With the advent of multiple screens in a single theatre,
functionality became one of economics more individual
screens in a complex meant more people, hence more dollars.
For Houston, the change began in 1965, with General Cinemas
Cinema II Theatres at Gulfgate, Meyerland, and Northline.
Suddenly, patrons had a choice of features in the same building,
and took to the concept with enthusiasm.
This was followed by a trio of theatres constructed for
American Multi-Cinema (AMC):he Almeda 4 at Almeda Mall,
Northwest 4 at Northwest Mall, and Town & Country 6 at Town
& Country Village.
As the sixties progressed into the seventies and then
the eighties, theatres lost their glamour in favor of purpose
alone, with smaller auditoriums (some seating as few as
150 people) and minimal interior decor. At the same time,
the new constructions made it harder for the older neighborhood
theatres to remain in business. Many resorted to becoming
dollar houses in order to stay afloat.
By the middle eighties, Houston had reached an oversaturation
point in individual screens. Despite this, more theatres
were built, along with the number of auditoriums per theatre.
The opulence of the early days was out, not only because
of simplicity of construction but economics as well. However,
audiences were becoming increasingly agitated at the shortcomings
of the multiplexes. While sound and picture quality had
reached new technological heights, sacrifices were made
in other areas, such as the state-of-the-art sound from
one theatre distracting patrons in the adjoining auditorium.
Ticket prices were higher and concessions cost more, while
the individual screens continued to shrink.
The change back to theatre opulence occurred first with
the Cineplex Odeon Spectrum 9, at 2660 Augusta, which opened
on June 24, 1988. Architecturally, the theatre tried to
recapture the dazzle of older cinemas, not by opulent flourishes,
but by grand scale and a multiple level lobby. Cineplex
Odeon followed this with the River Oaks Plaza Theatre, a
twelve-screen version of the Spectrum, located on West Gray
at Waugh Drive.
The defining moment for the multiple-screen theatre was
in 1996, with the introduction of stadium seating, beginning
with the Deerbrook 24 and Woodlands Tinseltown. Even the
Cineplex Odeon palaces were not able to survive this new
innovation. The number of screens continued to grow, reaching
its height in 1997, with the opening of the AMC Studio 30.