De Lux launch: National Amusements showcases Its Legacy


On August 27, Norwood, Mass.-based National Amusements, Inc. (NA) stylishly celebrated the grand opening of its third Showcase Cinema de Lux (CDL) of the second generation.
Legacy Place in Dedham, Mass., features a full “Studio 3” restaurant and a broad range of refreshment options that include branded offerings from Starbucks to Nathan’s Famous favorites. The premium Lux Level VIP bar and lounge extends its menu—about 65% has been changed since the last launch—at the push of an integrated call button. With Angus beef sliders an ongoing hit and full-sized hamburgers available for the first time, in-theatre dining and bar services are available to 180 patrons in four auditoria sections with custom-designed swivel tables that extend from the super-plush and private love seats.

No wonder the media release justifiably invited guests to be “pampered” and to “indulge themselves” in “an enhanced level of luxury and comfort.” The 15-screen Legacy Place cinema complex anchors a 675,000-square-foot (62,700 sq. m.) lifestyle destination of the same name with some 75 stores and restaurants. All of the cinemas still have 35mm film installed and three are equipped with NEC DLP Cinema projectors, Dolby D-Cinema servers and RealD. Some 2,900 rockers fill capacities ranging from just under 100 to over 400 seats. (For more details, please refer to our “Legacy Leaders” sidebar.)

“This is really a love-fest,” National Amusements’ president Shari Redstone insisted in her welcome. “We really enjoyed working together,” she said of the developers and municipal representatives. “Walking around Legacy Place earlier today, I was once again reminded that actions speak a lot louder than words. I could not be prouder than I am…to welcome you to what we believe will become the number-one lifestyle destination in New England and beyond.” Redstone thanked all those “who have been working 24 hours a day for the past several weeks, so that we could open these doors to this beautiful theatre this evening. And it has been 24 hours, if not 38 and 42 per day.”

All of you who have been reading Film Journal International, at a much more relaxed pace, had the opportunity to follow, first-hand and exclusively, the progression of the Cinema de Lux concept and ensuing brand. The Lux Level pilot debuted during the holiday 2007 season at Showcase Randolph, Mass. (March 2008 edition). Eight months thereafter, Redstone and her team launched 14 de Lux screens and the neighboring, state-of-the-art “Showcase Live!” entertainment venue at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass. (FJI October 2008).

“Years ago,” Redstone details, “I embarked on a journey to reinvent the moviegoing experience in our theatres. I realized that while we could not control what appears on our screens, we could control the experience that our patrons had when they walked through our doors. I believed that if we did it right, while they might forget the movie—and we always hoped that they didn’t—they would never forget lounging in a comfortable chair, drinking a Cookie Dough Martini or Pineapple Passion, perhaps, and snacking on their favorite foods. Fortunately, here at Legacy we not only have tenants which are determined to make their projects unique, but partners who share our vision and who understand that it is not just about what is on the screen or in the store, but about the experience of our guests and the memories that will bring them back.”

And for her, the Place is full of memories too. “This is indeed a very special evening for me personally,” Redstone revealed. “Not only because of what we have accomplished here at Legacy—it is truly a dream come true—but also because of the significance to my family, to National Amusements and the community of Dedham.” In 1948, “long before I was born,” she insists with a laugh, Shari’s grandfather Michael Redstone “purchased much of the land that is now part of this project. It has been home to many of the Redstone family businesses, including Frosty’s Ice Cream, one of our original drive-ins and numerous Showcase Cinemas.”
A testament to the company founder’s foresight and forté, this particular property—like so many others at National Amusements—also showcases, quite literally, the past 60 years of exhibition history.

Starting out as a drive-in in 1948, the first Showcase hardtop opened right by its side as a triplex on Nov. 21, 1973. It was in that same year that the Redstone family trademarked the term “multiplex.” On Dec. 22, 1976, a fourth screen was added and—to the day, two years later—the official multiplexing age began in earnest, reaching its first culmination with theatre number eight on Nov. 14, 1979. By the time the Dedham drive-in closed down in 1982, additional screens were being deployed, with Redstone’s first dozen completed on August 17, 1990.

Further highlights collected by The Boston Globe include 450 motorists receiving “emergency shelter at the cinema during the blizzard of ’78,” and the circuit making national headlines in 1990 when it relented to town pressure and did not showcase Henry & June, the first ever NC-17 title. Dedham’s selectmen and women did not return any favors to NA after a federal judge upheld the town ordinance that forbade showing movies at midnight (Feb. 10, 1994). Good will and fortune changed, however, when the Dedham planning board gave partners WS Development and National Amusements the go-ahead to reshape the legacy of the place (August 31, 2007).

If all that were not enough history, NA’s corporate headquarters was located across the cinema parking lot for numerous years as well. Showcase Dedham closed on April 10, 2008 (“TV news coverage showed the 71-year-old projectionist, who had been there since day one, in the booth. Ticket prices were rolled back to $2.50 for all shows, which included the 1971 flick The Last Picture Show,” local expert Ron Salters reported on with theatre and home offices demolition ensuing in May.

“My grandfather was a visionary,” Shari Redstone declares. “He always believed in owning the land beneath our theatres. He knew that this would not only create long-term value but would give us the flexibility that we would need to adapt to changing times. It was his vision that gave us the ability to transition from drive-in theatres to indoor multiplexes, to megaplexes and now to Cinema de Lux. It gave us the foundation we needed to acquire Viacom and CBS. It even gave us the ability to become real estate developers in our own right and to embark on a project…as ambitious and spectacular as Legacy Place.”

But what Shari learned “of even greater importance” from Michael Redstone was the value of relationships. “The success of National Amusements is very much grounded on the friendships and partnerships that we have built over time, especially in the communities where we do business.”

“We have indeed come a long way since 1936,” she continues, “when my grandfather purchased our first piece of property in Long Island, New York. And while in many ways this business has changed enormously, it has continued to be founded on the principles and values that were so important to him and that he passed on to his family and to all of us at National Amusements. It is indeed a great honor for me to be here this evening dedicating this amazing project to my grandfather. I know that he is up there smiling with us and that his legacy will indeed live on forever… The future is just beginning.”

Legacy Leaders

The following list of vendors, manufacturers, service providers and offerings is based on observation on-site and is not intended to be complete.

Sight and Sound

  • Fifteen Century film projectors with Christie lamphouses and platters
  • Two NEC1600C and one NEC2500S, all with Dolby Digital Cinema servers and RealD upgrade
  • Fifteen Sanyo pre-show digital projectors (advertising provided by Screenvision; special events/alternative content by NCM Fathom)
  • LG and revolution HD flatscreens across the lobby, lounges and hallways
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • JBL speakers and subwoofers, Ashly amplifiers and Dolby Digital Surround EX in all auditoria
  • Ticketing and concessions software and hardware by Radiant

Food and Beverage
100 linear feet (30.5 m.) of concession stand area serving Pepsi products, ICEE frozen drinks and Pop Weaver popcorn (Colar Ad bags), alongside Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Starbucks coffee specialties, freshly baked goods from Pretzel Depot, Famous Famiglia pizza by the slize, and Nathan’s premium hot dogs, hamburgers and other appetizers and Tostitos White Round Premium Nacho Chips.

Design and Construction
Construction architects: SPG (3) Philadelphia, PA; design architects: Julian Taylor Design Assoc., Romsey, United Kingdom; mechanical consultants: EviroDesign, Austin, TX.

Lifestyle and Shopping
Based in Chestnut Hill, Mass., WS Development is one of the largest privately owned retail development firms in the United States. Since 1981, WS has been a “leader in the acquisition, development, management and redevelopment” of more than 80 properties, totaling over 16 million square feet (1.48 mil. sq. m.) of retail space.

In addition Showcase Cinema de Lux, Legacy Place is anchored by Whole Foods Market, L.L.Bean, Borders bookstore and Kings bowling and sports bar. Joining in the cinema opening were Anthropologie, H&M and The Paper Store, while P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and City Sports had previously gone online.