SOUTH SHORE INSIDER: Hingham family runs Patriot Cinemas theater chain
GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger
Phil, Edie and David Scott run the Patriot Cinemas chain, which includes the theater at the Hingham Shipyard, where they are pictured.
After working in movie theaters as an usher, assistant manager, and finally a manager for over a decade, Phil Scott bought his own theater in 1964, the Loring Hall Cinema in Hingham. It had one screen, no stadium seating, and only a mono sound system – but it was his.
In the coming decades, Phil and his wife, Edie, would come to own as many as nine Massachusetts theaters between Pembroke and Worcester. They brought their son David into the business, which now operates as Patriot Cinemas.
Today, the Hingham family owns three theaters in Massachusetts – two in Hingham, one in Hanover – and one in Portland, Maine. They have vastly increased the number of movies shown at each theater and renovated them with state-of-the-art sound and digital projection systems. Through all of these changes, the Scott family says people are as inclined as ever to spend a night at the movies.
What originally attracted you to the movie theater business?
Phil: My grandparents used to take me to the movies all the time, and I guess I got the bug at a very young age. I started ushering when I was 14 in a small town in New Hampshire, and when I came down to Boston I became an assistant manager, then a manager at Paramount theaters.
When I got out of the service after the Korean War, I decided that if I was going to work all of these hours that I might as well work for myself. So I took over a little theater in Hingham.
How have your customers’ tastes changed since you first started?
Phil: I think it’s Hollywood’s taste that’s changed. Now they try to make movies more for the younger crowd, and play to the global market – to Russia, China, Europe, and Japan.
David: There used to be fewer movies, too. You used to have one movie coming out every two weeks, now you have four movies a week coming out that get two weeks’ worth of business until it’s cannibalized by something else.
Edie: It’s become a perishable product, with a short shelf life.
What new amenities or features have you added recently?
Phil: Well, we try to keep changing with the times. Decades ago, we had singles, then twins, then multiplexes.
David: In the ’80s sound started changing, too. First it went from mono, to stereo, and then surround sound.
Edie: Now we’re doing digital projection. We just converted all of our theaters to digital, across 23 screens. I think it’s fabulous, but the customers don’t really notice.