Cheri Theater on the ground floor of the nine story 1000 car Auditorium Garage, in Downtown Boston's Prudential Center is designed as an "in-town facility providing all the conveniences of a suburban theater." The Cheri enables patrons to drive right into the garage, park and lock their cars, and take automatic elevators directly to the theater lobby (thereby inadvertently introducing the movie going public to 50 years of murder and rape scenes in similar garages in subsequent movies) without going out of doors. The first all new theater to be built from the ground up in many years, the first run Cheri Theater has a drawing radius of 3.5 million persons. Samuel Glaser Associates was the architect."

And from Cinema Treasures, "The Cheri complex remained in operation for about 40 years; few movie theaters in Boston have had such a lengthy life span other than the old movie palaces such as the Saxon, Savoy, etc. that have been converted to other uses. The first auditorium opened in February, 1966 with Marlon Brando in “The Chase”. The second auditorium opened in November, 1966 with Jack Lemmon in “The Fortune Cookie”. The third screen (i.e., the smaller auditorium on the upper level with the separate paybox) opened in July 1967 with Walter Matthau in “A Guide to the Married Man”.

The Cheri hosted a number of roadshows during the late-1960’s, including “Funny Girl” and “Oliver!”. When “Funny Lady” premiered there in an exclusive run in 1975, one screen showed the film on a reserved seat basis and another on a general admission basis.

The larger of the two lower level auditoriums was twinned in 1989. Following the closings of the Charles, Cinema 57 and Paris in the early-1990’s, the Cheri and Nickelodeon became the top theaters in the city for major Hollywood first run releases (essentially by default; the only other theater in Boston was the widely disliked Copley Place)".

"How i wish that you were mine." ... Stevie Wonder

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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