Monday, September 10, 2007

Lost Cinema

I'm a movie nut. A nut for movies and the theater-going experience. Old theaters, drive-ins, I love 'em. But with the rise of the googleplexes, most of my childhood theaters have disappeared over the last 10-12 years. Gone are the "4"s and the "Twins". Some are torn down, others have been repurposed as banks or retailers and some just stand empty.

The Orchard 4 was one of my favorites. There was nothing really special about the design, it was more it's proximity to our house. So, it was usually the first place we'd go for a movie.

The theater was opened by United Artists in 1982, around the same time that Mr. Geektarded (my father) moved family operations to Omaha. In 1995, it was bought by Carmike Cinemas and finally closed shop in 2000 shortly after changing to a second-run $1 theater. The cause of death was the move towards larger 20 screen mulit-plexes.


Fun fact, the Orchard 4's seating was refurbished seats taken from downtown Omaha's old Astro movie house that closed in the early 80s.

The first 2 movies I can remember seeing were Jaws 3 and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (oddly both were in 3D). I don't know if we just went to a lot of genre films or if the Orchard just got a lot of SciFi and Horror, but that's a lot of the types of movies we went to.

Movies I distinctly remember seeing at the Orchard 4:
Halloween 4 and 5, Critters 1 & 2, Child's Play 2 & 3, The Running Man, Commando, Total Recall, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ghostbusters 2, Jason Goes to Hell, Nightmare on Elm St. 4, 5, & 6, Secret of the Sword, Transformers the Movie, Gremlins, The Wizard, Short Circuit, Silver Bullet, and many, many others.

I'm shocked that the place is still pretty much intact after 7 years of vacancy. It was an early 80s movie theater, and the design reflects that. Lots of burnt oranges and browns. The interior still has the ticket counter and windows, the snack bar, some light fixtures and the great plains murals (just in case you forgot you were in Nebraska). In the top photo, you see the lobby, snack bar and the archway on the left side leads to the 4 movie screens. Bottom shows 2 of the 3 murals and the bathrooms as you exit the theater. The carpets gone. Arcade games stood in the lobby space near the restrooms.

I really wish I could take a look inside. I wonder if the seating is still intact or if it was repurposed at another theater. The entire plaza is now empty and for lease. I'm thinking next time I'm over there, I might get the number and contact the owner. See if there's any Orchard 4 artifacts out there or something.
Bye-bye old friend. I hope you stand a good long while.
-Dr. G

UPDATE: I added a rough sketch of the floorplan for the Orchard 4. Pretty much how it looked for the 18 years it was open.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

I remember this theater!!
I think the last show I saw there was Mulan (disney).