By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman’s Robinson Crossing 6 Theatre closed on Monday with no fanfare.
A simple posting online bid goodbye to the community: “Starplex Cinemas would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of our employees over the years for their exemplary service and performance of duties and to our many loyal patrons that shared more than a generation of entertainment experiences with us.”
The Robinson opened as a dollar theater in July 2002 about two years after AMC left Norman as a first run theater. These discount theaters show second-run movies and provide an opportunity for inexpensive entertainment popular with families.
“I was shocked because just the week before I took the kids to see ‘Oz the Great and Powerful,’” said Norman resident Victoria Fisher. “For a family with four children, the dollar theater was a fantastic place because it is very expensive to pay full price for that many children and two adults.”
The ambiance of seeing a movie in the theater can’t be recreated at home watching videos, Fisher said.
“It’s the dark room, the big screen,” she said.
Fisher said her family went to the dollar theater based on what movies were showing.
“There’s some movies you just want to see on the big screen,” she said. “There’s a great spread in my children’s ages so it’s got to be a family-friendly movie.”
Fisher said her family will be attending fewer movies now.
“When you have younger children, there’s extra pressure for them to behave at the theater,” Fisher said.
Paying high dollars at a first-run theater may mean you have to take a pre-schooler outside and lose that investment. At the dollar theater, the loss is minimal.
“You can pay $2 or $4 for two tickets, and if you have to take your pre-schooler outside, it’s not a big deal,” Fisher said. “I think there’s also a little bit more tolerance at the dollar theater because you didn’t pay $9 to get in.”
University students will also miss the theater.
“Before we had kids and were starving students, that was affordable for a young couple,” Fisher said.
Stephen Tyler Holman said he and his younger brother went to the movies at Robinson Crossing every Sunday evening.
“It was a good cheaper alternative,” Holman said. “When I was a kid, it was the regular theater. It was state of the art. It’s a historic piece of the community.”
Holman remembers seeing “Batman Returns” at the Robinson.
“I’ve been to a lot of movies there,” said Holman. “I am glad to have been there at the last and to have been able to see one of the last movies that was showing.”
Dollar theaters also provide a second chance for theatergoers to catch a movie they may have missed on the first time through. The six-screen dollar theater had 1,250 seats. Nearby the Hollywood Spotlight has 14 screens and 3,000 stadium seats.
Among the blockbuster movies to run at Robinson Crossing during its years as a first-run AMC theater was the 1993 sci fi flick, “Jurassic Park,” the highest-grossing film of the time.
Norman has had its share of movie theaters come and go, including Rancho Drive-In and Riverside Drive-In both of which are long since closed. A 1950 Norman phone book lists those two drive-ins and five theaters — Boomer, Oklahoma, Sooner, University, and Varsity.
An online site dedicated to documenting movie theaters, cinematreasures.org, reports that in addition to the two drive-ins, there have been 13 movie theaters in Norman:
· Sooner Theatre, 101 E. Main Street, was built in 1929 designed in Spanish Colonial/Mission style and had around 650 seats. It stopped showing movies in 1975 and was put on the historic register in 1978. It now serves the performing arts.
· The first Boomer theater was at 764 Asp Ave. in Campus Corner. It opened as Campus Theatre and may have been housed inside existing retail space. By 1942, cinematreasures.org indicates it had become Boomer Theater. It had a single screen and 357 seats.
· Boomer Theater, is across the street at 765 Asp Ave. in Campus Corner. Boomer had one screen and 875 seats. It opened in 1947. While no theater operates there now, the historic sign remains. The location was later the corporate office for Harold’s Stores.
· Oklahoma Theatre, 209 E. Main Street was a single screen theater downtown with 500 seats.
· University Theater, 225 E. Main Street, had one screen and 830 seats. It is down the block from Oklahoma Theater.
· Varsity Theatre, 108 E. Main Street, operated in the 1950s and may have operated in the ‘30’s and ‘40s.
· The Cinema East at 12th Avenue Southeast and Alameda Street opened in 1968 and was demolished in 1984.
· The Heisman Cinema Four on Alameda Street and 12th Avenue Northeast closed years ago and has been demolished. It opened in 1972 near the single screen Cinema East Theater. Heisman had four screens.
· Satellite 1&2, 1460 Maple Drive, opened in 1972 and closed in 1997. Located in Stubbeman Village, it had two screens.
· Hollywood Theatre, 1210 McGee Drive, was a first run theater, then a dollar theater. Most recently, it served the Pioneer Library System to process materials. PLS will be vacating the facility soon.
· Village 6 Cinemas, 3750 W. Robinson in Brookhaven Village has been closed for some time.
· Hollywood Spotlight 14, 1100 North Interstate Drive, is Norman’s current first run theater. It has stadium seating and surround sound.