Plitt Theaters opened the Crossroads Cinemas on 20 June 1980 with "Can't Stop the Music," "The Blues Brothers," and "Fame." The triplex was the first movie theater to open in downtown Salt Lake City since the Centre Theatre in 1937. It was also the business to open in the new Crossroads Plaza Mall. At the time, Plitt Theaters had 550 theaters nationwide, with 20 screens in Utah and Idaho.[2, 3]
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on opening night was attended by three vice presidents of Plitt Theaters: Ed Plitt of Los Angeles, Sam Plitt of Chicago, and Erwin Cohen of Chicago. Other attendees were Blair Walkington of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, host; Charles Huggard, Plitt district manager; Cal Ellertson, Crossroads Cinemas manager; Jack Oakland and Sid Foulger, partners in Oakland – Foulger Developers, developer of Crossroads Mall; Danny Kramer, emcee and KSL personality; Utah National Guard, First Battalion, 140th Field Artillery, presentation of colors; and the U. S. Postal Band, music.
The theater was located in the northwest corner of the lower level, near the food court. The entrance was near an open stairwell and escalator ascending to the highest level of the mall. Three poster cases lined the wall leading to the ticket window. After passing through the entrance doors, patrons descended a flight of stairs to the lobby. A separate flight of stairs rising in the opposite direction provided an exit. An elevator near the exit provided wheelchair access. The concessions stands stood between the entrances of auditoriums two and three, with restrooms opposite. A door in the Mens room provided access to the projection level by a spiral staircase. Moviegoers exiting the auditoriums through the rear doors had to go up a flight of stairs and walk down a long concrete hallway, which opened into the mall near the ticket booth.
Theater One featured 558 seats, with 70mm and 6-track Dolby Stereo. Theater Two, with 508 seats, was equipped for 35mm Dolby Stereo. Theater Three, 502 seats, had “conventional sound and projection equipment.” The opening day boasted of “widely spaced lounge seats,” “specially designed acoustics,” and “the most advanced electronic sound system.” All three auditoriums had screens measuring 16 feet high by 36 feet wide.[1, 2]
Deseret News movie critic Jeff Vice criticized Crossroads Cinemas in 1998 as having “fallen into painful disrepair. The theater seats feature perilously flat padding and protruding springs, as well as an exaggerated 'rocking' action that can send one patron into the lap of the person sitting in the row behind him.” To moviegoers attending the exclusive re-release of “Gone with the Wind” at Crossroads, he warned, “Bring a pillow or be prepared to need chiropractic work. Either that, or arrive early to start searching for the handful of 'comfy chairs' (ones with at least a modicum of padding).”
Loews Cineplex closed the Crossroads Cinemas after its final showings on Saturday, 17 June 2000. Business had fallen considerably during the previous year. Its main competitor, the new Century 16 in South Salt Lake, had been siphoning business off of other area theaters since opening in 1998. If Crossroads had been performing well, Loews might have renewed the lease and made improvements, but felt the triplex had “too few screens to make renovations worthwhile.” The theater had survived for 20 years, “an eternity in today's competitive movie-theater market.”[4, 5, 6]
"By current standards, that theater survived much longer than expected. So we've simply chosen to shift our attention to the remaining screens we have out there, which are still doing quite well," said Mark Pascucci, a spokesman for Loews. "This isn't really that unusual... As the whole motion-picture exhibition industry changes, the shelf life for theaters is getting shorter and shorter. When they get old, they're retired."
By 2003, Nordstrom, one of the main anchors at Crossroads, began lobbying for zonning changes that would allow the department store to move to The Gateway. Nordstrom complained of insufficient parking at Crossroads and an unacceptable tenant mix.[8, 10]
Worried about the possible demise of the Crossroads Plaza, dozens of downtown businesses placed a full-page newspaper advertisement urging against the move. The ad stated, “If Nordstrom relocates to The Gateway, it will significantly imperil the future of Main Street retail.”
On 19 March 2003, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it had reached an agreement to purchase Crossroads Plaza from Foulger Pratt. The LDS Church already owned the majority of land underneath the mall and, through its realty arm, the adjacent ZCMI Center.
Plans for City Creek Center, announced on 3 October 2006, called for the demolition of both Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center. The parking garage at Crossroads closed on 3 January 2007. The remaining tenants in the mall were in the final stages of terminating their leases and preparing to move or shutter their stores. Demolition was expected to begin later in the month, moving west to east on the block.
1. Opening Day Ad, 20 June 1980
2. “Crossroads theaters opening this week”, Deseret News, 18 June 1980, A23
3. “Woe's the word for moviegoers in downtown S.L.”, Deseret News, 6/23/2000, page W1
4. "Downtown S.L., Clearfield lose movie houses", Deseret News, 15 June 2000, page D7
5. “Theater wars: Moviegoing options downtown reduced by 3”, Deseret News, 23 June 2000
6. “Cinema closure spurs speculation”, Deseret News, 23 June 2000
7. "'Gone With Wind' back at Loews - but bring a pillow if you go", Deseret News, 28 June 1998
8. "Church to buy Crossroads Plaza mall", Deseret News, 19 March 2003
9. "Downtown divided over Nordstrom", Deseret News, 14 May 2003
10. "Nordstrom will stay", Deseret News, 30 August 2004
11. "Downtown rebound: LDS Church unveils plans for 20-acre development", Deseret News, 04 October 2006
12. "Demolition approaching for Salt Lake malls", Deseret News, 04 January 2007