Eastwood Mall Theatre

1600 Montclair Road,
Birmingham, AL 35210

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Previously operated by: Cobb Theatres

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Eastwood Mall Theatre

The Eastwood Mall Theatre opened by Newman Waters on December 25, 1964 as a single screen movie theatre with around 600-seats. It was equipped for 70mm and Cinerama. The opening movie was Ann-Margret in “The Pleasure Seekers”. Later operated by Cobb Theatres, it was twinned in the mid-1970’s.

After closing in 1989, it was mostly demolished in the mid-1990’s. The mall was rebuilt, but without a theatre, it was later demolished in 2004.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

tfrielin on January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Yes, the Eastwood Mall Theatre was a gem in its day. It is demolished now, but it had already been ruined when it was twinned in the late ‘70s. The twinning eliminated its capability to show Cinerama movies. It had the special projection equipment and curved screen for showing Cinerama movies. I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ice Station Zebra there, plus many more regular formatted movies. If you haven’t seen 2001 in Cinerama format, you’ve not seen 2001. Sadly the entire Mall is now gone, replaced by, yes, another WalMart.

DavidZornig on November 15, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Circa 1965 image added via Clifford Turner.

rivest266 on April 8, 2022 at 9:03 pm

Grand opening ad posted.

MSC77 on April 3, 2023 at 8:55 am

A chronology of Birmingham’s 70mm presentations history has recently been published. Eastwood Mall gets some mentions in the piece.

StanMalone on April 20, 2023 at 9:37 am

Eastwood Mall Theater was built by the Newman Waters Theatre Company in 1964 as part of the second phase western wing expansion of the mall that had opened about three years earlier as the first enclosed mall in Alabama. Although not unusual in appearance compared to most other theaters of its era, it marked a major change in Birmingham movie theatre history. Until then, all of first run movies opened at one of the four major downtown theaters, the Alabama, Ritz, Melba, and Empire. Eastwood was the first suburban first run theatre and the seating capacity was probably around 600. The style was definitely the 60’s living room look with draped auditorium walls and sofas and chairs in the lobby. The lobby was open air to the Mall itself and at night was secured by a wire gate. The box office was a desk like counter at the entrance to the lobby. The theater was built as a single screen 70MM Cinerama house and competed for that product with the Ritz, a 1920’s era downtown movie palace that had been gutted and rebuilt to show Cinerama in its original three screen format. The Eastwood Mall Theater opened on Christmas Day 1964 with Ann-Margaret in The Pleasure Seekers. The manager was Jimmy Popper who would leave a couple of years later to be the opening manager of the Midfield, a similarly designed (although not Cinerama) theater. In 1968, the Waters Company, which was also the developer of the Mall, exited the theater business to concentrate on its real estate development interests and the chain was sold to the R.C. Cobb company.

Among the movies I can remember seeing at Eastwood were Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Great Race, Khartoum, and The Battle of the Bulge. I am sure that there were others, and a look at that list shows that it booked a lot of prime movies. According to the fine research by Michael Coate linked to in the above comment the Eastwood ran the 70MM Cinerama releases Circus World, the previously mentioned Battle of the Bulge and Khartoum, Grand Prix, Ice Station Zebra, and 2001, as well as standard 70MM releases Paint Your Wagon, Song of Norway, and the 70MM reissue of This Is Cinerama. Business was so good here that in April 1972 Cobb opened a twin across the road in the new Village East Shopping Center. These were just a couple of ugly shoebox houses and perfect examples of the bland style of 1970’s era theaters. The Eastwood then fell victim to the twinning plague that swept the country in those days and was split down the center. Cobb soon bought up all of the independent theaters such as Midfield, Capri, Cinema, and in 1980 the four theaters of the ABC chain, by then owned by Plitt. In 1989 Cobb built a brand new 12 screen location in the Festival Shopping Center a short distance west down Crestwood Blvd and at that time closed both Eastwood and Village East.

As with so many of the early malls around the country, by the late 80’s Eastwood Mall found itself in a shabby state and far outclassed by the newer malls, Brookwood and Galleria. The mall was gutted and the wing that included the closed theatre was torn down and completely rebuilt, without a movie theatre presence. The wonderful website, Birmingham Rewound, has a page on Eastwood Mall that includes pictures of the theater lobby.

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