Go on, it's storming outside. Watch the whole thing.
The Cedar-Lee Theatre (located at the corner of...) opened on Christmas Day, 1925 with a screening of The King of Main Street. It was originally a single, 1,100 seat house.
Just this past December 1 they celebrated their 85th anniversary with a showing of The Gold Rush. Tickets were twenty-five cents. I love that.
In spite of contemporary accounts suggesting the movies were an excellent value and source for escape during the Great Depression, theaters did indeed have to take special action to ensure the audiences kept arriving. One popular attraction was Bank Night, where a lottery was held for a cash prize. In 1936, thirty Cleveland area theaters challenged and defeated an existing police ruling that this was an illegal practice.
There was also Crystal Night and China Night, an event dramatized in the little seen My Summer Story, that little-seen sequel to A Christmas Story.
They used the lobby of the Palace for the lobby scene, but this scene was shot in the Ohio.
Hey, while we're at it ... here is a scene from that forlorn mess, shot in large part in Cleveland during the sweltering summer of 1993 and released never:
Skip the opening bit, what you want starts at 2:06 - the World Exposition. No, no, not that Exposition. In spite of what most Clevelanders believe, the tales of Ralphie Parker take place in Indiana, not Cleveland. And this World Exposition supposedly took place in Chicago. There was, of course, a 1934 Chicago World's Fair, but calling it an exposition in this movie leaves me wondering if they were trying to cut some kind of difference. When do these movies take place, anyway? There is nothing in A Christmas Story to suggest Depression-era hardship. The sequel does in a ham-fisted way (okay, you can watch this whole clip if you want to feel that.)
However. I like to think they did capture some of what it felt like to be squeezed in a "Streets of the World" exhibit, complete with live camel.
And oh, did I mention I'm in the camel scene? You won't see me. I am the young man with thinning hair in the loud shirt, visible from 4:50 to 4:56. No, really, you can't see me.
Wait. What was I talking about?
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History