I was doing a little research in to the theaters of my youth and found out a little info about the Esquire. It was part of the Jerry Lewis (yes, that Jerry Lewis) chain, which was designed as a family friendly franchise. From what I've read, the idea was to create a turnkey chain showing G rated movies that all someone had to do was pony up the money and open the doors.
Well, it didn't quite work like that. The chain started in the early 70s, which wasn't exactly a good time for G rated pictures. Additionally, the idea that you didn't need to know anything about running a movie theater to get in this turned out to be fatally incorrect. A lot of people lost their investments as they had no idea how to run a movie theater and set up shop in poor locations.
Rumor has it, many of the theaters tuned into adult houses as a reaction against the strict rules on what type of movies could be shown. I don't think the Esquire ever showed porn, but I think it became a second run house as I'm pretty sure the last thing I saw there was Return of the Jedi in the mid80s, after it had it's first run.
The Esquire was at the end of the Esquire Plaza strip mall on Pendelton Pike. As such, it was sandwiched between two other theaters, the Eastwood, which was a really nice place, and the Pendelton Pike Drive-In. I don't know for sure when it stopped showing movies. My guess is it didn't make it to the 90s as neither of the other theaters on Pendelton Pike did. The building still stands and today houses a Pip Printing.
(Sidenote, the anchor store for the strip was a Zaires, another long gone relic. I'm pretty sure it became an Ames, like most of the Zaires in the area, and then closed up for good. Currently it houses a cut rate furniture store.)
The reason I mention all this is I found a pretty interesting YouTube video of a Jerry Lewis in Frankfort prior to being demolished. This one was a standalone, so the building itself isn't much like the Eastwood, but the inside and auditorium are a lot like what I remember.
I know of at least two other Jerry Lewis Cinemas in and around Indianapolis. Both of them still show movies, which seems to be kind of a rarity for this former chain. One is the Greenbriar Cinema Grill on 86th st. The other is now Key Cinemas on west Keystone.
Calculate your chances...negative...negative...negative!
Monday, June 30, 2008
A little more on the Esquire Theater
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