I frequented several movie theaters growing up in Allentown, PA in the 1990s.
General Cinema was across the street from the Lehigh Valley Mall. This was the theater my brother and I went to most often. It was two and a half miles away from our house, but the theater had all the major studio releases.
General Cinema was the easiest theater to sneak in another film after you finished your first movie.
The Eric was a quarter mile from our house. This theater mainly played MGM, New Line Cinema and TriStar/Colombia films. This meant that they showed all of the Jean Claude Van Damm, Freddy Kruger and first generation Star Trek films.
The theater was right across the street from the Lehigh County prison, so we could hear the inmates play basketball from the upper floor. The Eric is now a social security office.
The Franklin was a second-run theater that formerly had been an adult theater called The Jannette. The theater was a block away from us. Their first film was Sister Act. People would talk and yell at the movie screen. There was an elderly usher, probably in his 70’s, that the kids would harass. I can still remember him chasing them around the theater and them making fun of his hair piece.
The Plaza was a second run theater at the Whitehall Mall. I still remember seeing Rain Man there. There was an arcade right next to it that was more like a second hand arcade, because they only had older games. Our dad would give us quarters to play games until the movie was about to start. The last movie I saw there was Babe 2: Pig in the City.
AMC was miles away from my family’s house. We would rarely go there, but I still remember their first films were Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Clint Eastwood’s Pink Cadillac. I can remember that these were the first two films because that opening weekend I was on punishment. My dad said that not going to see Indiana Jones was part of that punishment. We eventually went the next weekend, but we saw the film at General Cinema instead.
If cinema was scripture to me, then the movie theater was a cathedral. Each one was different and had its own character, but until this day I walk through these buildings in my dreams. I wait for a show to begin as though I’m about to watch the greatest motion picture ever made for the first time.