This Week in Demolition, we see the end of AMC Megaplex, and the start of a new housing development. The AMC 30 Theaters at 2949 Dunvale Rd, Houston, TX 77063 has an odd history. In 1992, Wal-Mart was looking to expand their presence in inner Houston by building a new side by side Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. The property selected for this new venture was one of the only major vacancies left along Westheimer by the 1990s. The 65 acre tract, which was originally farm land, had been bought up in the 1950s along with most other plots on the new thoroughfare. The land was sold between development corporations throughout the 20th century, finally being sold to Wal-Mart after a bank had acquired it in an oil bus foreclosure. The new store proved to be quite the hit, bringing in other competitors, like K-Mart, and Venture. By 1996, the new developments were brining large amounts of traffic to the area, and Wal-Mart looking to sell an unused 20 acre tract they had initially purchased, quietly found AMC as a buyer. AMC’s Dunvale Megaplex, was one of the largest and most modern theaters in Houston when it opened. However, with shifting demographics, and economic downturn effecting the area negatively, the AMC took on somewhat of a rough reputation. The theater was a nice place to catch a movie, but the parking lot had its own reputation. During the economic recession the Sam’s Club was converted by Wal-Mart into a special Business Center concept, but this wouldn’t be enough for it to survive, finally closing in 2010. In somewhat of a predictive moment, the Sam’s would be replaced with residential development. As for the AMC, the theater lost its lease during the pandemic, and the lot was sold a few months later to Austin based home builder Meritage Homes who plans to develop Dunvale Gardens. According to planning documents, this will be a private neighborhood with 243 lots shoved onto the 20 acres, meaning this will be a compact community.
This is a list of the buildings which received a City of Houston demolition permit the week before this post.
4608 Ivanhoe St, Houston, TX 77027– Afton Oaks, Photos
1132 Omar St, Houston, TX 77009– Norhill, Photos
2019 Althea Dr, Houston, TX 77018– Oak Forest, Photos
4718 Braesvalley Dr, Houston, TX 77096– Meyelrand, Photos
2513 Brentwood Dr, Houston, TX 77019– River Oaks, Photos
4912 La Branch St, Houston, TX 77004– Southmore, 1930s Apartments, Photos
5346 Schumacher Ln, Houston, TX 77056– Larchmont, Photos
3818 Drake St, Houston, TX 77005– Montclair, Photos
826 1/2 Cortlandt St, Houston, TX 77007– Heights, Photos
1914 Park St, Houston, TX 77019– Hyde Park, Photos
118 E 31st 1/2 St, Houston, TX 77018– Starkweather, Photos
6922 De Priest St, Houston, TX 77091– Home Meadows, Photos
3023 Grovey St, Houston, TX 77026– Grovey
2029 Woodhead St, Houston, TX 77019– Hyde Park Main
5955 Ridgeway Dr, Houston, TX 77033– Edgewood
4511 Dewberry St, Houston, TX 77021– Southern Village
1418 Cheshire Ln, Houston, TX 77018– Oak Forest
1230 Lamonte Ln, Houston, TX 77018– Oak Forest
1414 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX 77006– Lancaster Place, Garage Only
618 Val Lena Dr, Houston, TX 77024– Fon Villas
6815 Alpine Dr, Houston, TX 77061– Garden Villas
962 Elkhart St, Houston, TX 77091– Highland Heights
1507 Nashua St, Houston, TX 77008– Heights Annex
275 Pine Hollow Ln, Houston, TX 77056– Pine Hollow
5234 Greylog Dr, Houston, TX 77048– Crestmont
2949 Dunvale Rd, Houston, TX 77063– AMC 30 Dunvale
4103 Cochran St, Houston, TX 77009– Formerly Meat Supplier
4503 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006– House converted to African Art Center
The good thing about having 30 screens is that AMC had trouble filling them up much of the year, giving lots of limited releases, documentaries, and foreign language releases a theatrical run in Houston. I saw a handful of things at this AMC that I don’t believe played anywhere else in the Houston area.
Anonymous: Unfortunately the North Oaks dollar cinema closed last year. It was almost 50 years old and was one of the city’s oldest theatres.
By the time I got to working at AMC, North Oaks was already the red-headed step child of the chain, even in terms of being a subrun venue. It had bizarre projection bouncing the light off mirrors instead of a direct throw to the screen and they only ever got hand-me-down equipment when they needed something. It was probably one of the cheapest AMC theatres ever built – it was completely without a mezzanine level for the projectors. The space is for lease, however, even as a theatre. I don’t know if the former operator took the projectors out when they closed (probably did – he was probably leasing them from Tri-State theatre supply).
It’s sad to say that the pandemic got every sub-run venue in the country. No more Dollar Cinemas because by the time movies hit dollar cinemas anyway, they’re on DVD and streaming platforms already. Business was way, way down at sub runs and 2020 was the final nail in the coffin.
It’s very sad to hear the news that the North Oaks Theater has closed, but thanks for the information. I can’t say I’m too surprised about the news. Do you know if the little mall corridor leading to the old theater is still open to the public? I’m guessing not. That was really the last vestige of the mall part of North Oaks.
I used to work for AMC back in the 90s and 00s and considering the turn in the cinema industry after that point, you will never see another 30 plex like this built. Studio 30 (and it’s surviving twin Gulf Point 30) was AMC’s big middle finger to Cinemark in the Houston market. AMC and Cinemark – at least in the Houston market – were super competitive in always trying to have more screens than their rival.
Case in point, Deerbrook 24 was originally Deerbrook 18 and during construction the additional screens were added as to not be outdone by the now long gone Cinemark Westchase 24. That’s why those 6 screens up the escalator are such an oddity.
I was actually shocked to see that the new Regal Cinema Benders Landing was 24 screens. That’s extremely rare these days to have that many screens in a new build complex.
I’m relatively unaware about most things cinema, but I did realize that this was a HUGE movie theater. Honestly, I’m somewhat surprised the Gulf Point location is still open. Someone should document that location while it’s still open. I grew up going to AMC First Colony 24, which kept its original space themed decor for many years, and only recently had the “side snack bars”, and the old carpet removed in the renovation that added McMuffins.
Yeah, hardly anyone uses satellite concession stands anymore. And speaking of First Colony, it always surprised me AMC kept Fountains 18 after they bought out Loews Theatres since it’s so close by.
If there is one thing I’m SUPER nerdy about, it’s Houston movie theatres.
I thought AMC was the definition of cool when they had that AMC 8 at the Willowbrook The Commons next to the Phar-Mor. The covered driveway for the AMC was very neat, but admittedly it was quite 1980s looking. After that theater closed and relocated to 249, AMC was just another generic theater to me. I’m not sure if the North Oaks Mall discount theater has survived the pandemic, but if it has, I have to give that consideration for the neatest theater in the area.
Supposedly the Mall of the Mainland Cinemark Movies 12, which is now a discount theater showing current movies, has not changed much at all since it opened. That might be neat to see. Really, I have not been inside a movie theater since 2002 so I’m probably the complete opposite to Jason when it comes to movie theaters, lol.
While I don’t have any photos of the exterior, I do have one nice shot if the interior of Willowbrook 8. It was very typically 1980s AMC on the interior and looked exactly like Town and County 10, with just 2 less screens. You can check it out here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/K5NqpYMg1LjCGwjH6
MOTM 12 exists, yes. Cinemark has put new carpet in when it needed it, and they took out the old film projectors and put in new digital projectors when the industry required it. They did not upgrade the sound systems, and it still has the original purple seats from when it first opened. I doubt they’ll ever sink a dime into that place. It operates showing first run shows at discounted prices.
Sadly, North Oaks 6 didn’t make it. It was such an oddball theatre when I worked for AMC – it was already a discount house at that point and it had the strangest projection setups ever.
The pandemic actually got every single sub-run venue left in the country. Dollar cinemas were struggling as it was with studios shrinking windows before movies were released to digital and DVD. Often, movies were sent to the dollar cinemas the same day that they were put out on streaming platforms and dvd, and ticket sales were way, way down.
So, again growing up out there the Loews (which was originally over the in the Deauville Mall I believe), was marketed toward a different crowd versus First Colony. It seems that the Loews drew in folks from Stafford, Alief, Meadows Place, etc.. Where as the First Colony one, pulled in folks from out in Richmond/Rosenberg. The former Loews was (is?) cheaper than the First Colony AMC, and ever since they got the recliners, just as nice as First Colony.
If you are ever interested in doing a write-up on any special or interesting theaters, let me know!
There are very few theatres that were originally a Loews operating left in the country. I always loved the design of that theatre, but it turns out, it wasn’t even a Loews design – they took it when they bought Star Theatres (not Star Cinema Grill here – but Star Theatres that was solely in Michigan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Theatres). Two Loews in Houston got the “Star” design – Fountains 18, and Magic Johnson Northline 12.
And I could write novels about the Houston Cinema scene with all the useless information I have and the contacts I still have either in, or retired from, the industry. If there is ever something you’re looking for, I’d be happy to lend a hand.
The Loews Fountains theater was the first place I ever encountered a self-flushing toilet. I ran out of the restroom and told the friends I was with that they HAD to see it! Hey, I was in middle school.