The latest movie theater news and updates

  • July 25, 2016

    New York, NY – Sneak Peak of Hudson Theatre Restoration



    Situated just off Times Square in New York on 44th Street, between Millennium Broadway Hotel and The Premier Hotel,The Hudson Theatre opened on October 19, 1903 with a production of Cousin Kate starring Ethel Barrymore. Built by Henry B. Harris, a famous Broadway producer of that period, The Hudson Theatre is one of New York City’s oldest Broadway showplaces. The 100-foot long lobby was the largest ever seen on Broadway at that time. Among the stars that have graced the Hudson’s stage are Douglas Fairbanks, William Holden, Helen Hayes, Edward G. Robinson and Dorothy Gish. Barbara Stanwyck and Judith Anderson both made their debuts on its stage. On September 27, 1956 the first nationwide broadcast of “The Tonight Show” starring Steve Allen originated from The Hudson Theatre. It was granted landmark status for both its internal and external features in 1987.

    The venue will receive significant front-of-house improvements to better serve its patrons including all new state-of-the-art seating, Ambassador Lounge premium lounge service, and increased and improved ladies' washrooms. In addition, significant backstage and technical upgrades, including new and expanded dressing rooms and new fly systems will transform The Hudson into a leading legitimate Broadway theater and destination for producers, directors, actors and creative teams. The anticipated re-launch of the theater is slated for the 2016/2017 Broadway Season.

    Ambassador Theatre Group, through its subsidiary, Hudson Theatre LLC, has entered a long-term lease for The Hudson Theatre, its second theater on Broadway, from a subsidiary of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc (M&C). M&C and ATG will be, in a multi-million dollar project, restoring the landmark venue to its former glory as a Broadway playhouse.

    M&C’s Chairman Kwek Leng Beng, said,

    “The Hudson Theatre is one of the great historic landmarks in New York City and we have always been proud to have it in the Millennium & Copthorne family. We have proudly owned and maintained the theater as a cherished conference venue within our New York hotel estate since we acquired the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York in 1994. It was time for The Hudson to again become a destination where New Yorkers and visitors from around the world will experience great theater and entertainment. We are so pleased to have Ambassador Theatre Group partner with us on this new journey for The Hudson Theatre.”

  • July 23, 2016

    Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie gets approval on $20M expansion to historic theater


    From the Asbury Park Press: Curtains have gone up on a $20 million expansion project for Count Basie Theatre, after the borough’s Zoning Board approved the project on Thursday night.

    The board’s approval means engineering work can begin and building permits can be pulled, though it could still be months before any construction commences on the site.

    Adam Philipson, president and CEO of the nonprofit that runs the theater, did not return calls on Thursday and it’s unclear when work on the expansion would begin.

    What does the plan include?

    Plans call for the expansion of both ends of the current theater, doubling its footprint and occupying an entire block on Monmouth Street, between Maple Avenue and Pearl Street.

    The east expansion is two stories and totals 11,489 square feet, including a larger entryway into the theater, more concessions, a lounge and an elevator. The work on the building’s west side will be a three-story, 30,000-square-foot expansion. The west wing will have a second performance venue, improved dressing rooms, rehearsal space, classrooms for community education, two elevators, a roof deck and restrooms.

    Improving Basie’s backstage facilities was among the top priorities of the project. At a zoning meeting last month, Philipson told the story of singer Harry Connick Jr. calling the dressing rooms unacceptable in front of a Count Basie crowd.

    Count Basie officials asked the zoning board to approve an exception on building height restrictions. The building will rise to just over 66 feet, slightly taller than allowed. Board members had few problems with that issue and focused mainly on parking, which is at a severe shortage in Red Bank.

  • Chicago, IL – Congress Theater Hotel Rooms? They Are Part Of The Latest Overhaul Plans


    From DNAInfo: The massive overhaul of the historic Congress Theater took a new twist Thursday, with news that plans could include an additional 10-story residential building across the street from the theater.

    The new plans reveal the developer, New Congress LLC, also is considering building hotel rooms on the site.

    The theater, 2136 North Milwaukee Ave., has been closed since 2013.

    There have been multiple proposals presented by the developer over the last few years, but this is the first time the 10-story residential building has been considered.

    That new building would be built on a vacant lot across Rockwell Street from the theater and could include 120 residences, according to the plans.

  • Medina, OH – Medina’s first movie theater gets its final close-up


    From There won’t be a happy Hollywood ending for the home of Medina’s first movie theater.

    The former Medina Theater at 139 W. Liberty St. has a date with the wrecking ball, as the city prepares to demolish the Masonic Temple that houses the twin screen auditoriums, concession stand and iconic long ramp up from where the marquee once spelled out the classic films of the 1930s through the 1990s.

    Generations of Medina families swarmed the city’s theater during its glory days in the middle of the last century, sharing popcorn and penny candy as they gathered with friends and neighbors on date night Fridays and matinee Saturdays.

    The long-neglected theater – which closed in 2000, then twice attempted a comeback as a concert club before a community theater group gave up the ghost in 2014 – has clearly seen better days.

    Like its surrounding building, it is dotted with asbestos and mold. The walls are pockmarked with holes and the edges of the floors are crumbling.

    Movie posters no longer grace the long hallway leading up to the concession stand, which looks diminished without the popcorn and soda machines and the brightly colored candy wrappers.

    The original sturdy, velveteen-covered theater seats still stand in stately rows, pointed toward the ripped screen in the main auditorium. The second auditorium has been stripped of furnishings, leaving an empty stage in the shadows at the front of the room.

  • Richmond, VA – Cinephiles plan first take along East Broad Street


    From Richmond Biz Sense: Inspired partly by the closure of a West End movie theater, two Richmonders plan to open a film center in a recently redeveloped downtown property.

    James Parrish and Terry Rea plan to open in August the Bijou Film Center at 304 E. Broad St. The pair have a short-term lease for the 1,400-square-foot space on the ground floor of the three-story building.

    “We wanted to bring movies back to Broad Street,” Parrish said. “We see it as a starter home. We’re going to start with folding chairs.”

    The Bijou Film Center will show movies and sell beer, wine, coffee, popcorn and other food. The August opening won’t be for a fully realized Bijou, but the single-screen film center will have limited screenings until the building is fully built out later this year.

  • July 20, 2016

    Stevens Point, WI – Fox Theater revival project at a standstill


    From the Stevens Point Journal: Three years after a group started raising money and pledged to reopen the historic Fox Theater in downtown Stevens Point, its members have collected around $200,000 in donations but made no progress toward restoring the crumbling building.

    Organizers say they have funds in the bank — enough to pay this year’s property taxes and insurance — after having spent $30,000 to study the building'sarchitecture, plus money on a temporary roof repair and on general building upkeep, taxes, insurance and utility bills. Organizers have collected donations including money, celebrity appearances and time from students.

  • Dillsburg, PA – Fire destroys Dillsburg drive-in theater’s old movie screen


    From the York Dispatch: Fire destroyed the remnants of the old movie screen at Haar’s Drive-In Theatre just outside Dillsburg early Tuesday morning.

    Fire crews were dispatched to the blaze at 185 Logan Road in Carroll Township about 3:45 a.m., according to a York County 911 Center supervisor.

    Demolition crews had already reduced the old screen to a pile of wood and debris, which is what caught fire, according to Fire Chief Scott McClintock of Dillsburg’s Citizens Hose Co.

    A track hoe that was left parked next to the pile sustained a good deal of fire damage, he said.

    “It’s not destroyed, but it’s going to need a lot of work and repair,” McClintock said.

    No one was hurt, he said, and crews had the blaze under control in about 15 minutes.

    Demolition crew called: It took about 90 minutes to fully extinguish flames.

    “We had to wait on scene to get the demolition people there to operate the heavy equipment needed to move around the pile,” McClintock said.

  • Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY – Coney Island’s Shore Theater, a Weathered Landmark, Is Reimagined


    From Curbed NY: In January this year, the landmarked Shore Theater on Coney Island was saved from total ruin when developer Pye Properties purchased the site for $20 million, and decided to restore it to its glory days. However the developer is still looking for tenants to lease the space, and with that they’ve unveiled a new rendering for the project, Brooklyn Daily reports, based on images first posted on the Coney Island Blog.

    The developer wants to restore the building’s theater and likely use it as an entertainment venue, in addition to converting a part of it into a hotel. Plans so far are in the preliminary stages, but the developer has brought on Commercial Acquisitions to scope out other tenants for the building. Some of the big tenants targeted so far include TJ Maxx and Starbucks, but it’s not exactly clear yet how they’ll fit in with the other plans. They’ve also reached out to the local community board to lease a space in the building.

  • July 19, 2016

    Lexington, KY – Kentucky Theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ will be saved, new group promises


    From the Lexington Herald Leader: The remains of Kentucky’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ can’t be played at the moment — but there is hope that within the next decade they may again ring through its original home at Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre.

    The sumptuous golden and ivory console is wrapped in plastic and sitting in a Jessamine County warehouse. The rest of the massive organ, which totals about 20,000 pounds, sits in pieces nearby. While parts of the organ have been restored during the last 20 years, there’s still a lot of work to do.

    “It is a treasure,” said Bill Webber, whose group, the Bluegrass Chapter of The American Theatre Organ Society, is now overseeing fund raising for the restoration and resettlement of the organ. “We must save it. … There are only a few original organs like this intact.”

    The organ that’s in the Kentucky Theatre is played by Webber on Wednesday nights during the Summer Classic Movie series.

    The original Kentucky Theatre organ — the theater opened in 1922 — has seen a lot, and not just during the years between 1922 and 1934 when it provided the music and sound effects for silent movies at the theater.

    Theater organs, with their distinctive horseshoe-shaped consoles and ornate decoration, once appeared all over the country. An estimated 7,000 of them were installed in movie houses from 1925 to 1933. Few of the instruments remain today, but both Cincinnati and Knoxville have restored Mighty Wurlitzers.

    Organ performers in the early days of film provided a soundtrack during silent movies. The instrument could provide simulations for everything from horse hoof beats to train whistles. The siren and antique car horn — which makes the sound “oo-ga” — are Webber’s favorites, he said.

    The Lexington organ was sold in 1977 to an organ broker, but later bought by Oscar Wilson, who put it in his home on Winchester Road and invited people to concerts.

    Wilson later donated it to the University of Kentucky. Over the years such theater organs became increasingly rare, and getting the parts and expertise to restore them more difficult.

    H. Steven Brown first came upon the organ in a “Lost Lexington” exhibit in The Central Library in 1993, and wanted to lead the charge to restore the massive instrument. For more than 20 years Brown’s group, Kentucky’s Mighty Wurlitzer, raised money toward that goal.

    But ultimately, the organ was never approved for re-installation into the Kentucky Theatre, and a flood of occasionally contentious paperwork flew between Brown and leaders representing UK, the urban county government and the Kentucky Theatre. Last month, Brown dissolved his organization.

    Brown said the problem his group faced wasn’t with raising money to restore the organ, but with raising money to complete the complex re-installation of the organ into its Kentucky Theatre home. Donors to the project over the years still need to be honored, he said.

    Brown’s organization did some good work in fundraising and providing restoration for the organ, Webber said. Donors to Brown’s group “need to know that their donations were not for nothing. They have gone toward the renovations that have happened so far,” he said.

    So far, Webber’s organization has two anonymous major donors for its organ restoration, he said. A Louisville restoration company is attached to the project and will soon start work, along with a group of volunteers.

    Restoration of the organ will cost about $200,000, Webber said.

    Like Brown’s group, Webber’s organization also wants to return the organ to the Kentucky but without altering the theater’s present structure.

    “We are going to get this done,” Webber said. “I promise you, this is going to happen.”

    Read more here (with photo gallery and video):

  • July 18, 2016

    Ridgewood, Queens, NY: Historic former Ridgewood Theatre advertises new apartment rentals for insane prices


    From New apartments at blockbuster prices will soon be the feature presentation at the former Ridgewood Theatre.

    The former moviehouse located at 55-27 Myrtle Ave. is being converted from a 2,500-seat, five-screen multiplex theater to a five-story, mixed-use building featuring a commercial space on the lower floor and 50 residential units on the upper floors.