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The Advent of Multiplex

It was apparent by the mid-Sixties that managers like Charles and Goldsworthy were a vanishing breed. By the time Chuck  Charles witnessed the closure of the Roxy in the early Seventies, a theater he had managed for nearly four decades, the Everett Theatre was going through one or two managers a year. These managers were rarely around long enough to familiarize themselves with the situation, let alone engage in much promotional activity. As the theater passed from one entertainment corporation to another, generic management was increasingly the rule. And though a location in the heart of the central business district had once been a powerfully positive factor for the theater, it became a liability during the Seventies, when outlying shopping malls were draining the life from the old downtown.

In 1973 the first of a series of multiplex cinemas were constructed at the Everett Mall, some five miles south of the city's core. If these new shoe-box movie houses represented the future of motion picture exhibition, they also cast doubt on the viability of theaters with a past. Before the end of the year, the Roxy was sold, shut down and gutted, leaving the Everett as the only theater in the central business district.

Within a year or two of the Roxy closure, concern about the eventual fate of the Everett began to manifest itself in local circles. The State Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation prepared nomination forms on the theater during the summer of 1975 and it was placed on the State Register of Historic Places. That same year the Everett Arts Commission began exploring the possibility of acquiring the structure for the community and in the spring of 1977 city council gave their approval to the idea of offering the owners, the Mann Theaters Corporation, $370,000 for the building. It was sold instead to Orewash Theaters, Inc.

In the summer of 1978, permits were secured by Orewash for a $90,000 remodel project that would see the installation of two movie screens in the balcony. Earlier that year another multiplex trio opened near the Everett Mall and the "triplexing" of the Everett Theatre was an apparent attempt to remain competitive. It also seemed to some to border on vandalism, though minimal permanent damage was inflicted. Before the remodel occurred, yet another unsuccessful plea for the public acquisition was made. The modifications were completed early in 1979. The new three-screen arrangement allowed the Everett Theatre to function for another decade, though the neglected state of the building caused increasing comment and ticket prices dropped as low as 99 cents.

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