The latest movie theater news and updates
September 14, 2017
From the Malibu Surfside News: All good things must come to an end.
The Regal Malibu Twin Theater played its last show Sunday, Sept. 10, saddening many and causing some to reflect on how important the theater had been to their families over the years.
The theater opened in 1972 as a single screen cinema. Hollywood Theaters reopened it as a twin movie house following renovations in November 2006, according to cinematreasures.org/theaters. In 2013, it was taken over by the Regal Entertainment Group whose favorable lease expired at the end of 2016. Since then, the theater has been on a month-to-month lease and its vitality has been in peril.
“I feel very sad about it closing,” Stella Allan said. “I’ve been coming here for more than 20 years. It’s nice to have a local theater to come to. It will definitely be missed.”
Some locals made sure to see the theater out, taking in the very last movie, reminiscing about old times and noting how its loss diminished the sense of community.
“We came to pay homage to the theater,” David Olan said. “We have a lot of good memories of the theater. I used to bring my son here. We saw Star Wars two weekends in a row. It’s sad to lose it. It was one of the simple things in life.”
Others remembered special moments at the theater.
“I saw my first 3-D movie at this theater,” Mary Russyniak recalled.
Malibu City Councilmember Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner bought the very last movie tickets and popcorn. He reflected on the significance of the theater closing.
“I am sorry to see such a tradition leave Malibu,” he said. “We’re losing so many traditions and the millennials are missing out on socializing instead of always being on 2-inch screens.”
The economic repercussions of the theater closing concerned some.
“I feel so sad about this,” Candace Brown said. “I hope all of the employees have jobs.”
In an internet age of Netflix, Hulu and similar platforms, many movie theaters are threatened.
“It’s sad to see the theater go,” said Barbara Bruderlin, president of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. “I enjoyed going to the movies and eating popcorn. The Chamber wants to thank the theater for all the years it had here in Malibu and to wish everyone at the theater the best in whatever endeavors they pursue next.”
Like many a movie that played in the theater over the years, this story did not end as many would have liked.
It is unclear what the property manager Jamestown has in store for the space.
What is clear is that for all who came to see the theater’s last performance, as the credits rolled for the last time, the end of an era happened in Malibu.
From the Lake Geneva Regional News: The Showboat movie theater complex has abruptly closed its doors, after providing Lake Geneva movie goers with big-screen entertainment for 20 years.
The six-screen theater at 2565 State Road 120 in the town of Lyons ceased operations Sept. 5, with a sign posted in the theater’s front window that reads “temporarily closed.”
A similar message was posted on the business Facebook page: “We are temporarily closed, sorry for any inconvenience.”
From The Sentinel: Many residents were upset when news that the Metro 4 Cinema in downtown Hanford was going to close in July, but a large response from the community kept the theater’s doors open; and now it seems there is a possibility the theater will stay open for good.
What could save the theater is a model from the company Movie Heroes, which asks customers to pay a monthly membership fee in order to watch an unlimited number of movies.
Filmmaker Matt Sconce and his business partner, Keith Walker, used the exact same model to save their hometown movie theater in Oakhurst.
Sconce said he found out about the Metro 4 from a friend, and rushed to Hanford the day before it was set to close to provide the solution to the theater’s problems.
On Oct. 1, Sconce and Walker will officially take over ownership of the Metro 4 Cinema.
Along with unlimited movies, the monthly membership will include discounts on food and drinks. For those not wanting a membership, ticket prices will be lower, Sconce said.
Walker likens the system to a “brick-and-mortar Netflix.” He said many customers have told him that the system takes the guesswork out of watching movies.
If customers don’t like a movie, they can simply walk out without feeling like they wasted their money.
“They no longer have that fear of not liking the movie they went to see,” Walker said. “There’s no guilt.”
“They won’t feel ripped-off,” Sconce said.
There’s also no monthly commitment, Walker said. Customers can buy memberships for a month without having to renew every month.
Walker said it was a combination of things that made them want to save theaters: first and foremost was a love for their hometown theater, but also their desire to help others.
With their first project, Walker said they essentially let the people in the town of Oakhurst decide if they wanted to save the theater, and they did.
Not only did the system stabilize the Oakhurst theater, but sales have tripled, Walker said. Movie Heroes also helped a theater in Coalinga stay open.
“We love helping theaters with history that people care about and are willing to preserve,” Sconce said.
In Hanford, Sconce said the monthly membership will be $19.95 per month for one person or $34.95 for two people. He said child rates are still being finalized.
Walker considers the model “innovative” and “liberating,” and hopes it will turn into a movement with more and more theaters adopting this method.
“We’re hoping this not only saves the theater, but revitalizes peoples’ love for movies,” Sconce said.
Mai Xiong, general manager of the Metro 4 Cinema, said she was extremely excited about the changes at the theater and hopes everything turns out great for the theater and the community.
“I’d love to thank that community,” Xiong said. “Especially all those people who visited the theater and expressed their support and happiness when we stayed open.”
From lohud.com: A New York City developer has purchased the iconic Larchmont Playhouse and plans to keep it as a movie theater, focusing on foreign, independent and arthouse films.
Charles Cohen closed on a deal Friday to buy the three-screen theater, according to a news release. The theater has remained vacant since last year.
No financial details on the acquisition were released, but Cohen said he hopes to begin an 18-month renovation and redesign of the playhouse by early 2018. He said he plans to keep the exterior as is, to preserve its historic character. The most recent asking price for the theater was $1.5 million.
August 28, 2017
From The New York Times: Along the walls of The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is a pair of murals, painted in 1927 when the space was known as the United Artists Theatre, depicting members of Hollywood’s creative class in heaven and studio heads as demons.
In the back of the theater is a projection booth, added in the 1950s, which made the Ace one of the first Los Angeles-area movie houses able to project the larger-format 70-mm film. And painted in open spaces of ornamental gold lattice in the building’s lobby is a line from Psalm 119: “Forever O Lord, thy Word is Settled in Heaven,” a holdover from the theater’s 20-year stint as the home of televangelist Gene Scott (it was then called the Los Angeles University Cathedral).
A century ago, downtown Los Angeles was the center of the city’s entertainment, with movie and vaudeville theaters seemingly on every block. Today, as the neighborhood’s renaissance enters its teenage years, the remaining cinemas are coming back to life, with live music bringing crowds and energy back to neglected venues.
From Curbed NY: As one Landmark movie theater—the beloved Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side—prepares to close in 2018, another one will open, albeit with a completely different vibe. The theater, called The Landmark at 57 West and situated on the ground floor on Bjarke Ingels’s West 57th Street courtscraper, is set to make its debut on September 15.
As we previously reported, the eight-screen theater will have a private bar, which will be called JD’s Place, along with design elements like a video wall and a special light display. As is de rigueur for movie theaters these days, the theaters themselves will be equipped with plush leather recliners, plenty of concessions (including ones from NYC purveyors like Two Boots and Fat Witch), and laser projection screens.
From Boston.com: One of New Hampshire’s last drive-in movie theaters is going to be sold for $2.5 million to a businessman with plans for condominiums and commercial development in its place.
The Laconia Sun reports Patricia Baldi has owned the Weirs Drive-In since 1974. She said the land is more valuable than the business, which is open about 12 weeks a year.
Al Mitchell, the buyer, owns properties in the area. He hopes to build up to 80 condominium units, an event center, a hotel and other businesses. He said he hopes to create the kind of attractive and successful commercial and tourism community that took place in Meredith in the 1980s.
The Weirs Drive-In was built in 1948. Baldi said her son, Larry, plans to open another drive-in theater elsewhere.
Ridgewood, Queens, NY – Could the former Ridgewood Theater be making a historic comeback as an arts space?
From QNS.com: One man is trying to reboot the historic former Ridgewood Theater to its past glory by advocating creating a fine arts or performing arts space on the ground floor.
Anthony Arroyo has been a fan of the Ridgewood Theater since he was a child, and was saddened to see a sign on the historic façade advertising for rental units and commercial space at the once-thriving community theater.
August 22, 2017
From the Weekly Citizen: The New Orleans film community lost one of its brightest stars last week with the passing of Rene Brunet, Jr. He was one of the last, if not the very last, of the movie theatre owner-operators who could rightfully claim title to being a “showman,” an appellation Brunet would have enthusiastically endorsed. In a world where movie exhibition, at least the mass audience variety, has become almost the exclusive preserve of corporate types (lawyers, accountants, fund managers, etc., etc.), at a time when “show business” is all about the “business,” Mr. Brunet was still about the “show” (though he had a keen nose for the business as well, as any distributor who was on the other side of one of his harangues can attest to).
While his story doesn’t quite begin with “born in a trunk in the Princess Theatre in Pocatello, Idaho” like Judy Garland (a fave of his), Brunet had show business—-well, the movie theatre division—-in his DNA at birth. He could tell you (at length) about the days of silent film, about how he played the organ in those halcyon days, and how moving pictures killed vaudeville. He lit up like a marquee when recalling the glory days of the movie theatre in New Orleans; he could recite the names of all the “naborhood theatres,” which were legion in the day, as if chanting the litany of the saints: the Abalon, the Cortez, the Escorial, the Fox, the Peacock…and, of course, the Prytania which he and his son Robert have operated in recent times. He gloried in telling stories about running movie theatres throughout the years, such as how in the early days of talking pictures when the sound was on a cylinder separate from the film, a streetcar rumbling by would make the stylus slip, causing an uproar among the patrons as the picture went out of sync—-much like a similar sequence in “Singin’ in the Rain,” his favorite movie of all time.
From CurbedLA.com: Once poised for a revival and a mixed-use makeover, the landmark Westlake Theatre is now for sale.
The seller? CRA/LA, the successor agency to the defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, which was dissolved under a 2011 state law. CRA/LA is tasked with winding down the business of the former redevelopment agency, and it’s looking to unload the historic venue—recognizable for its steel-framed rooftop neon sign—after failing to find a developer willing to partner on the redevelopment.
In 2016, it issued a request for proposals to rehab the theater and possibly build affordable housing and retail on four neighboring parcels. The goal was to make the area “an attractive regional arts and culture and entertainment destination … while offering employment, housing, education / institutional use and other services.”
But the request for proposals went unanswered, says Jimmy Chai, a broker with the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the property for CRA/LA.