The latest movie theater news and updates

  • August 29, 2016

    Hollywood Reporter: Summer Box-Office Wrap: Why Hollywood’s on Red Alert Despite Near-Record Revenue

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    From The Hollywood Reporter: The sequelitis virus infected a number of big-budget franchise installments, except for a precious few (think ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Finding Dory’), while horror also helped save the day and Disney dominated.

    Even though there’s still a week to go before the summer season ends on Labor Day, the verdict is in: Box-office revenue in North America should clock in at $4.5 billion, predicts comScore. That’s the second-best showing ever, behind only 2013’s $4.8 billion and up one percent over last year.

    So why is Hollywood on red alert? Blame it on the sequelitis virus, which hit the U.S. particularly hard.

    On the one hand, moviegoers in the U.S. and across the oceans turned out in force for Marvel Studio’s franchise installment Captain America: Civil War and Pixar’s sequel Finding Dory — they delivered Disney the summer’s two top-grossing films worldwide with $1.52 billion and $929.1 million, respectively. But the same moviegoers largely rejected a number of other big-budget sequels, reboots and remakes. One genre that’s been immune to the disease is horror, helping to deliver a number of solid doubles and triples that boosted the bottom line.

    In terms of attendance, 518 million people went to the movies this summer in North America, according to early projections. That’s down roughly 3 percent from last year, but up from a dismal showing in 2014, when 497 million consumers bought tickets. However, the 518 million is behind summer 2013 (585 million) and summer 2012 (539 million).

    Heading into summer, no studio executive could have imagined that STX Entertainment’s $20 million Bad Moms, an R-rated comedy that has grossed $95 million to date in North America, or Universal’s $5 million horror sequel The Purge: Anarchy ($79 million) would domestically out-gross the $170 million sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass starring Johnny Depp, which earned just $77 million in North America.

  • Philadelphia, PA – Pearl Theatre at Avenue North closes, to be replaced with AMC

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    From philly.com: The Pearl Theatre at Avenue North closed over the weekend, ending a decade-long run for the seven-screen movie house at Temple University’s North Philadelphia campus. It will be replaced by what Avenue North developer Bart Blatstein calls “the city’s first high-end” movie theater from AMC Theaters.

    “It is a testimony for the support of this theater and how great the community around it is,” Blatstein said of the incoming AMC on Monday, adding that much of the Pearl’s business came from neighborhood residents.

    AMC, which will convert the former Pearl into one of its own locations, currently offers a number of novel approaches to the moviegoing experience, including food service and alcoholic beverages in some areas. What amenities the coming theater at Avenue North will offer was not immediately clear.

  • August 26, 2016

    Elkhart, KS – Historic theatre proves more than a hub in town’s revival

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    From The Washington Times: Brent McKinley recalls it well – watching Willie Nelson in “Honeysuckle Rose” on the Doric Theatre’s big screen.

    The 1980 movie “probably wasn’t very good,” he said with a chuckle.

    But it would be the last movie the then-10-year-old McKinley would recall watching on the Doric’s screen before Morton County’s only theater went dark a short time later.

    The theater was turned into apartments for a while before becoming a deteriorating storage building. McKinley, who tried to lead a revival of the theater last decade, didn’t figure it would ever flicker on again, due to the expensive price tag.

    Now, the 35-year intermission has ended. The popcorn is popping again. The movies are rolling.

    At the age of 98, there is a breath of new life in the Doric.

  • Springfield, MO – Springfield’s Palace Theater will show first-run movies, change names

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    From KSPR.com: The Palace Theater in Springfield’s Chesterfield Village will soon show first-run movies.

    Owners are renaming it as the Premiere Palace. The change starts Friday.

    Here is what you can expect. You will pay $4 for matinees. Evening movies will set you back $6.


    News release:

    The Palace Theatre will become the Premiere Palace, a discount first-run movie theatre, starting on Friday, Aug. 26. The Premiere Palace will show weekly new releases at a discounted rate. Ticket prices will be $4 for matinees, children (ages 3 – 12), seniors and students. The evening price for adults will be $6.

    “The people and city of Springfield have been incredibly supportive of the Palace since it opened,” said Warren Theatres president Bill Warren. “We are looking forward to giving the opportunity to see new movies, the weekend they open, at a discounted ticket price.”

    Online ticketing will be available soon after opening. The Premiere Palace will accept cash, Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

    The Premiere Palace is at 2220 W. Chesterfield Boulevard.

  • Irwin, PA – Lamp Theatre in Irwin ready to shine for 2nd grand reopening

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    From Triblive: A second grand reopening of the renovated historic Lamp Theatre is planned for Saturday, about three years after major renovations were started on the former Main Street movie house.

    “The goal has been to entertain the community. It has been mission No. 1, and it has been a great response. We keep exceeding expectations,” said John Gdula, president of the Lamp Theatre Corp. board of directors, which oversees the multi-use performance center. Irwin turned over ownership of the structure to the theater corporation in August 2015.

    In the past year, the Lamp has attracted more than 10,000 patrons to watch a variety of performances, including concerts, comedies and musical theater, said John Cassandro, general manager of the Lamp and president of Irwin Borough Council.

    “Our gate receipts are really good,” Gdula said.

    With a year of operations under their belt, managers have a better idea of how to operate the facility, Gdula said.

    “It was a learning curve. We’re evaluating the market and seeing how the community is responding” to the kind of acts that are being booked, Gdula said.

    Those theatergoers flowing into downtown Irwin have benefited the restaurants and has given the community more vibrancy, said Lois Woleslagle, president of the Irwin Business and Professional Association, a volunteer group that promotes Main Street activities.

    “Some businesses are profiting from what is going on,” Gdula said.

    For the grand opening, a VIP reception will be at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for donors, business owners and those who played key roles in its revitalization. The evening will feature the Beatles tribute band Hard Day’s Night.

    The night’s festivities “will be able to show those people who so kindly donated their time and money exactly what has been done with both,” said Bill Elder, operations manager. “We can show everyone where the theater started, where we stand now and where we plan to be in the future.”

    The Lamp closed in 2004, a victim of changing times, when movie buffs were opting for multi-screen theaters in shopping malls and plazas. Downtown theaters in places such as Greensburg, Charleroi and Monessen became a relic of the past, although the Lamp hung on longer than most.

    The Westmoreland Cultural Trust, a Greensburg-based foundation that owned and renovated the city’s Palace Theatre, assumed ownership of the Lamp in January 2007. But progress toward reopening suffered a setback in March 2009 when a fire in the abutting Irwin Hotel damaged the theater. When the proposed renovations for the theater came in at $250,000 over estimates in July 2012, the project again stalled.

    Irwin took ownership of the building in May 2013 and began exterior renovations. Officials hoped to have it opened by fall 2014, in time for the 150th anniversary of Irwin’s founding.

    “It was a little bit daunting at first,” Gdula said of the necessary renovations.

    To get the point where it was viable again and worthy of a grand opening, backers had to raise sufficient money to save the 79-year-old theater. It was the beneficiary of about $600,000 in county and state grants and another $150,000 of in-kind contributions. The renovations that relit the Lamp could not have been completed with the money that was available were it not for an estimated 3,000 hours of volunteer work from more than 300 people, Gdula said.

    Gdula said he was “amazed” by the community’s response to rebuild the Lamp.

    “The whole community got invested into it,” Woleslagle said.

    The rebirth of the Lamp is proof “there’s a phenomenal group of people in that town,” said Irwin native Christine Orosz, executive director of Stage Right!, a Greensburg-based theater company that put on children’s and adult performances at the renovated Lamp.

    “It’s a nice-sized place. People are as happy to be at the Lamp as we are,” Orosz said.

    Orosz remembers going to see movies at the Lamp as a youngster. Now, it’s fun to see the students they have taken to Irwin for performances enjoying the town as she and her brother, Anthony Marino, artistic director for Stage Right!, did years ago.

    For the next 12 months, Gdula said, the theater board will focus on two initiatives that will require fundraising — obtaining a digital projector that costs an estimated $50,000 and extending the theater into a proposed courtyard with a walled-in area and a concessions section, a project estimated to cost $100,000.

    So many of the patrons have asked management, “ ‘When can we start seeing movies again?‘ ” Gdula said.

  • Philadelphia, PA – Watch drones race inside the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House

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    From Curbed Philadelphia: About a month ago, a group called the Philly Quad Squad went inside the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House to race drones for a segment on CSN Philly’s 700 Level Show. True, the 2:45-minute video is more about the drone racing than the opera house, but it still allows viewers to sneak a unique peek through the space.

    Take a very fast tour of the theater yourself:http://philly.curbed.com/2016/8/22/12582820/drone-video-philadelphia-metropolitan-opera-house

    Developer Eric Blumenfeld, who owns a stake in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, has plans to turn it into a major music venue after a $35 million renovation.

  • Lafayette, CA – New Owners Ready to Resurrect Park Theater

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    From Lamorinda Weekly: A trio of partners are excited to bring new life to the historic Park Theater in Lafayette, which has been closed for more than a decade. Armed with a business plan and a sense of urgency after learning that a developer was interested in the property, local residents Cathy and Fred Abbott, along with partner Alex McDonald, recently signed papers to purchase the theater property that comes with a small, narrow rectangular parking area in the rear. Cathy Abbot said she “figured it was now or never.” If all goes according to plan, escrow should close in early 2017. Shortly afterward, with the help of additional investors, the group hopes to begin an estimated $6 million of renovations. Their plan is for adaptive re-use of the 64-year-old building to feature movies, performances, and music by partnering with a variety of local entities for everything from comedy shows, educational lectures, independent films and more. The partners envision a beautiful structure that celebrates the art deco streamline moderne style, possibly including a living wall of plants on an upstairs rooftop deck and bar that would serve beer on tap and locally sourced wine. Grassroots efforts in the past to reopen the beloved landmark were never able to make a go of it, due to a variety of factors: the difficulty in making enough money to support the business with one screen in the age of the multiplex, significant structural issues, non-handicap accessible bathrooms, and of course parking constraints that don’t meet the current city code. Many residents had high hopes when rumors of Fenton’s Creamery taking over swirled in 2011, but they never materialized. The trio are well aware of the significant amount of investment it will take to allow the building to be open for business after a walk-through with a structural engineer. “Alex, Fred and I want to create something that is kid- and senior-friendly, a place where everyone feels welcome,” Cathy Abbott said. “We think it would be great to have a Battle of the Bands for the local high schools, a place for nonprofit benefits and private rentals,” said the Acalanes High School graduate, who went on to get an MBA from UC Berkeley. “We believe we have figured out a plan that will allow the theater to be a successful and sustainable business that adapts to the times and provides a magic mix of entertainment options for people in the local area.” Fred Abbott is an international law professor, specializing in trade, public health and intellectual property; he’s also a fan of science fiction and film noir. Originally from Scotland, Happy Valley resident McDonald is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who says he is committed to showing movies again at the theater. They acknowledge that a number of things will need to come together to get this project off the ground: finding the right architect that could restore the theater and make it more functional, working with the city about parking, and especially finding investors to breathe new life into the vintage gem. Noting that the city recently purchased a nearby parking lot, and with plans for alternative transportation, Cathy Abbott hopes for a compromise on parking, especially since a renovated business would bring vitality and additional tax revenue to the city. Built in 1941 and opening its doors with a screening of an Abbott and Costello film, the popular theater entertained generations of Lamorindans. Fast forward to 1987 and the Park Theater was taken over by Allen Michaan’s Renaissance Rialto Films. But over time, it wasn’t profitable, so it closed for good after more than 60 years in business in September 2005 with “Cinema Paradiso” and “Amelie.” Stanley Middle School student Joel Braunstein made a six-minute documentary film on the history of the theater, including information from the city’s point of view. To check it out on YouTube, go to www.YouTube.com and type in “The Park Theater Movie” in the search box.

  • Las Vegas, NV – State, Huntridge Theater Owner Settling Suit Over Historic Venue

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    From Nevada Public Radio: The state of Nevada and the owner of the Huntridge Theater are settling a lawsuit that complicated efforts to restore the east Charleston Boulevard landmark.

    In 2014, the state of Nevada sued Huntridge owner Eli Mizrachi, contending he failed to protect the building, a condition that came with his purchase of the state-designated historic site.

    The proposed settlement halves $750,000 sought by the state and gives Mizrachi the opportunity to avoid any payment if he makes improvements to the building and makes it a usable building where events are held several times a year.

    The deal also extends for 12 years restrictions on what he can do with the property.

    The state Commission on Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation votes on the matter this week.

    Heidi Swank is a Nevada assemblywoman and the CEO of the Nevada Preservation Foundation. She told KNPR’s State of Nevada that she thinks it’s a good compromise.

    “I think that’s really the big thing that the community and the state wants to see is to not have this important building to our community just sitting there empty in disrepair not functioning,” she said, “This I think it provides both a carrot and a stick to get us where we want to be with that building.”

    The Huntridge opened in 1944 as a glittering example of streamline modern architecture at the eastern outskirts of a town of 15,000.

  • Jackson, WY – Old theater now an empty shell

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    From the Jackson Hole News and Guide: The oldest theater building in the town of Jackson is now an empty shell as an ambitious renovation project brings the old structure up to current fire codes.

    But what will happen next in the old Teton Theatre is a mystery to all but those involved in the deal. Robert Gill of the Gill Family Trust, which owns the building, won’t spill the beans.

    “I don’t have any information for you as far as what it’s going to look like,” Gill said Tuesday.

    Unveiling a new use and design is up to the future tenant, he said. His job is to get the building ready for use.

    Passers-by on North Cache have noted a flurry of demolition work inside the building, phase one of the building’s restoration.

    Town records hold permits and reports with notes about some details, but no plans are on file for reconstruction of the basement, first and improved second floor.

    Closed for years

    Right now there isn’t much floor per se — just dirt, rocks and a pile of debris visible when exterior plywood is removed. Construction crews go about their work inside as pedestrians mill past outside.

    Gill said the walls were torn down to the bare rock, which was shot-coated with a layer of concrete to make a solid building even stronger. When the roof trusses were exposed they were also found to be solid. Gill said the town had suspected the trusses were some form of “cowboy” engineering — but they were in fact legitimately manufactured trusses.

    The theater opened in 1941. It was built by Bruce Porter, who also constructed and ran Jackson Drug just up the street. Porter had started showing movies in the space above his store in 1922.

    The building was an early landmark, with its stone exterior and location just off Town Square. The premiere of the classic and locally shot movie “Spencer’s Mountain” was shown there, with an after-party at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

    In the 1980s the theater got a renovation that included a snack bar and new seats. In the old days people would buy snacks at the corner drug store before going to the movie house.

    Its marquee is still attached, but serves now as a political endorsement sign.

    The theater closed Sept. 30, 2012, after a Sunday showing of the movie “End of Watch.”

    Speculation about its future has been rife — and fruitless.

    A liquor license was transferred to the 120 N. Cache St. address in 2012, but no restaurant opened there.

    A tobacco shop located for decades in the building lost its lease in June and relocated just blocks away to the north.

    After four years work could finally begin on the building’s second life.

    “A lot of the problem is it’s difficult to do things in town because of the cost,” Gill said.

    While permits can be pricey, “That’s nothing compared to the housing fee.”

    And while he said there are fond memories of the place as a single-screen movie theater, times have changed.

    “It had really run its course a long time ago,” he said.

    Traffic delays

    Gill seemed disappointed in his dealings with officials.

    “I was hoping the town would be a little more helpful,” Gill said.

    The project will have a few impacts, but mostly during off hours.

    Roadway early birds may find some detours between Labor Day and Memorial Day as large structural members such as columns and beams are delivered.

    A report by Josh Kilpatrick of Nelson Engineering, on file with the town, estimates it may take as many as 14 separate days to get that work done, “and will necessitate temporary three-hour closures of North Cache Street.”

    The report states that a three-day advance notice will be given for 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. closures of the road between Deloney and Gill.

    “New construction will commence after Labor Day and following the demolition phase,” the report read.

    A window installation on the street side of the building will necessitate a covered walkway for pedestrian protection as rocks are removed from the facade.

    Another traffic and parking disruption will take place as infrastructure for a new water and fire suppression system are installed beneath the pavement between Sept. 20 and Oct. 15.

    Some parking spaces on the west side of the street will become a travel lane during part of that work.

  • August 24, 2016

    Waynesboro, VA – History: The Cavalier was Waynesboro’s ‘Other’ Theater

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    From the News Leader: Between 1920 and 1929 Waynesboro movie-goers enjoyed three movie theaters all within a mile of each other. But the youngest, the Cavalier, was considered the bad boy of the three.

    The city’s first was the Star Theater, located at 544 West Main Street, in a building that still stands. A former Presbyterian Church, the structure was bought and converted into a theater in 1922 by Col. Max Patterson and Carl C. Loth, film impresarios who were eager to capitalize on the booming 1920s movie business. The small, spartan Star played silent films with piano accompaniment probably provided by Wenonah School music teacher Frank Vanderherschen. In 1925 the Loths started constructing the Wayne Theatre just down the hill, and the Star closed when the Wayne opened in 1926.

    While not an extravagant “movie palace” like those built in larger cities, such as the Byrd and Lowes Theatres in Richmond, the Wayne was still considered “lavish,” and a distinct improvement over the Star. A pipe organ – also played by Vanderherschen – provided accompaniment to the silent films until talkies arrived in the late 1920s. In 1929 the Wayne installed an “RCA high fidelity” sound system, and the first commercial sound film, “The Jazz Singer,” was a sensation, with lines reportedly stretching up the hill.

    Buoyed by their enormous success with the Wayne, Patterson and the Loths incorporated, then built another theater at the other end of town at 307 West Main Street to better serve eastside and Basic City. They held a contest to name the new cinema, which was won by Eva Yount for her suggestion the “Cavalier Theatre.”

    While the Wayne was designed and operated as a luxurious first-run movie house, the Cavalier was more of a rowdy adult recreational destination, with films and live shows that reflected its earthy atmosphere and blue-collar demographic. With a capacity of about 900, the interior walls were painted cinderblock, a luncheonette served up fast food until after midnight to cater to shift workers at nearby Stehli and DuPont, and a bowling alley (with cigar smoking encouraged) operated in the basement. Since there were no automatic setters, local boys earned pocket money in that hot, smoky basement setting pins after every roll.

    Historian Curtis Bowman in 1967 described the distinct aroma upon entering the Cavalier (also nicknamed “the flea bag” and “the scratch”) – “a mixture of disinfectant, perspiration, cigar smoke and cooking food … the proximity of rest rooms to the entryway did not help.”

    After the 1941 flood ruined the Cavalier’s basement bowling alley, the Loth Corporation – consisting of President Max Patterson; F. R. Loth, vice president and manager of the Wayne; J. Ellison Loth, secretary and manager of the Cavalier; and Col. C. C. Loth, treasurer and manager of the bowling lanes and the luncheonette – built the Cavalier Lanes on Federal Street. On February 23, 1952, that building was completely destroyed in a five-alarm blaze. The Cavalier Theatre frequently featured live shows by traveling movie stars and performers, especially cowboys. Actor Billy Barty, film’s first “little person,” appeared in 1938. The following year, Roy Roger’s singing group the Sons of the Pioneers appeared in person, and happily posed for pictures with star-struck locals. The Three Stooges stopped by in the early 1940s. Johnny Mack Brown brought his horse on stage to do tricks.

    Throughout the 1950s the Cavalier maintained its “PG-13” reputation as an eastside hangout, showing more provocative grade-B horror, western and juvenile delinquency films. The former basement bowling alley was sometimes used at this time as a shooting range.

    As a result, many Waynesboro parents refused to allow their children to attend the more risqué movies shown there – so of course, many teens dropped off at the more reputable Wayne would sneak three blocks to the Cavalier.

    In 1964 the Loth Corporation sold the theaters to the B&K Virginia Corporation, then in April, 1966, Davidson Theaters in Washington D.C. acquired the Wayne Theatre on a long-term lease but passed on the Cavalier, which was forced to close. The building was purchased and torn down by Advance Auto.

    Despite being gone for 50 years, the lowly Cavalier still had the distinction of being the last movie theater built within the city limits of Waynesboro until Zeus Theaters opened in 2010.