Miami Herald, The (FL) - January 6, 1983
Author: MIRIAM CONRAD Herald Staff Writer

Three firebombs planted in the Southland Twin Theater were "very amateur but very ingenious," Fort Lauderdale police said Wednesday.

There was only one problem with the contraptions: They never exploded. One of the bombs, contrived from gasoline and household items such as light timers, extension cords and hot plates, smoldered and caused about $3,000 in damage to carpeting and chairs.

"It’s absolutely amazing it didn’t work," said Detective Jim Ives.

If it had, it would have destroyed most of the evidence, he said. "It was a brilliant idea, if you want to know the truth."

Police, investigating a report of an open door at the theater at 900 W. State Road 84, discovered the bombs about 7 a.m., four hours after they were set to go off.

The arsonist accidentally sabotaged one of the bombs
himself. "The extension cord was carelessly placed across the hot plate," said police spokeswoman Diana Morrissette. "When it turned on, it shorted the extension cord."

The second bomb smoldered. The third, placed in an aisle, burned but didn’t explode. The carpet around the device had been doused with gasoline, but it evaporated before the hot plate turned on.

All of the appliances used for the makeshift bombs were brand new. The bombs probably cost about $140 to $180 to make, Ives said.

Investigators found no sign that the theater had been broken into, although the owner told them he checked the doors twice before leaving Tuesday night, Morrissette said.

Only the electrical circuits needed to power the devices had been turned on, leading police to believe the arsonists were familiar with the building.

Police knew of no former or disgruntled employes who might have wanted to torch the theater , which was insured for more than $100,000.

They were trying to find out who had keys to the theater and who might have had a motive to burn it down.

"It appears to be the work of two people," Ives said.

Investigators planned to check for fingerprints and ask the owner and his family to take lie detector tests, Ives said.

The owner, Robert Eisenman, said he was sleeping when police called to notify him about the attempted firebombing.

"I haven’t got the slightest idea" who would want to burn it, he said. "It was a shock to me."

He said he locked up the theater Tuesday at 11:05 p.m., just after the films Still of the Night and My Favorite Year ended.

Eisenman said he expected the theater would be closed for 10 to 14 days while damage to the carpets, seats and screen is repaired.


Herald Crime Report from 1983

A WOMAN WHO WAS YELLING AND SCREAMING "for a long time" Monday night during a movie at the Lincoln Cinema, 555 Lincoln Rd., was charged with aggravated assault after she threatened several movie watchers with a kitchen knife, police said. Mary Cruz, 45, who refused to give her address, threatened Benjamin Klein and other patrons with a knife after she was told to quiet down. When police were called, she became "very abusive" and was escorted out of the theater . She was taken to the Women’s Annex of the Dade County Jail.

And this. Not movie related but because it’s damn humorous:

Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 9, 1983
Author: Herald Staff

A Miami Beach man took too long in the bathroom Monday, so his neighbor stabbed him, according to a police report.

Alex Berrospi, 42, who lives in an apartment in the 1500 block of Drexel Avenue, shares a bathroom with a neighbor he knows only as "Maximo."

About 5:30 p.m. Monday, Maximo wanted his turn, but Berrospi was in the room. Maximo became angry, then violent. He knocked on the door. Berrospi finally opened it and Maximo stabbed him in the scrotum with a knife, Berrospi told police.

Police could not find Maximo.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 2, 1983
Author: CHRIS VAUGHAN Herald Staff Writer

The Rex theater , a battered survivor of porn and neglect, is nearing yet another comeback.

The 54-year-old movie house in the 7900 block of NE Second Avenue has been closed since a failed salvation attempt four years ago. It will reopen as a Haitian-oriented theater this summer if HAYTO Services, a Haitian partnership with offices at 7220 N. Miami Ave., can obtain the city license it needs.

City parking regulations currently stand in the way, said Fritz Henriquez, manager of the firm, but an exemption to current parking regulations -- one parking space for every four seats--may be "grandfathered in," Henriquez said.

The Rex has 700 seats, which means 175 spaces would be required if no exemption is granted. There are 25 spaces behind the building and about 50 parking meters on the street near the theater .

"We really do not need all those spots," Henriquez said. "Most of the people who will come to the movies are from the Haitian community. They will walk."

The Rex is at the edge of Little Haiti, which has no theater catering to the tastes of its more than 25,000 Haitian residents. Henriquez says the fare at the Rex will be mostly French movies. The theater may show English- and Spanish- language movies once a week.

"We will have to see what people want," Henriquez says. "To show only French movies would be killing ourselves, I think."

Admission will be $2, with some reserved seats for $2.50, Henriquez says. At those rates, he figures, "I need 1,000 people a week" to break even.

Henriquez and two partners in Haiti began efforts to buy the theater in March. They have sunk about $25,000 into renovations.

"We’re trying to open this month, but the way things are going, we will try to open the first week of July," Henriquez said.

"It will be a clean place again," he vowed. As he spoke, a workman swept steadily in the newly painted lobby. The candy counter was cracked and dusty, but the floors were clean. Outside, the red marquee shows its age. Inside, the red velvet seats appear in good repair.

"It will be nice for the neighborhood," said Alma Camacho, a waitress at the El Paso Coffee Shop next door to the Rex. Camacho attended movies at the Rex "when it was good, not when they had those X movies." But she probably will not attend shows there in the future, she said.

"When work is over, I’m on my way home. I don’t stay around here at night," she said.

Chris Crickmore, 18, of 82nd Street by way of Dayton, Ohio, said he won’t go to the Rex, either.

"I don’t know French. I like American movies, the modern ones," Crickmore said.

Amy Johnston, an employe at Barnett Bank across the street, was more concerned about the kind of movies the Rex will show.

"What kind of French movies?" she asked suspiciously.

Assured they would be family fare, she breathed easier. "As long as they don’t put those X-rated ones in again, I guess it’s a good thing. The neighborhood sure needs something."

Lochard Noel, a clerk at Les Cousins Book & Record Shop, 7858 NE Second Ave., was enthusiastic about the plan. "They have a Rex in Port-au-Prince, too," he said. "All the Haitians will go."

But the ticket seller at United Adult Movies, 7829 NE Second Ave., offered no encouragement to the backers of the Rex.

"They’ll never make it," he said. "They tried running straight movies before and it didn’t work. Take it from me."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - May 27, 1983
Author: JEAN FRANCZYK Herald Writer

There is no popcorn or candy available in the lobby of the Cinema Twin in the Searstown Plaza. There hasn’t been any there since general manager Chuck Cardinal closed the theater earlier this week to make it bigger and, he says, better.

Tools and tape rest next to the popcorn machine, and saws instead of soundtracks can be heard from the lobby of the Cinema Twin.

Instead of twins, Cardinal wants quadruplets. By June 13, he hopes to deliver.

With four theaters instead of two at Searstown, Cardinal said Thursday he will provide Key Westers with a variety of first-run picture shows. That’s not possible with two.

"It’s a matter of getting better and newer pictures to the public," Cardinal said. That’s the only way, he added, "To let

the public see first-run theater ."

The public won’t see many more seats once the construction is complete. The two extra theaters will seat only 35 additional people.

Basically, the old theaters were cut in half, Cardinal said.

Three weeks without regular customers equals about $30,000 of lost income, Cardinal said. He expects to make up for it with a planned grand opening when the overhaul is complete.

"We’re trying to coordinate the completion with school letting out," he said.

By then the chairs should be back in place and candy ready for sale in the lobby.

And kids lined up at the door.


Miami Herald, The (FL) - September 25, 1983
Author: MARY JO TIERNEY Herald Staff Writer

The message on the marquee at the Sunrise movie theater is something no one wanted to see.

It says " Closed for Refurbishing," but there’s not much action inside the 60-year-old downtown movie house.

"We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do with it. We have to have our architects take a look at it and analyze the situation," said Tommy Hyde, vice president of Kent Theaters , which has rented the building from the Koblegard family for more than 20 years.

Not many people got sentimental when the old Fort Pierce Hotel was torn down last month. But the Sunrise movie theater -- now that’s something else.

It’s where St. Lucie County Judge E.P. DeFriest first saw Tom Mix on his white horse. "I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. The most disappointing thing that happened to me was not having a dime and having to miss one of those serials on Saturday afternoon," he said.

The theater is where A.E. (Beanie) Backus started his artistic career. Backus made the posters of the upcoming attractions. He was paid $14 a week, but also got to see some of the "big shots" who came to the Sunrise. And he said there were some big shots.

Sally Rand was there, doing her fan dance, and Olson and Johnson’s Hellzapoppin rolled them in the aisles. There was vaudeville and the Saturday morning Mickey Mouse clubs, followed by a double feature.

But the biggest attraction was Wednesday night. That was bank night. "A drum majorette would pick a number out of a bowl and the winner would get a couple hundred dollars, or some dishes or furniture. The place was packed. Everyone in town would be there," said Circuit Court Judge Philip Nourse.

Nourse was an usher, making $3 a week "working every night of the week and on weekends." But he said the the job did have its fringe benefits. "All the pretty girls were there on Saturday afternoon."

For decades,the Sunrise theater was a favorite rendezvous spot for teenagers. It was big and dark enough for some discreet smooching, just as long as they stayed out of the balcony.

The balcony was reserved for the blacks, who until the late 1950s, were not permitted to sit in the main theater .

The Sunrise was once the biggest theater between Jacksonville and Miami. For decades it was the only theater in Fort Pierce. Now there’s the Village in Searstown with its six theaters and the Cinema on South U.S 1 with its two screens. But most serious moviegoers said the Sunrise is still the best place in town to watch a film.

The screen is mammoth compared to the others and the theater is big enough to have a smoking section.

But the Sunrise has a lot of overhead and no longer draws enough of a crowd to fill all of those seats.

"The public just doesn’t realize what’s involved in running a theater like that," Hyde said.

He said Kent theaters could give up their lease to the Koblegards, but no decision has been made.

R.N. (Koby) Koblegard, whose father and grandfather both ran the Sunrise, said he isn’t sure what the family would do if Kent decided to pull out.

"I guess we could put something else in there or renovate it. Or maybe we could tear it down and start all over ... It’s just not a moneymaker anymore," he said.

Nourse said he may have the answer. "Tell them to have the bank nights again," he said. "They were always the talk of the town."


Miami Herald, The (FL) - October 31, 1983
Author: MIKE WILSON Herald Staff Writer

They closed the Boulevard Drive-In in July. The screen and the projection house -- connected every night since 1948 by a colorful beam of light -- now stand unjoined, two strange structures from a different time.

The screen will be torn down soon. A shopping center is going up. Fast food, fast gas, fast film developing. Nobody waits anymore -- not for fuel, not for photos, and not for the second feature. Time is money.

Drive-ins are running out of both.

Families are staying away from drive-ins by the carload. When people go to the movies -- and statistics show they rarely do nowadays -- they seem to prefer air-conditioned indoor theaters to hot, cramped automobiles. Cable TV also siphons off business. Why drive to a dusty parking lot to see the same second-run, second-rate film you can see at home?

Three drive-ins remain in Palm Beach County: the Beach, the Trail, and the Delray. A family of four can catch a double feature for $5 or less at any of them.

Yet they’re struggling. Two of the theaters have tried to boost attendance with 50-cent tickets. All three offset losses by running daytime flea markets.

The managers of all three theaters realize their businesses could easily go the way of the Boulevard.

John Orcutt, now manager of the Trail, at 3450 Lake Worth Rd. in suburban Lake Worth, remembers the Boulevard: "The First and Best Drive-In in Palm Beach County," a sign in the projection room read. The theater was built in 1948, when most
families were nuclear -- and most missiles weren’t. Orcutt, 47, has been in the business 18 years. He worked at the Boulevard, at 4921 Southern Blvd. in suburban West Palm Beach, for 10 years starting in 1972.

He recalls cinema’s glory days, when the county’s 12 indoor theaters had faithful patrons and romantic names -- the Florida, the Palms, the Palace, the Arcade. He used to jump the fence to get into the now-extinct Skydrome Drive-In in Lake Worth.

Sometimes he cruised through the gate in his ’47 Hudson. His friends hid in the back. He later worked at the Skydrome -- and at the Beach -- before moving to the Boulevard.

The kids are baffled now when he catches them sneaking into the Trail.

"They want to know how I catch ’em. I say, ’Experience.’ "

The Trail, owned by Mack Theaters Inc. of Titusville, is open seven nights a week. Adults pay $2.25 each for a double feature; kids under 10 are free. The theater has an AM radio sound system and stalls for 530 cars.

Business could be better. "People would just as soon sit on their butts, I guess, and watch the boob tube," Orcutt said. "We have to compete with cable TV, the race tracks, now you have jai alai and the dogs starting up."

He admits the Trail would perish without the Swap Shop, open Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Dealers pay a few bucks to lay out goods and garbage; shoppers get in free. The Swap Shop recoups the Trail’s losses.


The Trail> is not the booming thing now, but I think in a few years cable TV will wear off and people will go back to the drive-ins," Orcutt said.

Hayden Bivins Sr., 59, has managed the Delray since 1957. A native Mississippian, he twangs instead of talks. He wears jeans and boots, calls people "Buddy," and rassles with the kids who hang around the snack bar. He recently canceled his subscription to HBO. He doesn’t even watch the films he shows.

The Delray, at 1601 N. Federal Highway, Delray Beach, is open nightly. It has FM sound and two screens, one at either end of six acres of blacktop. Theater 1 parks 250 cars. Theater 2 parks about 180.

Drive-In Theaters of Florida, a Margate firm that owns the Delray and the Beach, books mostly sub-run features. Revenge of the Ninja played last week. Bivins hasn’t seen it.

"There are not too many good family movies anymore," he said resignedly. "I don’t think the drive-in is as popular as it used to be for the lack of a good product.

"Going to the movies with my family and taking the kids to the snack bar and playing on the playground were the happiest days of our lives," he said. "But it’s just like any other business. Things change."

Not all things. The Delray, like the Beach and the Trail, does not show X-rated films. Bivins won’t allow them. Once, a booking agent sent him a copy of Debbie Does Dallas. He had to show it. It didn’t happen again.

"We don’t show anything that will make

the neighbors> complain," he said.

The Delray is, more than the other county drive-ins, a family theater . Bivins shows films in Spanish every autumn, attracting large migrant families with $2.00 tickets. He screened the first Spanish film of the season Thursday night. The elders watched intently. The children sneaked across the parking lot to see Revenge of the Ninja.

Despite Spanish features and 50-cent specials, the Delray "isn’t doing the business I’d like it to do," Bivins said. He isn’t optimistic about the future.

"I don’t think we could survive without the Swap Shop," he said. "

Drive-ins> can’t keep existing under the same circumstances they’re under now. I hate to see it, but it’s true."

Tom Winter prepared the Beach’s four weekend films Thursday afternoon. It took two hours to wind the features onto huge metal platters in the center of the screening room. With the flick of a switch Friday night, the films -- Halloween II, Halloween III, The Thing and Cat People -- would play automatically, one after another.

Winter, manager of the Beach since December, said he felt certain there would be an audience. He’s the only theater man in Palm Beach County who doesn’t think the drive-in is dead.

"I’ve been hearing that for the last year," said Winter, 43, who became manager in December. "Nationwide it might be. But here I don’t think so."

The Beach, a 6.6-acre property at the corner of Old Dixie Highway and 13th St. in Riviera Beach, sold out three times last year, Winter said. (Flashdance, 48 Hrs., and Trading Places
drew the crowds.) The theater has an FM sound system, 430 stalls and the largest screen in the county: 54 feet tall, 98 feet wide.

"If we do $1,800 to $2,000 a weekend, they won’t close us," he said. The snack bar alone grossed $1,000 one night.

Winter, a former auto parts salesman, moved to Palm Beach County 27 years ago. He drove a ’56 Chevy convertible and frequented the Skydrome.

"I used to babysit my older sister’s kids," he said. "I’d grab a six-pack and the kids and head for the drive-in. Easiest way to contain ’em." Winter said his son Chad, 15, can’t wait to start working at the Beach.

The drive-in may not be as popular as it used to be, but it’s still appealing, Winter said. Married couples, he said, need a place to spend an inexpensive night out. Unmarried couples do, too.

"It’s a dark place to go park," he said. "I don’t go out trying to catch anyone, but I walked by one unsteady van the other night."

The Beach charges $3 a car for two to four films. Early birds pay 50 cents. "It’s the cheapest entertainment around," Winter said.

If so, why don’t cars jam the entrances to the drive-ins? Why did they knock down the Skydrome screen several years ago to make way for a MacDonald’s? Why are they turning the Boulevard -- "The First and Best Drive-In in Palm Beach County" -- into a shopping center?

"I don’t know," Winter answered. "It doesn’t have anywhere near the appeal it used to. I don’t know why."
Caption: photo: abandoned drive-in, Tom Winter


Miami Herald, The (FL) - February 24, 1985

Author: CRAIG GILBERT Herald Staff Writer

It was a normal Tuesday night at the Surf, musty of smell and meager of company. Twenty rows back sat Julian Weiss, Canadian tourist.

"I was driving by and I saw a movie," he said.

"I didn’t expect to be by myself."

On Miami Beach , wide open space is a 633-seat moviehouse. Once a picture lover’s fantasyland, the Beach is now a theater graveyard, haunted by ghosts named the Plaza, the Flamingo, the Variety, the Cinema, the Beach and the Carib.

Industry changes and the scarcity of young moviegoers have made dinosaurs of the Beach’s old single screens.

Today, aside from porno houses, only five survive: the Surf, the Normandy, the Lincoln, the Cameo and the Roxy .

Struggling along in the age of the eight-plex, these old picture houses make theater-going on Miami Beach an experience all its own. Lonely, maybe. Different, for sure.

Where else can you choose among Yiddish vaudeville, cheap B movies, and Japanese Samurai with English dubbing and Spanish subtitles?

South Beach, for starters. Down on Washington Avenue, the four o’clock double feature at the Roxy was letting out. Maxx Isaac, 19, and Oneida Huete, 16, played a game of pinball in the tiny lobby before hitting the street.

"You don’t get that kind of double feature for $2.50 in New York," said Isaac, a Park Slope transplant who goes to the Roxy often, and usually finds friends.

"He comes here because they give pretty disgusting horror movies," Huete said. "Ones you don’t see in other movie theaters. They show pretty bad movies. Maybe you can’t sleep at night."

"But it’s worth it," Isaac said. Silent Madness, about a disturbed mute who kills several sorority sisters, was worth it. It played with the remake of Where the Boys Are.

"Not like the Lincoln," Isaac said, "where they show movies for old people."

The Lincoln, in fact, was playing more than movies this Tuesday evening. It was playing vaudeville, American-Yiddish vaudeville, starring Bernie Berns. For $4, there was a picture, too: George Segal in Where’s Poppa?

"I see all the movies that come out, but this is something special," said Helene Goldflus, a snowbird from Toronto. "There’s no other place where you can see a Jewish movie and a Jewish show."

Yiddish vaudeville, Grade B horror, vacant beach antics, that’s not all Beach theaters offered this Tuesday evening. Just south of the Roxy at 1443 Washington Ave., the Cameo featured a Swedish sexpot and a Mexican comic: Britt Ekland in The Ultimate Thrill, and Cantinflas in Pepe.

It’s not that first-run movies can’t be found on the Beach. Wometco’s Byron-Carlyle, now a three-plex, shows the big new releases.

But for the other five general audience theaters in the city, having one screen means showing cheap double features (like the Lincoln, Roxy and the Cameo) or first-run leftovers (like the Normandy and Surf, also operated by Wometco).

"Your day of the single screen is practically over," said Stanley Stern, president of Wometco Theaters in Miami.

The reasons are many.

Studios are making fewer pictures, and theaters that bid for them are forced to show them longer. Multi-screen houses can carry a stale film, because the theaters are cheaper to operate. But most single screens can’t.

All moviehouses are getting tough competition these days, especially from cable TV. Faced with paying up to 90 percent of their gross receipts to the studio, a lot of first-run theaters would go broke if it weren’t for candy and soda. And the more screens, the more concession business.

"It’s no longer a joke when people say, ’How do you pick out a theater location? You find a good place for a popcorn stand and build a theater around it,’ " Stern said.

Theaters on the Beach have also suffered from a changing population.

"Your main audience is 15 to 35 years old," Stern said, "which more or less eliminates about 90 percent of the Beach."

So the Plaza, 206 Biscayne St., is now a parking lot across
from Joe’s Stone Crab.

The Cinema, 1253 Washington Ave. is now Club Z, the disco.

On Lincoln Road, the Flamingo is a luggage store, the Carib a shopping mall, the Beach theater a bank.

On 41st Street, the Sheridan has been razed and the Roosevelt has gone porno.

Despite that trend, two men in South Beach last December reopened what is now the largest single screen theater on the Beach. With its open balcony, the Cameo has room for 1,056. For most $2.50 double features, though, it draws well under 100.

The Cameo survives the way the Lincoln and the Roxy survive: by shunning costly first-run movies for second-run pictures or cheap B movies. It lets them charge less for tickets, and switch films as often as once a week, to keep the regulars coming back. First-run pictures demand a longer run.

Cameo owner Luis Izquierdo said he is "very happy" with business so far. Instead of paying up to 90 percent of his gross to rent first-run films, he gets cheaper movies and pays 30 or 35 percent.

"The people around here, they just want to pass the time," Izquierdo said. "They pass by, they don’t have anything to do, they sit down for three or four hours."

To save on overhead, he and his partner, Rafael Aguila, run the whole show.

Because his expenses are low, Izquierdo said, his break even point is a mere 100 people a day, spread out over five shows. His all-time best is 425.

"I think we have a good location," said Izquierdo, who also owns the Mr. Food cafeteria next door.

There’s a lot of people on South Beach, he explained, and many of them don’t own a television.

Izquierdo figured his audience is about one-third Latin, one-third young Anglo and one third elderly Anglo. He first planned to show Spanish language films, but "the whole problem is that eliminates the Americans. With American movies, we’ve got the Hispanics and the Americans."

One week, Izquierdo tried something completely different -- a Japanese twin bill: Squadron Alliance and Desert Giant, a Samurai flick dubbed in English and subtitled in Spanish.

"We’re still experimenting," he said.

Just up the block from the Cameo is the Roxy , run by Gus Vega. Clint Eastwood plays there. So do double features like Jungle Warriors and Octofist.

Vega says his crowd is increasingly young and Latin, especially at night, when the older people are afraid to go out.

"It has gradually changed from non-action to action," Vega said. "I have more horror movies now, more martial arts then I had."

Like Vega and Izquierdo, Sonny Ovedin claimed "I get both crowds... I have both the Cuban and the old people."

But his theater, the Lincoln, plays second-run movies you aren’t likely to see at the Roxy or Cameo: romantic comedies, or critics’ choices like Places in the Heart and Soldier’s Story.

For four or five weeks a year, the Lincoln also plays Yiddish vaudeville to elderly audiences.

He said he brings in 2,500 people a week, but "I used to make a lot of money. Now it’s less. They got us killed, the film companies and the twins and the triples and all this. They’re holding the picture too long. I can’t play with them. I can’t bid with them... I don’t know, I used to like it more."

Ovedin talked of leaving the business. "The small guys are out of it," he said.

Some of the big guys are getting out of it, too. Stern said Wometco is looking to leave the film business after half a century. Its 31 screens in Dade are up for sale. The company decided it’s better off putting all its resources into something more profitable, such as television.

Wometco, which leases the Normandy and owns the Surf, is trying to sell its theaters as a group. No one would want the Surf or Normandy alone, Stern conceded.

The Normandy, at 7401 Collins Ave., seats 525. The Surf, at 7400 Collins, seats 633. But the crowd that sat through Mischief Tuesday night -- a dozen people -- is not uncommon.

The two houses "just about" break even, Stern said, and that’s only because they share expenses, like a manager.

Carl Jamroga, who takes two days a week from his retirement to oversee the Surf and Normandy, worked at the Colony, Sheridan and Beach theaters in the 40s.

He remembered when world premieres brought stars like Ginger Rogers and Ronald Reagan to town.

"Whether they turn them into dollar houses, or buck and a half houses, I really don’t know," he said of the Normandy and Surf.