Showcase Cinemas East

3455 William Penn Highway,
Pittsburgh, PA 15235

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 30 comments

FixItFelix on January 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm

One item that is slightly incorrect is the expansion of the building being prevented. The original building only extended to the location of screen 8. Screens 9 and 10 along with a few offices were added on after the building first opened. I believe screens 1 and 2 were divided at that time to become screens 1-4. screen 3 became screens 5-6 and screen 4 became 7-8. Even when split, screens 5-8 (originally 3 and 4) held 500+ each. The original projector portals were still in the projection booth at their original locations, just covered or painted over. It was also evident on the second floor where the original staircase to the projection booth and manager’s office was located before the renovation.

What is true however are the lifetime passes. Every single Wilkins Twp resident who lived on the street behind the theater had free admission. The free pass sheet was normally pretty light on weekdays and through the weekends we’d occasionally get into multiple pages of people using passes for admission.

Another bit of trivia… there was a locker on the second floor that held Star Wars posters, standees and other promo materials from the original run of each movie until about a year before the building closed. It was interesting to see. There was actually an entire room at one point with a giant Paramount logo on the wall that was completely loaded with old movie promo materials until we cleaned it out around 2003.

FixItFelix on October 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

Technically…. The final date may have been in Sept, but we worked in that building through November of 2004.

FixItFelix on October 4, 2013 at 10:03 am

There were MANY issues with the structure itself which ultimately led to it’s closing. The lobby roof was falling apart, every AC unit was ancient and in need of replacement, the entire building needed new carpeting, the area of the building that held screens 1-4 was slowly sinking, the main sewage pipe below the building had ruptured which led to backup in every bathroom and concession stand, hundreds of seats needed replaced, frequent issues with the thx and dolby equipment on screens 7 and 8, most of the projection equipment was late 70s vintage with modifications made along the way, the parking lot was a giant sinkhole waiting to happen, the sidewalks were buckling, etc.. Each of these issues combined with low attendance after the Loews Waterfront and Destinta theaters opened made it a little difficult to convince National Amusements to do anything but close this location. The original construction plans for the shopping center now in it’s former location included the old building….but I guarantee once they got a look at lack of sewage pipe and condition of the structure itself…it had to come down. (Also… I worked there from 2000 – 2004 when the building closed)

WarnerChatham on July 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Yes, the far-left theater was quartered when they wanted to add more screens.

71dude on June 19, 2012 at 9:06 am

Was the far-left theater quartered?

WarnerChatham on May 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

What really put this theatre on the map was they were the only theatre in Pittsburgh to play the original “Star Wars” movie in 1977 on a big screen. The Bank Cinema downtown later played this as well, but those theatres were smaller than the Showcase. The original Showcase had two big auditoriums and two small ones. I can recall going there in the summer of 1977 to see “Star Wars”. I remember standing in line for that movie for a long time, only to hear an usher come outside with a bull-horn and say “Single Seats Only”! I learned to come back earlier the next time.

The biggest problem this theatre had was the immediate area it was located. I spoke to a former employee of the Showcase West Cinema who told me the residents in the Wilkins Township area fought Showcase East “tooth and nail”. They prevented any further expansion of the original structure, so Redstone (the parent company) had to split the exisitng two big auditoriums into two in order to add more screens. Also, this theatre later lost money because the owners had to give the people who lived around it “lifetime” passes, to keep them happy. This perk was apparently taken advantage of too often.

Malin_Archia on April 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This theatre was the only theatre in the area to show the controversial Santa slasher flick ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ back in 1982. The theatre reported numerous walkouts, as well as complaints and phone calls from concerned parents. This cinema had the movie playing on 3 screens. TriStar pulled the movie out of all cinemas after only two weeks of release, due to irate protests/picket lines and a huge dropoff in it’s 2nd weekend box office.

StrangeStephen on December 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

Demolished about a year ago. Now the site of a Sheetz, a regional convenience gas station, a hotel & a small strip mall.

Coate on February 7, 2011 at 9:12 am

“Star Wars” ran 42 weeks here during its original 1977-78 release, which I imagine is the long-run record for the theater. A Dolby sound system was installed for the engagement, one of four in the Redstone/National Amusements circuit to do so.

(For the Pittsburgh market, “Star Wars” ran a longer period of time – 59 weeks – at the downtown Bank Cinema I & II, though it didn’t open there until July 20, 1977, whereas Showcase Cinemas began theirs several weeks earlier on May 25.)

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on February 7, 2011 at 7:58 am


I lived in Pittsburgh from 1990-1995. I remember taking my then-girlfriend here, probably to see “Hand That Rocks the Cradle”. Even then, I remember this theatre being kind of “eh”.

SusanD on February 6, 2011 at 7:22 am


I hate to see any cinema close. I’ve lived in the Shadyside/Squirrel Hill areas all my life (I’m in my early 30s) and I used to come here a lot. Even into my adulthood, my friends and I would always combine a shopping trip to Monroeville Mall with a movie, either here or at the mall cinemas.

As Rick Aubrey says above, Monroeville has nothing. Well movie-wise it doesn’t. I’m no expert, but I think a well run movie house could still do good business here, what with the mall, other nearby shopping, and restaurants. A new cinema at the mall might do really well.

Also the address above is incorrect. The Showcase wasn’t in Monroeville proper. It was in Wilkins Township, with a Pittsburgh mailing address. Its address should be:

3455 William Penn Hwy
Pittsburgh, PA 15235

milanp on January 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm

meant to say:
“to SEE any theater close….”

milanp on January 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Ed Blank was right in his 2008 posting.
Showcase East’s opening in 1976 marked the beginning of the end for all of the great downtown (and near downtown—e.g., King’s Court, Squirrel Hill, Chatham, etc.) Pittsburgh theaters.
As much as it pains me to so any theater close, I can’t deny a certain satisfaction is seeing Becca’s photos of the dead Showcase East.
Karma is a b***h, ain’t it?

markp on November 9, 2009 at 7:24 pm

The multiplex that National had here in New Jersey was reel-to-reel thru several additions, starting with the original 6-plex up till it was a 10 screener. When it went to 12, then platters were installed. Use to run one print in 2 houses starting every hour. THAT was fun.

carolgrau on November 9, 2009 at 7:11 pm

This was one and only one I ever worked that had 60 minute reel to reel automation, really kept you on your toes. Once in awhile Murphy’s law would win out and you would have one long ass day.

Becca on March 16, 2009 at 10:23 am

Here is the cinema as of 3/12/09. We were going to go around the building for more photos, but all access roads were blocked. These two were taken from the car with my Blackberry.


rivest266 on September 14, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Grand opening ad at 07/01/1976
View link

oldwilliampenn on June 7, 2008 at 5:58 am

Hopefully with a returning economy the Showcase Cinemas East site is scheduled to be refurbished for retail use with a mid-price extended-stay hotel in the rear of the parking lot.

edblank on June 6, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Showcase Cinemas East’s four original auditoriums consisted of two 400-seaters and two 375-seaters.

Though considered part of the Monroeville moviehouse community, Showcase Wast was located in adjacent, if lesser-known, Wilkins Township, just west of Monroeville.

For a brief time in the beginning, movies were advertised as being in a specific autorium (Showcase East #3, for example), which, as I recall, were numbered from left (west) to right (east).

Soon it became apparent that while “Silent Movie,” for example, might play its whole Showcase East engagement in #3, patrons soon found that #3 might be the lefthand auditorium one day and a smaller one the next night.

As management tinkered with which movies got to play in the bigger auditoriums, the staff moved the numerical names of the auditoriums from day to day or at least from week to week to make sure “Silent Movie” was always in an auditorium labeled #3.

This was because of an old practice that distributors had been enforcing Downtown: When a movie jumped from one Downtown theater to another, the second theater was supposed to pay “first week” (higher) rentals, which in practice did not normally happen.

The flexibility of multiplexes, which kept film prints shifting around while still under the same roof, forced distributors to give up on the notion of keeping track of which movie was in which auditorium.

Soon there was no pretense of one movie playing its whole engagement in #3. The auditoriums in megaplexes thereafter were permanently numbered for purely practical reasons. No film was advertised as being in this one versus that one unless it was in an IMAX auditorium.

Showcase East enjoyed the biggest grosses per screen for several years but lost its box-office footing steadily in the 1990s and then plummeted as competition stiffened.

Although the 20-screen megaplex Loews North Versailles came and went within a year and a half, Showcase East was thrashed business-wise by two new state-of-the-art megaplexes with stadium seating, Destinta North Versailles (aka Plaza 22) and especially by Loews Waterfront, now called AMC Waterfront, which has become the highest-grossing complex within more than 100 miles.

It was a case of the mighty falling. Roughly 30 years earlier, Showcase East had sucked up so much movie patronage that it contributed more than any other film emporium to the dismantling of the Downtown first-run moviehouse district as well as to the closing of the Monroe and Cinema 22 single-screen theaters in Monroeville.

SusanD on January 3, 2008 at 8:29 am

I remember this theatre well. In my teens and early twenties, this was a nice place to see a show. I thought it was better than the theatres at the mall. But towards the end, it became run-down and rather crummy!

My husband and I now mainly go to the theatres in Squirrel Hill.

oldwilliampenn on October 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Two recent articles that talk about the purchase of the Showcase Cinemas East site:

View link

View link

It appears that the theatre itself will be renovated for retail use with a hotel in the rear parking area.

raubre on October 20, 2007 at 7:16 am

Wish they would reopen the theatre as a dollar cinema or something. Monroeville has nothing! (Shame on you for closing!)

kencmcintyre on December 4, 2006 at 10:21 am

Here’s another article about closings in the Pittsburgh area:

oldwilliampenn on September 12, 2006 at 11:46 am

Sorry – I probably wrote the email too late last night. The articles I read were saying that the Wicke’s site may be razed for a cluster of restaurants to go in its location.