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Shelby Foster

Cinema I & II, NorthPark Center’s original movie theaters, opened in September 1965. NorthPark celebrated the new additions with a glittering ceremony with members of the film industry and many Dallas dignitaries in attendance. The two theaters were expected to greatly impact the Dallas film scene, with a combined 1,850 seats and two of the largest, most brilliant screens in the Southwest.

The feature film for the opening night was the Dallas premiere of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s “The Sandpiper.”

Hollywood great Francis X. Bushman was the most buzzed-about guest of the night. He was dubbed “The Greatest Movie Star of All Time” for his role in silent films in the early 1900s, yet he was never asked to put his handprints at the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. To rectify this, Bushman placed his hands in the wet concrete at the front of the NorthPark Cinema I & II, alongside Raymond D. Nasher, Dallas mayor Erik Jonsson and Richard A. Smith, General Cinema Corp.’s president, at the opening.

One quote by manager Richard L. Higgins, which ran in Motion Picture Daily on Tuesday, September 21, 1965, is particularly telling of the industry at that time. “We can run two separate films, one for adults and another for the youngsters,” he said. “Or, when a film demands, we can use both theatres but with staggered starting time to cut down waiting.” What may seem obvious for theaters now was groundbreaking back in 1965 – our cinema today has 15 screens and over 70 show times each day.

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