Anytime I’ve been to the movie theatre at NorthPark Mall, in every single one of its many incarnations, it has never really been all that busy. Many times, I’d be in a theatre alone with just my second run flick and a one dollar hot dog. While to me, it was a blessing, still, it’s the type of cinematic loneliness that leaves you wondering just how much longer they possibly could keep going on like this.
The answer is, apparently, up until last week. The cheap movies at NorthPark—then officially known as an AMC Classic NorthPark 7—popped it’s last batch of corn and shut their doors with little to no fanfare from the movie-going public in Oklahoma City this weekend.
Even though it’s one of the few theatres around here that I’ve never worked at, for as long as I’ve been in Oklahoma City—about thirty years now—that was always the one stable joint in town for a cheap movie ticket on a Sunday afternoon. One discount outlet after another might have changed its corporate namesake, but, regardless, you could always guarantee that a movie you missed the first go around would be playing there, four times a day, usually for about a week or so.
I remember going to NorthPark in high school to catch movies like Con Air, Grosse Pointe Blank and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion with the various girlfriends that mostly put up with my then obsession with both feature films and cheap dates. It was still an ideal date-spot as far back as a couple of years ago, when the single mom I was dating—possibly the love of my life, natch—and I would take the kids to see San Andreas or TMNT: Out of the Shadows, all for under ten bucks, refreshments included.
The theatre had been a part of the mall—if you can really even call it a mall anymore—since the early 70s. It was one of the bigger deals in town, a four-screen house that showed the best and brightest of first-run films. Of course, when the various General Cinemas and AMC Theatres took over the Quail area, the theatre was eventually converted to a discount house in the 90s, with three more screens added for extra value.
Looking back though, no matter what company was running the theatre, there’s no denying that it did get progressively worse, even after AMC came in and made a handful of changes. The movie houses were total shoeboxes and actually quite stuffy. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to trip on the frayed carpet or the one-buck concessions to sell out by the late show. And who can forget that high school auditorium-style seating?
But, you know, you get what you pay for and, really, you were paying for a one dollar theatrical experience that, sadly, is no more and, really, probably never will be in this town again.