We love that new art cinemas are opening in Coral Gables and Wynwood. It helps feed our burgeoning film scene and, let's face it, gives us options besides the mega-plexes that dominate the movie venue scene. But there was a time when smaller movie theaters dominated the Miami cinescape. We had drive-ins, cool movie marquees, and a bunch of smaller venues with personality lacking in the corporate behemoths so popular today.
Those of you with relatively shallow roots in Miami might not know that our film pedigree is deep. As proof, we present a list of the five cool movie theaters that are no longer around, or are no longer used to show silver screen productions.
5. Miracle Theater
Built in 1948 the Miracle Theater was the brightest attraction of Coral
Gables' signature street, Miracle Mile. The famous Miracle Theater
marquee still overlooks the Mile, but now it welcomes patrons to the
Actor's Playhouse at the Miracle Theater. The cinema
first featured two large screens with balconies. In later years, the
balcony spaces were closed and converted into two additional smaller
screens. Several scenes from the underrated Wrestling Earnest Hemingway
(starring Robert Duvall, Shirley MacLaine, Richard Harris and Sandra
Bullock) were filmed inside the movie theater in 1992.
4. Cameo Theatre
Well known as a concert venue in the 1980s, it hosted such punk acts as
the Dead Milkmen before it became a mainstay of the club scene in the
90s (remember Disco Inferno) and this decade (Crobar). The Cameo was
built in 1936 as a art deco movie house and boasted more than a 1,000 seats.
3. Riviera Theatre
According to Cinema Treasures, the Loews
Riviera Theatre was one of the first shopping center suburban theaters
in the country when it opened in 1956. Like the Miracle Theater, it featured large screens with balconies that were later enclosed to add more screens. The opening feature was Picnic starring William
Holden and Kim Novak.
2. Plitt Gables
Built on Coral Way and SW 33rd Street where a supermarket now stands, the Plitt Gables (which was originally called the Twin Gables, although it was not located in Coral Gables) was built
in 1970 as a state-of-the-art theater with a high-fidelity sound
system, two large screens, and plush seating. The opening features were Jenny, starring Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda and Zabriskie Point. Though
it was successful for a couple of decades, the beginning of the end for
the Plitt came with the construction next door of what was then called the
Miracle Center, which had its own multi-screen movie theaters.
The Miracle Center theater closed in the 1990s.
1. Tropicaire Drive In
Built in 1949 at 7751 Bird Road just past the Palmetto Highway (and
across the street from Tropical Park) the Tropicaire Drive In was
the last drive-in theater in Miami when it closed in 1987. It had
palm trees and plants behind the screen tower and could hold 800 cars. In later years, the facility hosted a popular flea
market during weekend days.
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The last of the Miami drive ins.